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2001 Griz closing in on goal as team reunion nears

02 Dec 2021 | 07:51 | Football

When the 2001 Montana Grizzlies set out to achieve a goal, there’s no stopping them.

Following a loss to Georgia Southern in the 2000 national title game, the returning Griz decided from that day on their primary goal was to go back to Chattanooga and come home with a national championship trophy in 2001.

Mission accomplished.

Now twenty years later, the 2001 Grizzlies have shown the same team spirit and resiliency in coming together with an ambitious fundraising effort that is set to make a lasting impact on UM athletics and future Grizzly football players for generations to come.

The goal of the team’s fundraising effort was two-fold.

The first: endow a scholarship in memory of their fallen teammates Tim Bush, Curt Colter, and Herb Fernandez. A lasting memory of men the world lost too soon that will be awarded each year to a current member of the team.

The second: make an impact on the team’s facility improvement projects, helping the Grizzlies toward their next national title.

Again, mission accomplished.

On Saturday, more than 56 former players head coach Joe Glenn will return to Missoula for a celebration of the team’s 20th anniversary, with a reception Friday night and an on-field recognition when the Griz face Sacramento State on Saturday.

As of Wednesday, the team has come together to reach over 90 percent of their fundraising target, having raised more than $300,000 to date. A number that started to snowball once momentum for the team’s reunion took hold.

“We tend to be goal-oriented people, and all of a sudden we had a number in front of us, so we had a reason to accomplish that number. As we get closer and closer, you can feel that intensity and competitiveness kick in,” said former linebacker Dan Orizotti, one of the players spearheading the effort.

“The great thing about it is everyone is coming together for two absolutely great causes. Certainly, one is to help support the University of Montana and the athletic department that helped us all so much. But also, for Kurt, Tim, and Herb, and the lasting opportunity to remember their legacy in this in this scholarship.”

Fundraising for the two projects will continue through the 2001 reunion weekend. To make it easy for people to pitch in, the Grizzly Scholarship Association has set up a website where members of the team, friends and family, or even fans who want to help out can make their gifts.