BOZEMAN — Cole Moore has spent the last two seasons helping wreck opposing offenses as a Montana State linebacker. In May, the senior traveled overseas to help wreck a house.
“It was a great experience,” the senior from Whitehouse Station, NJ, said of a 10-day trip to Portugal with Habitat for Humanity to begin constructing a new home for “a mom and three kids who recently got out of a domestically violent situation. We were the first team to go there and help them out. There will be 10 different groups going throughout the summer and fall, so we were the first team and we took down the old house.”
Ensuing teams will clean the site and build the new house, and Moore his involvement with Habitat for Humanity’s international unit came completely on a lark. “I just went on their web site and they offer countless volunteer opportunities,” he said. “The trip I went on was 10 days, and there are (projects) throughout the US, South America, east Asia. You have to go through an application and interview process.”
The process of entry into the Habitat for Humanity project was nothing compared to the gauntlet Moore went through in arriving at MSU. The son of an Amoco executive who traveled extensively during his childhood, particularly internationally, Moore grew up and played high school football in Whitehouse Station, NJ, but after finishing he spent a year at Lake Forest Prep School in suburban Chicago.
Bobcat fans used to Moore’s hard-nosed, technique-sound work as a Sam linebacker would have had a hard time spotting him at Hunterdon Central High School or Lake Forest Prep, though, because they’d likely be looking on the wrong side of the football. Moore was a quarterback before arriving at Montana State.
“My coach at prep school had sent my film out to a bunch of places, primarily as a quarterback, but I had some defensive film on there,” Moore said. “Coach (Dale) Ploessl was responsible for recruiting that part of the country, Illinois, and he took me as a linebacker. I knew I was coming here to play linebacker.”
The decision to attend prep school put Moore on the path that eventually led him to Bozeman by exposing him to defense. “I didn’t play linebacker in high school, but I played in prep school a little bit,” he said. “That’s why I had some (defensive) film. I had some preferred walk-on (offers) to play quarterback (in college), but I came here because I thought I had the best chance to play, and I came as a linebacker.”
After a couple of development seasons and some productive time on special teams, Moore was thrust into action as a sophomore when starter Aleksei Grosulak was injured. He started all 12 games as a junior, finishing fourth on the team with 67 tackles with two interceptions and six pass breakups. He caused and recovered a fumble, and was equally staunch against the run and pass.
Montana State’s eighth-year head coach Rob Ash takes pride in developing players like Moore, whose walk-on-to-captain tale Ash calls “a fabulous story. It’s a testimony to his hard work and dedication. Cole is one of the most serious, focused players on this football team and what he’s done during his career is direct his emotions into performance. That’s a sign of his maturity.”
Another sign of the respect Moore has earned within the program came at the end of spring drills, when he was voted a team captain by his peers. His brand of leadership, Moore says, revolves more around actions than words, but the trust he puts in his teammates is a crucial part of the equation.
“I just go about my business,” he says, “but at the same time every guy in that locker room is capable, every guy is confident. In our program it’s a next-guy-up mentality. I’m confident in myself and confident in every guy in this locker room that they can get the job done and help us win games on Saturdays.”
A person probably needs to be looking for Moore to notice him in a crowd. “Cole is a very intelligent individual,” says Moore’s fellow senior linebacker and co-captain Na’a Moeakiola. “He’s quiet, but once you get to know him he’s got a great personality, he has great morals, he has respect for others, and he’s humble and hard-working. I’m glad he’s a friend of mine. He’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever known.”
Moore’s kindness manifested itself in northern Portugal in May. The passion for travel and helping people of different cultures that spurred the trip began years ago.
“I was born in the UK,” he says of the roots for his interest in international travel. “My dad worked for Amoco at the time. I lived in the former Soviet Union for a year, in Georgia, for my dad’s work, also. I went to kindergarten there. I’ve been to France, my sister went to school in Paris for three years. I went to Croatia last summer, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany. It’s something I’m really interested in, passionate about.”
While Moore has traveled plenty, the visit to Portugal was his first service trip, and he hopes not his last. “I’ve never done it for a purpose such as this,” he said. “I wanted to travel, but at the same time I wanted to be part of something like this, to make an impact in someone else’s life. You’re helping people you don’t know, they’re a different nationality, speak a different language, yet you’re going with a group of people volunteering time from your summer to help.”
Moore’s love of travel also influences his academic pursuit. “I’m studying international relations,” he said. “Right now I want to get a master’s degree in education because I want to teach this in high school and pair it with coaching so I can stay involved with athletics. I think the whole realm of international relations and how interconnected we are in the world is so important. (Young people will) be interacting with people from all over the world, and have to have an understanding of people they’ll be interacting with.”
The recent trip also had its personal benefits, Moore said. “I made life-long friendships in only eight days. It just took off because of you build that camaraderie doing the work, but at the same time you’re around each other all day and getting to know each other. We’re already talking about doing another trip together.”
Part of Moore’s ability to integrate a global existence into every-day life involves keeping current with international events. “I focus on contemporary global issues, for example politics of food and hunger, politics of war and peace, international relations theory, things like that” in his classroom work, he says, an interest which spills over into his free time. “I’m a big reader of newspapers, modern global issues. I try to keep up on things like that.”
Moore’s teammates in the Blue and Gold have taken note. “He reads the newspaper every morning at breakfast,” Moeakiola said. “Some of the guys get on him, but while a lot of people spend time looking at their phones or playing games or whatever he’s learning. Not a lot of people in our generation do that. He’s always educating himself about what’s going on around the world, people who are dying or starving in other countries. He’s a very international person and his goal is to help people, not only people (in the U.S.) but around the world.”
With a bright future ahead of him and the world literally on his plate, Moore’s immediate goal is to help lead the Bobcats back to the top of the Big Sky and into the post-season, which the team experienced during his first three seasons in the program. Moore has been impressed with the team’s early-morning weight room work.
“It just feels different because there’s a greater sense of urgency in the locker room amongst our team,” he said. “What happened last year is not going to be acceptable going forward. I think we all have the mindset that this summer is going to be huge, and it all starts (each) Monday at 6 a.m.”
— MSU Sports Information