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By Mick Holien

You may have heard on the news that Tyler Hilinski, the presumptive starting quarterback for Washington State, was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound earlier this week.

The death of a rising star has not only prompted shock and dismay from teammates and prominent former Cougar signal callers, but reaction from the NCAA’s chief medical officer and a shocking on-air dissertation from a Spokane television sports anchor.

My friend Keith Osso of KXLY Television told viewers during a segment the night after the death of Hilinski that while he didn’t know the athlete personally other than watching him play and covering an occasional news conference he shared what is perceived as the depression that drove Hilinski to leave behind a suicide note prior to shooting himself.

“The loudest person with the biggest smile (often) is hurting the most,” said Osso, while admitting on the set to his news team that he has suffered from depression for more than a decade.

The sideline reporter for Eastern Washington University football, Osso is a Spokane native who started at KXLY in 2003 and also co-anchored a popular afternoon radio show until last year.

Jovial and popular Osso could usually be seen sporting a wide smile accompanying his upbeat personality.

“You can’t always see the pain in other people,” he said, “but you can always tell them how much they mean to you.”

His on-air explanation drew strong support on several pages of social media.

“Never would have guessed you had the battle and none would think I do as well,” wrote Cory.

“I appreciate you’re your honesty and candor,” added Elizabeth.

Seemingly with some of the best days of his life in front him in taking over the quarterback slot, outwardly Hilinski was in a good place in his life.

As a redshirt sophomore in relief of Luke Falk last season Hilinski passed for 1,176 yards while completing better than 70 percent of his pass attempts

“The missing piece here is why,” Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins told ESPN and the Hilinski family in California said they were in “complete shock and disarray” over his death.

Unfortunately depression and suicide in college students is not unusual.

National Data on Campus Suicide and Depression, obtained by the sports magazine, said one of every dozen college students make a suicide plan and 7.5 per 100,000 carry it out.

Former Cougar quarterback Ryan Leaf of Great Falls, who certainly has battled his share of addiction and depression after being the No 2 pick in the 1998 NFL draft.

Clean now for a few years, he told the New York Post at this stage of his life he is focused on helping others with similar struggles.

“Every human life is precious,” wishing he had been able to look into Hilinsky’s eyes and say “Tyler I’m just like you and I have been there and there is hope, then hugged him and never let him go.”

In the Daily Caller, another former Cougar QB, Drew Bledsoe, had an even more personal message since Hilinski mentored his son.

“As men we have to learn to TALK about how we are feeling,” said Bledsoe.

“Reaching out for help when we need it is not a sign of weakness,” he said “Asking for help is the ultimate sign of STRENGTH.”

Hilinski’s death not only has increased the public’s perception of the deep problem of depression but brought publicity of available resources.

A 2016 story in the Bismark Tribune said the prevalence of suicidal behavior has made Montana one of the worst suicide states for generations.

But help is readily available and just a phone call away

The Montana Warm Line is a non-crisis line for anyone who just wants to talk to a peer about their problems.

The number is 877-688-3377 and while not a crisis line can be quickly linked in such a situation.

The nationwide 24/7 Lifetime Chat line also is available by calling 1-800-273-8255.

Drive to Kona

By Mick Holien

Undeterred by a volcanic blast sprinkling inches of a mysterious white-grey ash onto lands in her wake, the traveling exploits of M and M (Mike and Mick) continue with that eventual bowling obligation in Kentucky awaiting.

Realizing we needed to join our teammates in Louisville by Thursday, we also saw no reason to hurry.

Erringly driving down a deserted Interstate east from the top of Sunset Hill to our respective valley exits, Mike headed south through farmland now being utilized by truckers while I did my all too usual home drive-thru.

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Here We Go

It certainly was an inopportune time to need to drive from Tacoma to Spokane in order to catch the next morning flight to Chicago in order to drive to Louisville.

But such was my fate – 18 years ago – May 18, 1980.

Seems like only yesterday. It is one of those days indelibly etched in my mind.

I was trying to qualify for the National Mixed Tournament by finishing high in the Washington State Finals in Tacoma, Wash. Then Mike McPherson of Colfax and I were headed to the National Men’s Tournament in Kentucky to catch up with the remainder of our teams who paired each summer and traveled to a myriad of high-stakes events round the Country.

After glancing up at the television I noticed in passing night-like conditions and ignited street lights in Yakima, Wash., enough information to stop me short and ponder our next move.

I was born on the Columbia River in Skamania County in a tiny hospital in White Salmon, a cross river from Hood River, Ore. And heard a share of stories of Harry Truman, an iconic character who lived in the shadow of a dormant Mt St. Helens.

