Doesn’t get more dynamic than this: Quarterback Andrew Selle celebrates leading the Griz to a 24-17 playoff victory over the Appalachian State Mountaineers on Dec. 12, 2009, in Washington-
During football season Andrew Selle was a Montana Grizzlies quarterback hero – the man about campus and town. The rest of the year he was a self-proclaimed math nerd.
Numbers come easily to Selle, whether racking up points with the pigskin on the football field or solving difficult math problems in the classroom – both of which he did quite efficiently during his days at UM. He graduated in 2010 with a 3.79 grade-point average. He was the pride of the team, whose players and coaches recommended him for a Rhodes Scholar nomination.
Though flattered by his Griz family’s faith, Selle decided not to pursue a nomination by the University for the prestigious scholarship. He has other plans for his future that combine both of his passions.
With a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education in hand, he wants to be a high school math teacher who coaches football, though he’d settle for a college-level gig, too. At 23, he’s gaining substitute teaching experience in Missoula, and with his student teaching at Hellgate High School under his belt, he says he’s well prepared.
“I had great professors in a lot of different subjects,” Selle says matter-of-factly. “This is a great institution.”
During his senior season, Selle even got some unexpected front-line coaching training from first-year head coach Robin Pflugrad and his staff. Selle saw his stellar quarterback career sadly come to an end when he went down with a torn rotator cuff in the fourth game of the 2010 season, his final year of eligibility.
Selle really can’t find words to describe how hard it was on him and the team to have that career-ending injury after performing so well as the starting quarterback for the Grizzlies during the entire previous season. The team lost its quarterback, its captain, its leader, its inspiration.
“It was tough; it was really tough,” he remembers, still showing signs of emotion. “I’d taken big hits before and just gotten up. But you know in your gut, especially when it’s your throwing arm, you know it’s not good.”
In 2009, the only full season in which Selle started at quarterback, he led the Grizzlies to a 14-1 season, losing only to Villanova 23-21 in the Football Championship Subdivision championship game. He threw for 3,043 yards and 28 touchdowns, leading the Big Sky Conference, and was ranked fourth in the FCS in passing efficiency. He began the 2010 season as one of the most prolific offensive returnees in the FCS and was a candidate for the Walter Payton Award, given to the subdivision’s top offensive player.
The injured Selle realized he couldn’t sit on the sidelines doing nothing. Since he had been the team’s captain, he remained its inspiration.
“I had to be the vocal leader in the locker room,” he says. “At the start of practice, I would pull them all together and give them a little talk. I was always that vocal leader.”
Once on the field, he had a different role. “I basically turned into a coach on the sideline doing anything I could do to help the team.”
Selle says it was amazing to play in a facility like Washington-Grizzly Stadium, which he considers much better in every respect than most other stadiums the Grizzlies played in – especially with the atmosphere and crowds on game day. He lets out a big sigh as he fondly recalls the practice fields on beautiful Missoula fall days, and says, “You just have to sit and look at it. It’s just something special that other schools don’t have.
“It’s pretty unique. I was happy when we had the games broadcast (nationally on ESPN) from here so we could show off UM,” he says.
Selle thinks like tens of thousands of current students and alumni: The University’s location, scenic campus and top-notch faculty make it a dynamic learning environment. UM consistently is recognized as one of the most attractive and enticing campuses in the nation.
People are drawn to UM by the richness of experiences, scenic beauty, lifelong learning, and cultural and entertainment opportunities. The University strives to ensure that its surroundings are integrated into the campus curriculum. Campus leaders want to inspire an atmosphere where engagement and passion for learning thrive. In regard to buildings and other infrastructure, campus workers strive to use technologies that optimize the learning experience while modeling sustainability.
Selle’s experience is uniquely his own, but rich possibilities for all students are there for them to embrace, says Jed Liston, UM assistant vice president for enrollment.
“Where else in the world can students find this many opportunities in one place? Close contact with their faculty, a natural learning lab outside of the classroom, some of the finest minds and people right here,” Liston says.
Beyond traditional classroom lectures and seminars taught by renowned faculty, campus offers Web- and video-based classes to rural and place-bound learners and reaches out to surrounding communities with classes to meet local needs.
“Students are completely blown away by our immersive learning environment,” Liston says. “They appreciate where the University is located and enjoy the opportunity to use it to recreate. They enjoy the opportunity to create in the classroom.”
Campus also includes many outstanding learning environments, such as the new Payne Family Native American Center – the nation’s finest university building for Native studies and students.
To sustain a world-class, student-centered campus, UM will monitor student-engagement survey results and the percentage of facilities and learning spaces that are sustainable, accessible and innovative. It also will engage in partnerships locally and worldwide, gauging the value of these programs through reviews, program numbers and participation.
Campus will monitor success in recruitment, retention and development of the highest-quality students. UM also will increase the number of diverse interdisciplinary learning experiences and the participation levels of such offerings.
All this adds up to providing a spectacular learning environment for every type of student – even the quarterback math nerd.
UM math Professor Rick Billstein (right) was Selle’s adviser during his college years. Billstein wrote many of the math texts cluttering his office.
Recent graduate Selle, who majored in mathematics education, walks through UM’s new teacher-education facility, the Phyllis J. Washington Education Center.