Montana Tech Alumni Back-to-Back Weekends

I'm coming off an Oredigger high after the last two weekends.  At final count, I attended 6 college games and participated in just as many alumni events, including the highly anticipated Women's Basketball Alumni Game! It all started in August, when Coach Kerie DePell sent word that she was resurrecting the alumni game and also recognizing the 30yr Anniversary of the 1981-82 & 82-83 Conference Championship Teams.  I didn't have to think twice about attending and my excitement grew as other teammates signed up.

Since I still had the marathon to train for and hadn't played consistently in 16yrs, I practiced a couple days every week in October while continuing to mountain bike on the weekends.  I really enjoyed my early mornings at the gym and although I didn't play in any pickup games, I felt comfortable around the basket by the end of the month and was looking forward to the game.  When I was an Oredigger, we played against the alumni as part of preseason preparation, but this time it was Alumni vs Alumni.

I had a few goals besides having fun and seeing old friends. I couldn't drive that far and not give it my all.
     1. No injuries
     2. Hold my own against the other alumni, especially the younger women
     3. Contribute by making my shots and playing decent defense

We took Friday off and drove early in order to hit Terry's favorite lunch and coffee spot in Dillon.  We arrived in Butte and checked into The Copper King Mansion B&B.  We wanted to stay Uptown rather than on the Flats and figured we would get a little history on this visit.  It was a great experience which I'll save for a future blog since I took tons of photos.
The Copper King Mansion - Butte, Montana
The roads were too icy to ride so Terry joined me for a walk around Butte.  It was strange to take in all the buildings and sites after being away for so long.  There are definitely some signs that Uptown will survive and I just hope in the next 10yrs, there is more growth and improvement rather than decline.
Montana Tech Campus on the hill with Vu in foreground
Famous Butte Headframe with "M" Hill in background
As the sun set, we were off to the HPER for the basketball games.  The Women's Team played first and within the first few minutes, Maria and Julie arrived and I honestly don't remember any more of the game because we couldn't stop catching up.  Maria was a year ahead of me and Julie was a Senior when I arrived as a Freshman.  We were laughing hard enough to cry as we reminisced.  At halftime, we spotted the "80s Ladies" as they headed to the hospitality room.  We had heard of some of these awesome women and their coach, Jo Buysse, but only knew Bubs, who was also our assistant coach.  We made introductions and returned to the game but again spent most the time talking.  The Men's game started and before long, we all decided to take off and meet at the Vu for dinner and drinks.  Terry was one of the only spouses, but he joined the fun and luckily our friend Dennis stopped by to keep him company.  We had a great night and since most of the older ladies weren't playing the next morning, they enjoyed the libations.  In case you are keeping track (since we were preoccupied), both Oredigger basketball teams won their 1st games of the season!
Having way too much fun at the Vu - especially with tip-off in less than 10hrs
We walked back to our Master Suite and had a nice sleep in the same spot where Senator William Andrews Clark slept.  After an informative breakfast, we were back to the gym for the Alumni Game.  I thought I had convinced Maria and Julie to play, but was bummed when they walked in without their gear on.  Oh well, I would just have to represent the early 90s on my own.  We did a quick warm-up and then Coach Kerie split us into teams.  Coach Buysse was the oldest/wisest/most energetic player and there were just a handful of us from the 80s and 90s, then plenty from the 2000s.  Luckily, I was still one of the tallest so I figured I held some type of advantage.  Off we went and our competitive juices took over as we battled back and forth for the lead.  I hit a few post shots and then found myself open and encouraged by the sidelines and hit a 3. Now that was a first for me as an Oredigger!  Peg would have pulled me off the court and benched me if I would have shot that in a game or practice.  Too bad she wasn't there to witness my 100% 3pt average.  Tracy (run the offense dammit) stopped by to watch and it was awesome to chat with her at halftime.  We came in as Freshman together and hadn't seen each other since she graduated in 95.  At the end, our team pulled it out for a win.  I had accomplished all 3 goals for the Alumni Game and couldn't wait for the rest of the day's activities.  After the game, we checked out the new workout facility and athlete locker rooms.  Although we were jealous that we didn't have these perks when we were playing, it was good to see where our donations end up.
