List of athletes from Montana

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Map of states of the United States in beige with Montana in red
Location of Montana

There are no major league sports franchises in Montana due to the state's relatively small and dispersed population, but a number of minor league teams play in the state. Baseball is the minor-league sport with the longest heritage in the state, and Montana is currently home to four Minor League baseball teams, all members of the Pioneer Baseball League. Many athletes move out of Montana to pursue their professional career in other states.

Football and basketball are the two most popular sports at the high school level. Montana is one of the few states where the smallest high schools participate in six-man football leagues. Numerous other sports are played at the club and amateur level, including softball, rugby, and soccer.

Man in a rodeo clown outfit at a rodeo
Flint Rasmussen, native Montanan and rodeo clown, in 2007

A number of Montanans have become notable for their involvement in a wide range of sport. Dave McNally is a baseball player who was a starting pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles for 13 years.[1] Phil Jackson is a basketball player and head coach who has been voted one of the Top 10 Coaches in National Basketball Association History.[2][3] Flint Rasmussen is a rodeo clown who won the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association "Clown of the Year" award for eight consecutive years.[4][5] Football players and coaches from Montana include Dave Dickenson, Pat Donovan, Jerry Kramer, and Jan Stenerud. Dickenson played quarterback in both the Canadian Football League (CFL) and National Football League (NFL) before becoming a head coach in the CFL for the Calgary Stampeders and BC Lions.[6] Pat Donovan was ranked the top football player and number five overall athlete from Montana in the 20th century.[7] Donovan played left tackle for the Dallas Cowboys, was a four-time Pro Bowler, and played in three Super Bowls, winning one.[8] Jerry Kramer played offensive guard for the Green Bay Packers, was a three-time Pro Bowler, and a five-time All-Pro. He is ranked the number one player not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame by many Hall of Fame voters.[9] Jan Stenerud is a Norwegian who went to college in Montana on a ski jumping scholarship. He was a placekicker in the American Football League (AFL) and NFL for 19 years, mostly for the Kansas City Chiefs. He was the first soccer-style kicker in the NFL and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991.[10]

In 1904 a group of young Native American women from Montana, after playing undefeated during their last season, went to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition held in St. Louis and defeated all challenging teams and were declared to be world champions. For this they received a large silver trophy with the inscription "World's Fair – St. Louis, 1904 – Basket Ball – Won by Fort Shaw Team".[11]

Baseball[edit]

Man in sunglasses and baseball uniform leaning against a fence
John Gibbons as a manager in 2007
Baseball pitcher about to throw a pitch from the pitcher's mound
Taylor Tankersley about to throw a pitch in 2008
Baseball players from Montana
Name Lifetime Montana connection Comments Ref(s)
Ballard, JeffJeff Ballard 1963–present Born and raised in Billings Major League Baseball pitcher (1987–1994) [12]
Bouchee, EdEd Bouchee 1933–present Born and raised in Livingston Major League Baseball first baseman (1955–1962) [13]
Brow, ScottScott Brow 1969–present Born in Butte Major League Baseball relief pitcher (1993–1998) [14]
Couch, JohnnyJohnny Couch 1891–1975 Born in Vaughn Major League Baseball pitcher (1917–1925) [15]
Doyle, JeffJeff Doyle 1956–present Born in Havre Major League Baseball second baseman (1983) [16]
Duff, LarryLarry Duff 1896–1969 Born in Radersburg Major League Baseball pitcher (1922) [17]
Gibbons, JohnJohn Gibbons 1962–present Born in Great Falls Major League Baseball catcher (1984, 1986); manager (2004–2008) [18][19]
Himsl, VedieVedie Himsl 1917–2004 Born in Plevna Minor league baseball pitcher (1938–1942, 1946, 1950–1951); Major League Baseball coach (1960–1964) and scout (1965–1985) [20][21][22]
Johnson, RobRob Johnson 1982–present Born in Anaconda Major League Baseball catcher (2007–present) [23][24]
Leister, JohnJohn Leister 1961–present Attended high school in Great Falls Major League Baseball pitcher (1987, 1990) [25][26][27]
Lowenstein, JohnJohn Lowenstein 1947–present Born in Wolf Point Major League Baseball outfielder, designated hitter, and utilityman (1970–1985) [28][29]
McIntosh, JoeJoe McIntosh 1951–present Born in Billings Major League Baseball starting pitcher (1974–1975) [30]
McNally, DaveDave McNally 1942–2002 Born and lived in Billings Major League Baseball starting pitcher (1962–1975) [1][31]
Meier, DaveDave Meier 1959–present Born in Helena Major League Baseball left fielder (1984–1988) [32]
Neibauer, GaryGary Neibauer 1944–present Born in Billings Major League Baseball relief pitcher (1969–1973) [33]
Otten, JimJim Otten 1951–present Born in Lewistown Major League Baseball pitcher (1974–1981) [34]
Plews, HerbHerb Plews 1928–present Born in Helena Major League Baseball infielder (1956–1959) [35]
Rohr, LesLes Rohr 1946–present Moved to Montana when an infant, attended high school in and lives in Billings Major League Baseball pitcher (1967–1969) [36][37]
Schmidt, CurtCurt Schmidt 1970–present Born in Miles City Major League Baseball relief pitcher (1995) [38]
Tankersley, TaylorTaylor Tankersley 1983–present Born in Missoula Major League Baseball relief pitcher (2006–present) [39]
Tobin, MasonMason Tobin 1987–present Born in Glendive Major League Baseball relief pitcher (2011–present) [40]
Tyack, JimJim Tyack 1911–1995 Born in Florence Major League Baseball outfielder (1943) [41]
Williams, Rees Gephardt "Steamboat"Rees Gephardt "Steamboat" Williams 1892–1979 Born in Cascade Major League Baseball pitcher (1914–1916) [42]

