Dream Big Montana camp draws crowd of about 450

Dream Big Montana camp draws crowd of about 450
Lorenzo Alexander, who retired after playing 15 years in the National Football League, talks with campers while signing autographs during the Dream Big Montana skills camp Thursday at Naranche Stadium. (Bill Foley photos)

Anderson and company inspire crowd of young athletes

Bill Foley

Just before his sophomore season on the University of Montana football team, Butte’s Colt Anderson found himself in head coach Bobby Hauck’s doghouse.

Anderson was sent to run laps while told he was being demoted from starting safety to a third-string safety by the head coach.

As he ran his laps, Anderson saw safeties coach Tim Hauck, the brother of the head coach and himself a decorated former NFL player. Tim Hauck was demanding that Anderson remain the starter.

This time, Tim Hauck won the argument with the head coach. Anderson went on to be a Grizzly starter. The rest, as they say, is history.

“It was one of the few times Bobby and I had a disagreement,” Tim Hauck said Thursday. “I knew who was boss, but I knew who Colt Anderson was.”

Anderson, a Butte High graduate, went from walk on to All-American under the Hauck brothers at Montana. He went on to play nine seasons in the NFL, and he is currently a special teams assistant with the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I will stick up for my players, and Colt proved me right,” Tim Hauk said.

All these years later, Tim Hauck still believes in Colt Anderson. That is why the Super Bowl winning assistant coach (Philadelphia Super Bowl LII) was one of the many former and current professional and college athletes participating in Anderson’s Dream Big Montana Event.

The event kicked off with the kids’ skill camp at Naranche Stadium.

The camp drew about 450 boys and girls to the turf of Naranche, where they got instruction, some life lessons and, probably most important of all, autographs from the likes of Tim Hauck, Ryan Jensen, Chase Reynolds, Jen DeLong, Brock Coyle, Troy Andersen, Robert Lester, Tommy Mellott and more.

(Story continues below photos)

Current and a few recent Butte High players and coaches also helped conduct the star-studded camp.

“We had 408 registered, and there were another 40 or show who showed up,” Anderson said. “It was a great turnout.”

Most of the campers are too young to really remember Anderson playing in the NFL. The former and current pros who showed up to help with the weekend, though, sure remember him.

Those athletes, like with his former coach, were drawn to town by Anderson, who put on the event for the third time with his wife, Keeley. The Dream Big Montana Event was canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is awesome,” Tim Hauck said between autographs. “I love helping Colt. Him and I have a great connection. No. 2, it’s great getting back to Butte.”

Hauck, who is a Grizzly legend for his hard hits, said Anderson was a lot like himself.

“A lot of my game was my mindset,” Hauck said. “I had so many people tell me what I couldn’t do. I had to prove them wrong.”

Young athletes rotated from station to station for skills workouts and instruction for about two hours. Then they got to bombard the big-time athletes with questions.

The most popular question came from a young boy who wanted to know when it is time to forget other sports and focus solely on football.

The resounding answer was “never.”

“Do it all,” Hauck told the crowd. “Compete in all of it. The more chances you get to compete, take advantage of them.”

Chase Reynolds, whose rode to the NFL went through Drummond and the University of Montana, echoed Hauck.

“I played with a lot of guys in the league,” Reynolds said. “I don’t think one of them played just football.”

“Get involved is as much as you can,” added Mellott, a Butte High grad who now plays for Montana State.

One boy asked the athletes who their favorite football team is.

“My favorite team is the Cincinnati Bengals,” Anderson said, clapping for his own team.

When that drew a smattering of boos, Anderson changed his tone.

“No, no, no,” he said. “The Montana Grizzlies.”

Anderson got a big cheer with that response. He got loud ovations when he mentioned the Butte High Bulldogs and the Montana State Bobcats.

“The Butte Missile” mentioned the Bobcats again when someone asked the toughest teams the football players played against.

After Lorenzo Alexander, who retired recently after 15 years in the NFL, mentioned playing against Tom Brady and the Patriots, Anderson said, “Montana State was always tough. But we always had to beat them.”

The camp was the opening of the weekend. It was quickly followed by a Keith Sayers show on Park Street. That will be followed by a concert featuring Butte natives Levi Blom and Tim Montana.

Anderson brought those two in because he wants to show kids from his hometown what can happen if they dream big.

Another Butte rat Anderson sought out is Robert Lester, a skier and climber who seemed to be having as much or more fun than any of the kids.

“This is great,” Lester said. “It’s great to see all the kids have so much fun.”

Reynolds, who like Jensen has been to all three Dream Big Events, marveled at how many kids showed up.

“It’s Butte, though” Reynolds said, answering his own question. “This is what we are supposed to do. We’re supposed to give back.”

Hauck pointed out that he saw young campers from all over Montana.

“This is a great deal,” said Hauck, who mentioned his grandmother was from Butte. “I love this town.”

The Event continues Friday with a family fun day at the Butte Civic Center from noon to 3 p.m. An auction will follow Friday night at the Copper King Hotel & Convention Center.



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