BOZEMAN — The Cat-Griz basketball rivalry will be taking place on Saturday. For the Montana State women’s team, there is only one player from the Treasure State on its roster.
Backup freshman forward Kola Bad Bear, who went to Billings Senior High School, is the only Montana native on the team. She will be playing a lot of familiar faces this weekend when Montana State hosts Montana.
“I’m just looking forward to it because I’m able to play against girls who I’ve played against before and like friends who I’ve known for a while,” said Bad Bear.
Growing up, Bad Bear didn’t care for watching college basketball, she preferred softball. She never really watched Cat-Griz games. However, now that she is on the Bobcats, the rivalry means much more.
“It kind of means everything, especially like these next couple of years," Bad Bear said. "I just want to be able to make the state know that it’s Montana State’s home and our place. Not U of M.”
So far, she’s undefeated facing the Griz. Earlier this year, MSU went to Missoula and beat Montana 66-61 in overtime.
Part of that might be due to Bad Bear’s pregame rituals.
“Running down the hallway before the game I have to hit every sign,” Bad Bear said. “From the football to the volleyball to the basketball locker room to the laundry room, I have to hit that. I have to say a prayer.”
That prayer is said with teammate Darian White, and Bad Bear says White has to sit on her left side or else they have to do the prayer all over again.
Unable to play her senior high school season with the Broncs due to tearing the ACL in her right knee while playing volleyball, the injury renewed her love for basketball.
“This injury happening to me was probably the best thing that could have happened to me,” said Bad Bear. “I took the sport for granted and just like being out here having the opportunity to play the game, it really opened up my eyes.”
The Cat-Griz rivalry is big, but not bigger than her heritage. Being Native American, Bad Bear plays for that community.
“Just being able to set the example and show them and be able to talk to them, how fun it is and how great it is to be here. Anyone can do it," said Bad Bear.
Bad Bear and the Bobcats take on Montana on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Bozeman.