Basketball[edit]

Man in gray hair, glasses, and suit on the edge of a basketball court and beside a player in uniform
11-time NBA champion coach Phil Jackson by Michael Jordan in 1997
Basketball players from Montana
Name Lifetime Montana connection Comments Ref(s)
Bauer-Bilodeau, CassCass Bauer-Bilodeau 1972–present Born and raised in Hysham; attended college in Bozeman Women's National Basketball Association small forward (1999–2002) [43]
Creighton, JimJim Creighton 1950–present Born in Billings National Basketball Association small forward (1976) [44]
Curry, DeniseDenise Curry 1959–present Born in Fort Benton Olympic gold medalist (1984); professional basketball player in France with Ligue Féminine de Basketball, winning two national championships (1986, 1987) [45]
Holland, BradBrad Holland 1956–present Born in Billings National Basketball Association shooting guard (1980–1982) [46]
Jackson, PhilPhil Jackson 1945–present Born and lived for several years in Deer Lodge National Basketball Association (NBA) power forward (1968–1980) and head coach (1990–2011); voted one of the Top 10 coaches in NBA history [2][3][47]
Kalafat, EdEd Kalafat 1932–present Attended high school in Anaconda National Basketball Association center (1955–1957) [48][49]
Krystkowiak, LarryLarry Krystkowiak 1964–present Born in Missoula; raised in Shelby; finished high school in Missoula National Basketball Association power forward (1986–1996) and head coach (2007–2008) [50][51]
Lewis , MikeMike Lewis 1946–present Born in Missoula American Basketball Association center (1969–1974) [52]
Morrison, AdamAdam Morrison 1984–present Born in Glendive National Basketball Association small forward (2006–2010) [53]
Selvig, RobinRobin Selvig 1953–present Born in Outlook Coach of University of Montana women's team (1978–present); ranked 8th in winning percentage among coaches of college women's basketball teams [54]
Tower, KeithKeith Tower 1970–present Born in Libby National Basketball Association center (1994–1997) [55]

Boxing[edit]

Boxers from Montana
Name Lifetime Montana connection Comments Ref(s)
Camel, MarvinMarvin Camel 1951–present Born in Ronan; lived in Missoula World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation cruiserweight champion (1980–1981) [56]
Hipp, JoeJoe Hipp 1962–present Born in Browning First Native American heavyweight champion (1999) [57]
Foster, ToddTodd Foster 1967–present Born in Great Falls Golden Gloves light welterweight national champion (1987); Olympics competitor (1988); professional boxer [58]