And early word that he refused to leave and pictures of the plume’s altitude convinced us we were headed east post haste. Ha little did we know I-90 shut down early paralyzing the state and it wasn’t until the following morning, Monday, that we opted to sneak over the North Cascades Highway to drop into Spokane at the top of Sunset hill.

Of course it also was closed but only barricaded and we surmised that authorities would be busy enough on the crucial truck route than to worry about a couple of bowling junkies.  

True enough as we crept through town after town much to the chagrin of the locals amidst confusion because authorities advised either to wet the ash or not; to scoop it with s little dust as possible; not to breathe it because it was acrid; oh yes or just leave it alone and stay away.

My blue 1979 Luv pickup not only performed admirably and ran about another 100,000 miles after the adventure which screeched to a stop as the WSP stopped me inquiring just what I thought I was doing.

Boldly producing press ID I told him the bags were full of film when actually it was all bowling balls.

Busted we waited out faith but the Trooper directed us down the Interstate to our respective exit with a stern warning about lying to the Man – yeh that Man.

Finished for the day but not deterred we conspired next edition with the anticipation sweeping you into the weekend, just sayin’



A Volcano



By Mick Holiwn


 It certainly was an inopportune time to need to in order to catch the next morning flight to Chicago in order to drive to Louisville.

But such was my fate – 18 years ago – May 18, 1980.

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Golf n Golf


By Mick Holien
How I wish I was a golfer.
Imagine how much business is generated, friendships formed and often lifetime relationships occur over a round of golf and maybe a post-round libation.

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A Fallen Hero

By Mick Holien

About the only downside of moving off the beaten track is because even of a short driving distance to Missoula you just can’t attend everything you’d like to.

That certainly was the case Monday night on a day when former Lake County Sheriff’s Capt Jay Gillhouse was sworn in as the newest member of the Missoula City Police, a diseased Missoula cop was recognized at a Missoula location where a lot of lives were affected.

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Polson's Rensvold Off the Field Success

By Mick Holien

One of several challenges, and maybe the most important, for a first-year student athlete entering college is academics.

In most cases being away from home for the first time has its temptations – I don’t think I ever made an 8 a.m. class remember, to the point where I just stopped scheduling them but of course sometimes you just do not have another choice.

But in the case of Polson’s Eric Rensvold, who along with Tanner Wilson are University of Montana signees, a recurring injury may have set him back a bit on the field but it sure had no affect on the studies.

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The New Copper

By Mick Holien

I don’t know about you but that gypsy in my soul has been yelping about all the music locally and within a day drive.

And here I am with a new-to-me vehicle that while I feel pretty small in it is a sheer pleasure to drive.

But with some caveats.

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A taste of politics

By Mick Holien

It’s  The sun was out during the day until the freak electrical storm Sunday evening and looking across that ominous lake - Yep I’m gonna do it - politics 

But first all I wanted was just a twist of the music of my youth. Yes that youth.

And I got even more than that attending a performance of Merle Travis Peterson and the “Cold Hard Cash” at Polson High Friday.

Sound vocals by Peterson, tremendous stand-up base with John Sperman and the frantic drum beat of Fel Torres were plenty to satisfy my inclines.

Then the inaugural campfire of the year even if I was the last arrival with no sun at my back.

But alcohol and strident opinions just don’t mix and here came angry words amongst friends.

I did not participate in the banter or the resulting physical altercation knowing, I was like sitting in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner and the aunt or uncle who never shows up brought up the families long buried and forgotten “secret.”

You know the one.

But yes the campfire

“You love your guns more than your kids,” was the first thing I heard and a less than two-minute shout-down resulted in both leaving in opposite directions leaving somewhat quiet and obvious careful conversation from everyone else.

But it isn’t the argument that prompted this diatribe. It was my first up-front and personal exposure to see how polarized this country has become.

That probably sounds strange but still being what some would consider a working journalist I attempt to persevere above or out of the fray and while the majority of the country doesn’t believe it – neutral. But don’t construe that to mean I am out of touch. Far from that.

IMO We have been so influenced by the 24-hour news cycle and narrow broadcast line drawn between news and opinion. Or maybe it is only “inside baseball – you know a beltway thing

We believe our final opinion on things is valid not scratching the surface of an accompanying methodology.

While it certainly does not help that the leader of one side is approaching things in what charitably can be described as unorthodox and across the aisle they seem keel-less.

Polar opposites that fuel polarity and breed distrust.

There are fringes of communication and cooperation but we’re now in that wait and see pre-election time

And we are so entrenched in our viewpoints that often civility can’t occur but it has to.

