Advantage Butte sets up for new sports year

The attending members of Advantage Butte reviewed summer activities and set up for the 2014-15 school year during the group’s August meeting held Tuesday at the Butte Plaza Inn.

The Butte Family YMCA facility is being closed this weekend for building improvements and maintenance work, the group was told. Also, the Y will soon be offering school year programs to the youth and is contemplating continuing a tutoring program begun last spring for Butte students in grades K-12.

Don Peoples Jr. represented Butte Central Catholic High School and the Maroon Activities Center at the meeting and told the group the MAC saw a busy 2013-14 school year, but will be short two tournaments this next schedule that had been on the docket the past several years.

Peoples confirmed both the District 11/12-C girls’ volleyball and combined boys’ and girls’ basketball tournament have changed venues. He said a Bozeman-backed group successfully convinced the districts to move the tournaments to the Manhattan Christian high school gym in Churchill and is apparently underwriting the endeavors.

The MAC, however, will retain the Western C Divisional tournaments in the same sports this school year — the volleyball set for Nov. 6-8 and the basketball for the last week in February.
Peoples mentioned pursuing Class B district tourneys as a possible replacement for the last Class C district events. The losses will mean lost revenue for the MAC and the community, he noted.

The caution, however, is that Butte sits just outside the two nearest Class B districts and either might be leery of or unable to award postseason events beyond the district boundaries. When bidding for such becomes again available, Whitehall will remain the closest District 5-B member while Anaconda will be the nearest in District 6-B. An idea mentioned was to maybe offer a bid on a combined district tourney and sell the parties on Butte as a centrally located venue. That the two districts advance to separate divisionals, however, may be an obstacle to such an plan.

Butte-Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Marko Lucich suggested, too, that a bid should be forwarded to the Montana High School Association to play host to the state organization’s annual meetings in the near future. He cited the major expansion on the agenda for the Fairmont Hot Springs resort and said it would be a good place for such a convention. A purpose, too, would be to allow the high school athletics reps from around the state to see what sports facilities Butte has to offer and may enhance the community’s chances for landing more events.

Gina Evans of the Butte 100 major cycling race pronounced the 2014 edition “a great success.”

“Nobody got lost and nobody got (seriously) hurt,” Evans said. “It was a great time in the woods.”

The race was held last month north and east of Butte over a rugged mountain course and was attended by a who’s who of cycling figures and media that follow the sport. Among them was former World Cup cyclist Tyler Hamilton, who encouraged the contestants with words, Coca Cola and Snickers, Evans said. She added that 105 volunteers worked the event.

A color dash running and walking event is slated for Sept. 6 at the Chamber of Commerce grounds on George Street, Lucich said. It will be a 5-kilometer course and entries are being accepted at the Chamber of Commerce offices or by logging on to The race is set for an 8:30 p.m. start and colors splashed will be glow-in-the-dark.

A previous such event drew 250 participants, Lucich said. Envision Butte, a community enhancement group, will receive 50 percent of the proceeds from the Sept. 6 dash, Lucich said, adding that the money is being earmarked for the Berkeley Pit Visitors Center project.

Butte High Activities Director Chuck Merrifield said the school is busy with fall sports, having already competed in a golf tournament. The football turnout was of more than 100 participants, the AD said. The Bulldog football season will begin on Aug. 29 at Billings Senior.

Merrifield added that numbers increased to 40 for boys’ soccer this year in another good sports turnout. The football, volleyball, soccer and cross country teams will all participate in scrimmage exhibitions for the public on Friday at Naranche Stadium and in the Ross J. Richarson Memorial Gym.

Bill Melvin, Butte Civic Center manager, passed out schedules for the arena in an update through March. He added that negotiations for more events are taking place and could very well be added. The schedules will be mailed to the public with water bills and can also be seen at

Melviin confirmed the Northern Rodeo Association Finals agreed to another three-year run at the Civic Center, but that more interest from the community needs to be shown in order to keep the event beyond 2016.

“We’re hoping for a big push,” Melvin said.

This year’s NRA Finals rodeo is set for Oct. 9-11 and Melvin suggested local businesses recognize it on their reader boards, if they have such displays, and that staff members and workers in the community and businesses wear western attire the week of the rodeo.

Advantage Butte Treasurer Brad Spear, of Anderson, Zurmuehlen and Company, reported that all bills the group owed for sponsoring last year’s schedule of events have been paid. He said more than $12,000 remains in the Advantage Butte checking account, but that $9,500 of the amount has been committed for events already approved for help this school year. Spear reminded that group membership fees began being due this week for the 2014-15 projects.

Desiree Shogren, Advantage Butte president and Butte Comfort Inn rep, added that invoices for renewing memberships in the group are being mailed soon and asked that members also help to recruit more members so that resources in the attempts to bring more events to town can be expanded.

Advantage Butte works to lure athletic events to the community as a means of economic development. Efforts include providing financial aid to the parties responsible for bidding on the competitions.

Ron Davis of Butte Broadcasting reminded the group that Montana Tech is opening both its football and volleyball seasons this week. The Orediggers begin their football season in Dillon on Saturday night with a Frontier Conference game against Montana Western. The Montana Tech volleyball team is vying in a non-conference tournament in southern California through Friday.

Wrestling and soccer clubs stayed busy through the summer, representatives informed.
Rody Holman of the Butte Wrestling Club said 30 members competed in the USA Wrestling Western Zone tournament in Pocatello, Idaho, and that the club also played host to two camps during the summer. One camp was put on by the University of Great Falls wrestling club while the other was a kind of impromptu activity. Medical student C.P. Schlatter, in town for the summer with Dr. Peter Sorini, wrestled as an All-American for NCAA power Minnesota and agreed to head the camp, Holman said.

Butte Soccer Club rep Kelly Howery said the organization’s summer program drew about 60 kids. A national-level soccer coach from Bozeman traveled to Butte, Howery said, to provide instruction and monitor the scrimmages.

“Improvement was noted,” Howery said, attesting to the success of the program.

Advantage Butte will next meet on Sept. 16 at the Butte Plaza Inn.


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