Gridiron football[edit]

Man in football uniform with hands on hips on football field sideline
Dan Carpenter on the sidelines in 2009
Man in football uniform kneeling on the sidelines with helmet off
Lex Hilliard with the Miami Dolphins in 2009
Man in light gray winter style sweater standing in front of Norwegian flag
Jan Stenerud in 2008 in front of Norwegian flag
Gridiron football players from Montana
Name Lifetime Montana connection Comments Ref(s)
Anderson, ColtColt Anderson 1985–present Born and raised in Butte; attended college in Missoula National Football League free safety (2009–present) [59]
Biermann, KroyKroy Biermann 1985–present Born in Hardin; attended college in Missoula National Football League defensive end (2008–present) [60]
Carpenter, DanDan Carpenter 1985–present Attended high school in Helena; attended college in Missoula National Football League placekicker (2008–present) [61]
Collins, ShaneShane Collins 1969–present Born in Roundup; attended high school in Bozeman National Collegiate Athletic Association shot put national champion (1990); National Football League defensive end (1992–1994) [62][63][64]
Curry, ScottScott Curry 1975–present Born in Conrad; attended high school in Valier; attended college in Missoula National Football League offensive tackle (1999–2000) [65]
Darrow, BarryBarry Darrow 1950–present Attended high school in Great Falls; attended college in Missoula National Football League offensive tackle (1974–1978) [66]
Dickenson, DaveDave Dickenson 1973–present Born, raised, and attended high school in Great Falls; attended college in Missoula Canadian Football League (CFL) and National Football League quarterback (1997–2008); CFL head coach (2008–present) [6][7][25][67]
Donahue, MitchMitch Donahue 1968–present Attended high school in Billings National Football League defensive end/linebacker (1991–1994) [68]
Donovan, PatPat Donovan 1953–present Attended high school in Helena National Football League left tackle (1975–1983); four-time Pro Bowler; played in three Super Bowls, winning one [8][69]
Dorsch, TravisTravis Dorsch 1979–present Attended high school in Bozeman National Football League placekicker and punter (2002–2004) [70][71]
Edwards, DwanDwan Edwards 1981–present Born in Billings; attended high school in Columbus National Football League defensive tackle (2004–present) [72]
FitzSimmons, CaseyCasey FitzSimmons 1980–present Born in Wolf Point; raised in Chester; attended college in Helena National Football League tight end (2003–2009) [73][74]
Fletcher, DaneDane Fletcher 1986–present Born in and attended both high school and college in Bozeman National Football League linebacker (2010–present) [75]
Friesz, JohnJohn Friesz 1967–present Born in Missoula National Football League quarterback (1990–2000); member of College Football Hall of Fame [76][77]
Hauck, TimTim Hauck 1966–present Born in Butte; raised in Big Timber; resides in Missoula National Football League defensive back (1990–2002) [78]
Heppner, KrisKris Heppner 1977–present Born in Great Falls; attended college in Missoula National Football League placekicker (2000) [79]
Hilliard, LexLex Hilliard 1984–present Born and attended high school in Kalispell; attended college in Missoula National Football League running back (2008–present) [80]
Kelly, "Wild" Bill"Wild" Bill Kelly 1905–1931 Raised in and attended college in Missoula National Football League running back (2008–present); member of College Football Hall of Fame [81][82]
Kragthorpe, SteveSteve Kragthorpe 1965–present Born in Missoula Head coach at University of Tulsa (2003–2006) and University of Louisville (2007–2009) [83]
Kramer, JerryJerry Kramer 1936–present Born in Jordan National Football League offensive guard (1958–1968); three-time Pro Bowler; five-time All-Pro; ranked number one player not in the Hall of Fame by the NFL Network [9][84]
Lazetich, MilanMilan Lazetich 1921–1969 Born in Anaconda; attended college in Missoula National Football League offensive guard (1945–1950) [85]
Leaf, RyanRyan Leaf 1976–present Born and raised in Great Falls National Football League quarterback (1998–2002) [25][86]
Mariani, MarcMarc Mariani 1987–present Born and raised in Havre; attended college in Missoula National Football League wide receiver (2010–present) [87]
McAuliffe, JackJack McAuliffe 1901–1941 Born and raised in Butte; attended college in Missoula National Football League running back (1926) [88]
McCullum, SamSam McCullum 1952–present Raised in Kalispell National Football League wide receiver (1974–1983) [89]
McElmurry, BlaineBlaine McElmurry 1973–present Born in Helena; raised in Troy; attended college in Missoula National Football League defensive back (1997–1999) [90]
McFarland, DylanDylan McFarland 1980–present Born in Kalispell; attended college in Missoula National Football League offensive tackle (2004–2006) [91]
McLeod, MikeMike McLeod 1958–present Born, raised, and attended college in Bozeman National Football League safety (1984–1985) [92]
Neil, DallasDallas Neil 1976–present Born in Great Falls; attended college in Missoula National Football League punter and tight end (2000–2004) [93]
O'Billovich, BobBob O'Billovich 1940–present Attended high school in Butte; attended college in Missoula Canadian Football League (CFL) defensive back and quarterback (1963–1967); CFL head coach and front-office official (1982–1989, 1990–1995, 2008–present) [94][95][96]
Peterson, RussRuss Peterson 1905–1971 Attended high school in Miles City; attended college in Missoula National Football League offensive tackle (1932) [97]
Petrino, BobbyBobby Petrino 1961–present Born in Lewistown; raised and Helena National Football League head coach (2007); collegiate head coach at the University of Louisville (2003–2006) and the University of Arkansas (2008–present) [98][99][100]
Popovich, Milt "Butte Bullet"Milt "Butte Bullet" Popovich 1915–2005 Born in Butte National Football League fullback (1938–1942) [101]
Salonen, BrianBrian Salonen 1961–present Born in Glasgow; raised in Great Falls; attended college in Missoula National Football League tight end and linebacker (1984–1985) [7][102]
Schillinger, ShannShann Schillinger 1986–present Born and raised in Baker; attended college in Missoula National Football League free safety (2010–present) [103]
Scrafford, KirkKirk Scrafford 1967–present Born and raised in Billings; attended college in Missoula National Football League offensive tackle (1990–1998) [104]
Stenerud, JanJan Stenerud 1942–present Moved to Bozeman from Norway to attend college on a ski jumping scholarship American Football League and National Football League placekicker (1967–1985); elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame (1991); recruited to the Montana State University – Bozeman (MSU) football team by Jim Sweeney [10][105][106]
Sweeney, JimJim Sweeney 1929–present Born in Butte; coached college football in Bozeman Head football coach at Montana State University – Bozeman (MSU) (1963–1967), Washington State University (1968–1975), and California State University, Fresno (1976–1977, 1980–1996), compiling a career college football record of 201-153-4; credited with recruiting Jan Stenerud to the MSU team [106][107][108][109]
Sweeney, KevinKevin Sweeney 1963–present Born in Bozeman National Football League quarterback (1987–1988) [110]
Tilleman, MikeMike Tilleman 1944–present Born in Chinook; attended college in Missoula; lives in Havre National Football League defensive tackle (1966–1976) [111][112]
Widmer, CoreyCorey Widmer 1968–present Raised and attended college in Bozeman National Football League linebacker and defensive lineman (1992–1999) [113]