Alumni Game Warm-up: I'm in green shorts, Coach Kerie (pregnant) in foreground
We had just enough time to grab some lunch at the recommended and vegan-friendly Hummingbird Cafe then back to campus for the tailgate party and football game.  We followed Jo out on the field before the game as the announcer recognized the "80s Ladies" for their accomplishments.  We went up to the stands to watch the stellar Oredigger football team win another game while Coach Green did play-by-play behind us (hilarious).  The wind and cold were just as I remembered and during the 3rd quarter I walked around the campus to see what had changed.  I spent most of my time in the Engineering Building looking at recent projects and experiments.  I swung back by the football game on the way to the Alumni Luncheon.  Terry had gone back to the Hummingbird to work, so we met in the parking lot and I twisted my ankle which later became very painful.  I made it thru the game with no issues and can't make it across the parking lot - classic.
Football Tailgating with Coach Green - Montana Tech Legend is as loud as ever
We walked into the Luncheon and realized that Coach Kerie and her team had gone to a lot of trouble to make us all feel welcome.  There were old photos and newspaper clippings on the wall, information on scholarships, and best of all - old uniforms that we could purchase to help out the athletic department.  Julie, Maria, and I went nuts over the bright orange 70s jerseys.  I'm actually surprised I didn't pull a stomach muscle from all the giggling we did all weekend.  The room was full of alumni and it was wonderful to be surrounded by smart, athletic, and funny friends (old and new).  After we ate, many of the alumni left to return to their Montana homes, but Terry, Tracy, and I watched the Volleyball game and the Orediggers win in straight sets.  We hung out after the game with the "80s Ladies" and then returned for the Women's Basketball game and yet another Oredigger win!  Although it was a fast and furious 24hrs, I was sad to be leaving all these amazing ladies. I have high hopes that we will all return next year and hopefully my other teammates will realize what they missed and join us for the activities.
Vintage 70s Jerseys - Ready for 2013 Alumni Basketball (and Bowling) Game
We finished up the night with dinner at the Metals Bank and watched the Halloween Pub Crawl.  We stopped for more ice for my ankle and were thankful to crawl into bed after a busy day.  Terry had to get back for work, so after breakfast and a tour of the Mansion, we made a beeline for home.  I continued to giggle for a few days via text and FB with Maria and Julie as we posted photos and comments.  There is something to be said for friendships made during college, especially when you spend so many hours together playing basketball, traveling, eating, and studying.
Oredigger Alumni - Early 90s Teammates - Maria, Tracy, Jenny, Julie

By Tuesday, I was making final preparations for Saturday's Montana Tech Alumni event in Salt Lake City.  The Volleyball team was in town to play their last regular season game against Westminster.  As the Utah Chapter Chair, I enjoy trying to get everyone together to cheer on the athletes and support Montana in general.  After work, I updated evite information, arranged for discounted tickets, and planned a pregame meeting.  In addition to the SLC alumni, Gina and her family drove down from Jackson to spend the weekend!  We hadn't seen each other for months, so we packed in all we could before and after the Alumni events.  We had a small, but loud, group attend the game but unfortunately the Orediggers lost 3-1 in very close sets.  We all went out for post-game drinks and talked Butte and Montana Tech.  The others had recently been back for the Environmental Reunion, so we all had recent updates.  I wish I could get more alumni to attend the events, we have a great time and I'm sure the athletes appreciate the Go Diggers! cheers.  Either way, it was a fantastic way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Montana Tech Alumni - Utah Chapter - Post Volleyball Game Social

Landscape Project Update:
We were only on hold for a few days due to the storm and the crew continues to wow me with their creativity.  Another before and after picture to keep you updated.
Before : Right back slope and grass patch
In Progress : Waterfall, Curved Retaining Wall, and Steps