On a chilly Friday afternoon on Homecoming weekend, the ribbon was officially cut on the Washington-Grizzly Champions Center — a state-of-the-art training facility for all 15 of Montana’s varsity programs, new football locker room, and more — ushering in a new championship standard for Grizzly Athletics. What started with a grand vision and a $7 million lead gift from Kyle and Kevin Washington on behalf of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation in 2014 has become a reality.
With the Washingtons’ lead gift, Montana director of athletics Kent Haslam and his staff set out to capture the imagination of Grizzly supporters and donors around the country and finally put dreams to paper, and shovels to dirt. “Today we re-celebrate that amazing donation and the donations of many, many others that made the Washington-Grizzly Champions Center a reality,” Haslam said to a crowd of roughly 500 gathered for the ribbon cutting. “To say this is a program-changing day is an absolute understatement,” Haslam added. “What started as a concept, a vision of what could happen, a vision some thought just couldn’t be done, couldn’t fit in this space, couldn’t be done on budget, on time… Well, guess what folks, we did it.”
The dream even inspired former Heisman Trophy winner and Washington family friend Herschel Walker, who was on hand in Missoula to help dedicate the building. The 51,000 square foot building includes not only a new football locker room but facilities for all of Montana’s over 300 student-athletes to help them perform at their very best. “I’m going to tell you the Washington-Grizzly Champions Center is one of the best centers I’ve seen in a lot of the many places I’ve been,” Walker added. “You’re going to have champions here, and I’m happy to be a part of it.