Rodeo[edit]

Man in a rodeo clown outfit at a rodeo
Rodeo clown Flint Rasmussen in 2007
Rodeo performers from Montana
Name Lifetime Montana connection Comments Ref(s)
Linderman, BillBill Linderman 1920–1965 Born in Bridger; raised in Red Lodge Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champion All-Around Cowboy (1950 & 1953); elected to ProRodeo Hall of Fame (1979) [114][115][116][117]
Montana, MontieMontie Montana 1910–1998 Born in Wolf Point Trick roper and rider; actor; stuntman; participant in Tournament of Roses Parade for 60 years [118]
Mortensen, DanDan Mortensen 1968–present Born in Billings; attended college in Bozeman; lives in Manhattan Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champion All-Around Cowboy (1997); World Saddle Bronc Champion (1993–1995, 1997, 1998 and 2003); elected to ProRodeo Hall of Fame (2009) [119][120][121]
Orr, Alice GreenoughAlice Greenough Orr 1902–1995 Born, raised, and lived in Red Lodge Member of National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame and National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum [122][123]
Rasmussen, FlintFlint Rasmussen 1968–present Born in Montana; lives on a ranch near Choteau Rodeo clown; Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association "Clown of the Year" eight consecutive years; former high school science and math teacher [4][5]
Reynolds, BennyBenny Reynolds 1936–present Born and raised in Twin Bridges; lived in Melrose Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champion All-Around Cowboy (1961) [119][124][125]