Although we tend to hang with people of similar values and beliefs, My advice for what it is worth, Reach for broader horizons and obtain your information from more than one “talking head.”

Former House Speaker tip O’Neill famously once said “all politics is local.”

Boy howdy.

Or just sayin’



By Mick Holien

For sixty years previous recipients of a loosely defined “Honor Court” have assembled in Missoula to recognize area volunteers and sportsmen.

Now monikered as the KPAX Sports Awards Banquet, the now 60th Annual dinner was the idea of Ray Rocene,

And because of the recent discovery in Deer Lodge, we now know so much for about the cast and characters.

I am so grateful with the people who must have recognized the importance of this material.

I learned of their location at my friend Lars Olson’s memorial in Deer Lodge and delayed little to make a quick and timely connection.

As it worked out a few of us stopped in Deer Lodge on the way home from the Montana Football Hall of Fame in Billings and we could have sat at this lunch counter till the sun came up.

After leafing through the material and now methodically absorbing the rich prose of the history’s author, none other than John T. Campbell, already there is so much I don’t know.

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It's the People

By Mick Holien

When I moved to Polson after retiring from the Missoulian some 13 years ago I thought since it was just an hour or so away it wouldn’t be anything more than a lengthy jaunt to a suburb.

But while there are some things that make that ring true there’s also times when it seems to be quite a distance

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New Rules

Does FCS football, the level the Grizzlies play at have enough representation in recommending rule changes?

About the time a player and coach get up to speed on the rules and accompanying techniques required from changes in the football rules the governing body, under the auspices of the rules committee determine not by any means to reinvent the wheel but certainly to alter it and consequently the manner in which it rolls.

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Tim Ryan Rouillier



By Mick Holien

It is unfortunate that the world won’t have an opportunity to enjoy Tim Ryan Roulllier’s entire symphonic memoir that enthralled a record crowd in Missoula one summer night last year.

But leaving more than half of Play Me Montana on the cutting room floor is certainly not a negative because fine tuning the remainder of the masterpiece produces a 30-minute presentation to be featured by the Public Broadcasting System on their nationwide fundraising tour.

Gleaned from three days of David King magic filming and joined artfully by the Gordon Johnson directed Missoula symphony, which contributes incredible depth to the presentation, the countrywide June debut marks the culmination of a Rouillier’s dream musical career that began in his hometown of St. Ignatius and eventually lured him to Nashville.

The inaugural performance documenting Tim’s musical life starting with joining his grandpa Vic on the stage sold out the Dennison Theater setting a gross sales venue record.

Having known Tim since the early eighties when he fronted “Sugarfoot,” the house band at Missoula’s Duelin’ Daltons then in the midst of country music popularity when I was a KGVO DJ I can certainly attest to the maturation, depth and range of his voice.

And the work of King who counts stints with Disney Studios and Universal Cartoon Studios in California among a lengthy award-winning resume takes this presentation, which has been deemed Emmy worthy no doubt accelerates Rouillier’s song writing and performing career.

Hall of Fame writers Charlie Black, Sharon Vaughn and Alex Harvey conspired in the song writing with Rouillier whose credits include penning vocals for such artists as George Strait, Phil Vassar, Randy Travis, Kenny Rodgers, and Deana Carter besides producing the Reboot CD and joining the stage for a couple of years with Mission Mountain Wood Band.

He also had music contracts with CBS, RCA and Warner Brothers.

Outstanding duet and single vocals are excellently contributed by Lari White, who died shortly after returning to Nashville. Now entitled ‘”My Grandpa’s Fiddle” you can contact your local PBS affiliate for program scheduling beginning in June.

Things You Just Have To Know

By Mick Holien

Have you noticed?

Even though I am no longer in the business, having shed my Missoulian business stripes year ago, there are things happening in our berg

Some store fronts are bristling with activity. While at least for one family grass is greener on the opposite side of Flathead Lake as following personal situations they’re opting to build elsewhere.

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One Great Day

By Mick Holien

You know that late night you pointed your rig up Evaro Hill bound for somewhere in Lake County and coming out of the valley floor starting the 1,000 foot incline to the boundary of the Flathead Reservation you quickly learned that swirling snow covering your windshield was just a precursor to a squirrelly track free roadway that made you consider returning to the motel at the Wye.

You’ve been on those trips even if infrequently.

I can assure you – now take my word for it – Wednesday was not one of those days and makes such trip over Evaro tolerable.

And while we sure didn’t plan it that way a trio of self described cohorts in crime, anticipating sunny skies and 70-degree temps, left Polson up the west shore on one of our fact finding missions.

