The Grizzly Hurling Team: Introducing Montana To Something New
Have you ever heard of the sport hurling? Not curling, but hurling with an "H" If you're like me, you may have had no idea what that is,but the University of Montana has a pretty impressive hurling team of its own.
Hurling is a sport with deep roots in Ireland. "Where I'm from, it's a place called Kilkenny in Ireland, and hurling would be as important there as football is in Montana or Texas, it's basically another religion," says Griz Half-Forward Naoise Waldron
So it's Popular…Hard Hitting…And a lot of fun…but what exactly is it?
"Hurling is basically Ireland's national sport. It's the fastest game on grass, it has over 3,000 years of history and tradition in Ireland. It started off as faction fights between towns, and it would be a matter or pride between one town and another," adds Waldron.
When two Irishmen (Waldron and Brian Barry) came to Montana through the University exchange program, they developed the first ever Hurling team in Montana, and the local students embraced it quickly.
"There's a lot of history of the Irish in Montana. I think just because they are a resilient culture, and they also have a good sense of humor so they're fun to be around," says Griz half forward Kaleb Barrett.
Starting the team is one thing…but quickly they've seen success, even taking home the Buffalo Cup, and earning a prestigious invite.
"We've qualified for the National Hurling College Championships in New York next month. It's in Gaelic Park, which is a stadium in the Bronx which is the biggest hurling stadium in the United States. It's actually in it's 100th anniversary," says Griz fullback Brian Barry.
And the allure of playing in a national tournament isn't just for the Irish players.
"I think there is a lot of honor in that. There's something really cool to represent Montana in Hurling in New York and Gaelic Park in the 100 year celebration, that's rank. I don't care who you are, that's awesome," says Barrett.
If anyone wants the chance to witness a little sports history, you don't have to look too far as the Hurling team will be hosting a free tournament Saturday, the 19th of April.
"it's the first ever Hurling game in the history of Montana, so it's going to be a big one. It's in Washington Grizzly Stadium at 12 o'clock on Saturday," says Barry.
"If you're proud to be Irish, or proud to be associated with the Griz, you've got to get down there Saturday," adds Waldron.