Griz fans and coaches were welcomed inside the Mansfield Convention Center in Great Falls for the annual Coaches' Barbecue. Bob Stitt, Shannon Schweyen and Travis Decuire and other athletic department members had a chance to meet their Central Montana supporters.
"We want to get around the state and pay our fans back and that's what makes Griz football what it is the passion of our fans and it's a lot of fun for me as a old guy and running out that tunnel and i'm going to get out and meet as many people as I can," said Griz head football coach Bob Stitt.
"We have such a loyal fan base and it's always rewarding to get and get out and touch base and have connection to Montana," said Griz head women's basketball coach Shannon Schweyen.
And connect with fans like Terry Thompson.
"These guys come and sit down with us and have dinner with us and meet them personally and share some stories and we brought our grandson and he's been going with us to games with us since he was three and he got to get a picture with the Coach tonight. It puts you a little bit closer and it makes you feel like you are apart of the big picture," said Terry Thomspon.
"I think it's an opportunity for us to go and say thank you and maybe share and reflect on some things that we were able to do because of them. Not only the financial piece and but even emotional support is huge, and I think that for each program to come up in front of them and tell them how important they are is always beneficial in the long run."
The Griz Coaches' Barbecue has been beneficial in the past. In the last two years, the Great Falls chapter of the Montana Grizzly Scholarship Association has written checks for 50,000.
Money raised from the live and silent auction and other avenues helps support student athletes at the University of Montana.
But beyond, the items up for sale that will help support the Griz, Terry Thompson is there to fellowship with the rest of the Great Falls Griz community.
"There's a great caravan that heads down the highway every weekend when there's Griz football, and we get to be here tonight as a family," said Thompson.