Farewell Letter From Lady Griz Coach Selvig
After 38 years, retiring University of Montana Lady basketball coach Robin Selvig sat down and penned his own personal thoughts on what it has meant to him to be such an integral part of Griz Nation. With thanks for permission to share this with you from the University of Montana Sports Information Department and without further ado:
How can I ever begin to thank all the people with whom I’ve shared a wonderful 38 years at the University of Montana?
I have always been one to avoid reminiscing because I always wanted to look forward. But now it’s time to look back.
I feel fortunate to have grown up in the small eastern Montana farming community of Outlook, where my seven siblings and I were blessed with incredibly loving and supportive parents.
Outlook is a place where you learned the value of a good day’s work at a young age. Where there was a real sense of community. A place where working together and being there for your neighbors when needed was simply a way of life. In a sense it was the first team I was on.
I had the good fortune of having great coaches in my life. Lou Rogers inspired me in my high school days and Jud Heathcote in college. There was no finer coach than Jud, a Hall of Fame coach. He taught me the game of basketball, and I dread to think what kind of coach I would have been without him. It didn’t hurt that Jim Brandenburg was his assistant!
A big thank you to athletic director Harley Lewis, who hired me, and Mike Montgomery, the men’s basketball coach and also a Hall of Fame coach, who was essentially my boss at the time. They were pretty good people to be around. Combine that with great men’s basketball coaches at the University of Montana over the decades, and I couldn’t help but learn a thing or two about basketball.
It’s been exciting and rewarding to be a part of the growth of women’s athletics. All young women needed was a chance, an opportunity. I just happened to get in on the ground floor.
I have been fortunate to coach so many bright, talented and motivated young women. From my three years at Plentywood High School to my 38 years at the University of Montana, the players made me proud to be a part of their team.
Their desire to take advantage of the opportunities afforded them always inspired me. Will they ever get scholarships? Will anyone actually want to watch them play? Will they ever be seen as serious athletes? It all took time, but thanks to their talents and drive, it all happened.
The second game of my college coaching career was a 40-point loss, and I wondered what I had gotten myself into. Then things began to change.
A big catalyst for the Lady Griz program was the first NCAA game we hosted against Oregon State in 1984. I will always remember Harley helping pull out the bleachers across the gym because an unexpected 4,000+ fans showed up for the game.
I look at that night as the beginning of the tremendous support and following the Lady Griz have enjoyed ever since.
Back when Dahlberg Arena could hold that many, more than 9,200 fans showed up for a big win against Montana State in February 1988 when both teams were still undefeated. What a thrill! Then there was a heartbreaking loss in overtime to Stanford in front of a sold-out gym to end that season.
We had another sold-out gym when we lost a thriller to Louisiana Tech in 2004. Those were just a few of the very special nights in Lady Griz history. There have been many more.
I can still sense the emotion and pride every player felt as they ran onto the floor. It’s a feeling every Lady Griz has experienced and has shared over the past four decades. I know I speak for all of them when I say thank you to our fans.
Thank you to the many staff, administrators and radio voices of the Lady Griz over the years.
A special thank you to all my former assistants, Annette Rocheleau, Shannon Schweyen, Trish Duce and Sonya Stokken, and especially my players. I’ve gained something from every Lady Griz I ever coached. Thank you for sharing your lives with me.
Thank you Janey, Jeff, Dan and now Sofia for all your love and support.
And finally a big thank you to the state of Montana for giving me the opportunity to represent you as the coach of the University of Montana. I’m proud to have had players from every corner of this great state. The Lady Griz always represented you with class and pride.