As Rep. Jim Patelis walks The House floor, the life lessons he learned on the gridiron continue to influence his life.
"Hard work, teamwork and the leadership," Patelis said.
Rep. Patelis moved to Butte to play football for Montana Tech in 1978. The Bethlehem, Penn. native found himself away from friends and family for the first time in his life and forced to come out of his shell. The freshman state rep relies on that experience as he navigates his first legislative session.
"Whether you're a democrat, republican or libertarian," Patelis said, "you have to work together."
While Patelis gained AP All-American status in 1980, the Treasure State grew on him. After graduation, he opted to stay in Montana and served 24 years with U.S. Probation Office, the last five as Chief U.S. Probation Officer.
"Those values I was able to carry with me my professional career," Patelis said.
The energetic Patelis felt unfilled after retirement. So at the request of the community, he ran for a House seat in District 52, narrowly edging out his opponent 52 to 48.
"I was actually living a pretty nice left in retirement," Patelis said. "Golfing, Going to Vegas with my buddies and spending time with my family."
Now, the rookie representative wants kids to know the value playing sports - specifically football - can have on your life.
"Get off those Xboxes," Patelis said, "and participate in sports. It really helps you grow as a person."