Wrestling[edit]

Wrestlers from Montana
Name Lifetime Montana connection Comments Ref(s)
Gene Davis 1945-present Born and raised in Missoula, Montana Four-time undefeated (66-0) Montana high school champion, 1960-63; 1965 NCAA champion for Oklahoma State; 1976 Montreal Olympics bronze medalist Freestyle wrestling [1]
Zadick, BillBill Zadick 1973–present Born and raised in Great Falls World Freestyle Championships gold medalist at 66 kilograms (146 lb) (2006) [126]
Zadick, MikeMike Zadick 1978–present Born and raised in Great Falls World Freestyle Championships silver medalist at 60 kilograms (130 lb) (2006) [127]

Other athletes[edit]

Cyclist in a race with helmet on
Cyclist Levi Leipheimer, Germany 2005
Other athletes from Montana
Name Lifetime Montana connection Comments Ref(s)
Anker, ConradConrad Anker 1963–present Lives in Bozeman Mountain climber; member of The North Face climbing team [128][129]
Bergoust, EricEric Bergoust 1969–present Born and raised in Missoula Olympic freestyle skier (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006); gold medalist (1998) [130][131]
Davis, ScottScott Davis 1972–present Born in Great Falls Figure skater; two-time U.S. Champion (1993–1994) [132][133]
Fellers, SierraSierra Fellers 1986–present Born in Whitefish Professional skateboarder [134]
Jardine, KeithKeith Jardine 1975–present Born in Butte Mixed martial arts fighter [135][136][137]
Johnson, DaveDave Johnson 1963–present Raised in Missoula Decathlete; participant in 1988 Summer Olympics; bronze medalist in 1992 Summer Olympics [138][139]
Kimball, NikkiNikki Kimball 1971–present Lives in Bozeman Ultra-distance runner; 50 miles (80 km) Trail National Champion (2003, 2004, 2005) [140][141]
Leipheimer, LeviLevi Leipheimer 1973–present Born in Butte Cyclist; bronze medal at 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics in the individual road time trial [142][143]
Petkevich, John MishaJohn Misha Petkevich 1949–present Raised in Great Falls Olympic figure skater (1968 Winter Olympics, 1972 Winter Olympics); United States Figure Skating Champion and North American Figure Skating Champion in men's singles (1971); earned a Ph.D. in cell biology at University of Oxford as a Rhodes scholar [144][145]
Ramos, MikeMike Ramos 1962–present Lives in Missoula National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) decathlon champion (1986); won three Pac-10 decathlon titles (1983, 1984, 1986); set NCAA decathlon record (8,322 points) in 1986 Pac-10 championship meet; inducted to the Husky Hall of Fame (2000) [146]
Ritzman, AliceAlice Ritzman 1952–present Born and raised in Flathead Valley; attended college in Billings Professional golfer on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour (1978–1998) [147][148][148]
Schmidt, ScotScot Schmidt 1961–present Born in Helena First professional extreme skier [149][150]
Spalding, LeslieLeslie Spalding 1969–present Born in Billings; previously lived in Billings and Bozeman Professional golfer on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour (1995–2005); head coachof women's golf at Montana State University (2007–2011) [151][152]
Swingley, DougDoug Swingley 1953–present Born and raised in Great Falls; lives in Lincoln Dog sled racer; four-time winner of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race (1995, 1999, 2000, 2001) [153][154][155]
Wigger, LonesLones Wigger 1937–present Born in Great Falls Rifle shooter; three-time Olympic medalist—gold and silver in the 1964 Summer Olympics and gold in the 1972 Summer Olympics; once held 80 national championships and 29 world records [156][157]

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