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By Mick Holien

On a beautiful “go figure” kind of week’s start an observation: why do we tend to treat people differently when they initially cross our path?

And additionally don’t most have a tendency to become more open armed with strangers after we get to know them – I guess they wouldn’t then be strangers but …

Are we shy or maybe just indifferent?

Or maybe just unsure of the eventuality of strangers expanding our societal field.

Well at least that was the hypothesis I started thinking about after noticing during several recent encounters that customer service personnel that initially treated me even with indifference suddenly warmed up when they discovered maybe I possessed some community standing.

For years I have made the observation to friends that I knew a wide range of people only because of radio play-by-play and not because I endeared myself to a wide range of people.

But recently perusing an article in Psychology Today convinces that the opposite may well be true: We actually are nicer to strangers than the people we love the most.

And so what say you?

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Grizzly Quarterbacks

By Mick Holien

Most collegiate athletic programs, no matter the perceived talent level or background, operate on a thesis of next man - or woman to be gender correct - up and a player knows they have better be ready for that eventuality.

And in the case of quarterbacks, since every coach I have worked with prefers to have one on the roster from each class, recruited as a signal caller nothing guarantee that’s where you will end up playing.

And over the Griz years, starting with Butte’s Josh Paffhausen who moved to wideout and contributed in a big way, there have been plenty of success stories.

So listen up Griz faithful all is not lost with the sudden transfer of record setting sophomore Gresch Jensen leaving junior Dalton Sneed and redshirt Polson freshman Tanner Wilson in the fold.

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After the Weekend

By Mick Holien

On this Earth Day at this writing and taking a chance on being labeled you know one of those guys – all I need to see is the mass of garbage that forms together on the ocean surface.

So we really think we can sustain demonstrating such indifference?

I think not IMO.

Well I didn’t get the garage floor completely swept but unfortunately that is because junk is stacked on top of a certain percentage of concrete. But if you are like me, I’ll bet you took some at least advantage of later daylight and a bit of 50-area warmth.

The annual Trade Fair is coming up this weekend at the Polson High School.

I am going to take advantage of the offer of Carol Tibbles to let me share part of her booth, as a Boys and Girls Club board member to bring you up to date on our fundraising for locations in Polson and Ronan.

But it also a chance for you to grab a form from the booth with contact information for your comments about In My Opinion on KERR AM and FM.

But more importantly I’d like to know what you’d like to know that I have an opinion about.

Now keep it civil and remember I stay away from religion and politics just because it can be so polarizing.

But remember after about 18 months I’d really like to re-energize. I’ll have a big sign marking my presence and remember there is no question that is not a good question.

There is also plenty of material from the historical sports writings I recently located in Deer Lodge.

I don’t hesitate to describe it as a “treasure trove” and feel very fortunate that a friend chose to share it with me.

And lastly the Grizzly Scholarship Association Memorial Golf Tournament is on the horizon at Mission Mountain Golf Club in Ronan May 18.

A few prizes are in store and what a better chance to rub shoulders with coaches of your favorite sport to be represented.

Mark your calendar – It’s a Friday at 11 – and listen to a Lighter Side next week with all the particulars/

There is No Golf Ball

By Mick Holien

Really now. Let’s face it.

If somebody approached me and said they wanted to tell me about a new sport about to go Olympic in 2020 I would probably show a bit more than passing interest.

But if they preceded to add that there used to be a practice course on my Haack Road property add the best player in the world lives in Missoula, I would probably thinking about rejuvenated the land and charge for its use.

Hey I am at least entrepeneurial.

Well all the above is true … well all but for the charge part.

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Well Deserved

By Mick Holien

Given the nearly unprecedented basketball season Head Coach Travis DeCuire just completed it should come as no surprise that the now fourth-year mentor was acclaimed by the honor Court Tuesday as this year’s winner of the Ed Chinske award.

First awarded in 1971 it is designed for the coach, trainer, manager or other notoriety in athletics who put together that exceptional season.

It is given as the groups second most important to honor Chinske was one of the most popular and capable ever who never understood the word “Quit.”

Over the years his sons generally have attended the mid-winter affair as a part of the 60th Annual Ray Rocene affair.

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A Pickup Man?

By Mick Holien

It is hard for me to believe that I would misidentify a man who has a month named after him but it is Dean August not Alexander, the former Cat play-by-play man, who schedules our music.

It was bound to occur but that sure does not mean it was easy.

Really it is not that big of a thing right? Everybody has to eventually admit it is time.

And right to the point of signing on the dotted line I was still unsure and had I waited through the weekend I might have either further delayed the decision or completely opted out.

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