BOZEMAN — When you watch the Montana State football team, you notice a disciplined team. For head coach Jeff Choate, having discipline came from growing up in a military family.
“We all share in these liberties that somebody had to pay for with blood, sweat and tears and in some cases made the ultimate sacrifice,” Choate said.
Choate’s paternal grandparents served in World War II and met on the day of Victory in Europe. His maternal grandfather was a tanker in France. His dad and stepdad served in Vietnam, and his mother was in the Army reserve and eventually retired as a lieutenant colonel.
“At the time (Choate's mother) was one of the only female officers to attend both Army War College and command a general staff," Choate said. "The military connections run deep in my family.”
His mother’s successful military career in a time when women were given few chances to move up the ladder was an inspiration.
“She was getting those opportunities in the U.S. military, so I think that, for me, kind of that 'anything’s possible' (mentality)" Choate said. "I think about that for my daughter, I know my sister thought that way, so those are kind of the takeaways.”
Coming from a military family, it helped shape the Montana State coach into the man and coach he is today.
“I think again that personal discipline, work ethic, those are things that I definitely inherited from all of my grandparents and my parents," he said. "I also think as I mentioned a moment ago talking about my dad, respecting everybody. I think that’s really become something that’s important to our family.”
With appreciation for the military, Choate brings in veterans such as Phil Kornachuk from Lead 406 to speak to the team and lead team-building initiatives.
“They’re getting to do this because of the sacrifices of men like Phil Kornachuk and thousands and thousands of others within our own community," Choate said. "That’s really what I’m hopeful that they take away -- that they’re humbled by the sacrifice of others and they want to honor them with their actions on a daily basis.”
Choate thinks people can learn a few things from people in the military.
“One of the things about being a member of the armed services is that you put your personal issues aside and you serve for the greater good, and I think that’s such a great lesson for the young people in our country today," said Bobcats' head coach. "I have the ultimate admiration and respect for those that have served our country.”