BELGRADE – Dawson Fowler was completely at ease Thursday morning, less than 24 hours after making statewide headlines. The Belgrade High School senior was running around the track helping Belgrade’s special needs students practice for their upcoming Unified Relay on Saturday. A big grin swept across Fowler’s face as he gave high-5s and words of encouragement to his fellow students as they darted toward the finish line.
Just one day before, it was announced that the guard reversed his commitment from Montana Western to join the University of Providence men’s basketball team.
“I have a lot of friends over at Western and my sister, but I had to do what is best for me,” said Fowler.
Back in December, Fowler’s college recruitment seemed to be over. He signed on with Montana Western, one of the top programs in the Frontier Conference, if not the entire NAIA. But things changed when then-Bulldogs head coach Steve Keller made a huge move in the Frontier Conference, accepting the head men’s basketball coaching job at the University of Providence.
“I heard some rumors going around that he might be switching,” said Fowler. “But when he first called me I was a little in shock. And that kind of stressed me out a little bit.”
What was once the main draw to Dillon for Fowler was now off to coach another program. Even though he was hesitant now that Keller abandoned Western, Fowler remained committed to the Bulldogs. That is until Keller’s named popped up on his phone.
“He called me and he said, ‘I want you to come with me,’ so I went up and visited and I really liked the college and it was a really tough decision for me,” Fowler said.
The University of Providence never was really on Fowler’s radar during his recruiting process.
“The (former) coach had called me once saying he was going to keep in contact with me, but he never did,” Fowler said.
The senior was blown away by the campus and soon discovered that the University of Providence would actually be a better fit to pursue his major of physical therapy. With the academics side settled, Fowler officially signed to become an Argo last week. And he is excited to follow Keller to Great Falls.
“He really takes care of his players and watches out for them and makes sure they are doing well in the academic parts of things, and he really gets the best out of all his athletes, as well,” said Fowler.
The Belgrade native is the first Bulldog to follow Keller to the Argonauts, but the dominoes may now begin to fall in Dillon.
“He’s really big on recruiting his Montana guys and I think probably a couple of them will transfer over,” Fowler said. “I mean, they will have to sit out that first year, but I think because of what he’s done for them and his coaching style, I think he will get a couple of the other guys.”