Montana Western men's head coach Steve Keller wears a #DurhamStrong shirt during the Montana Western-Montana Tech game on Wednesday. All proceeds from the doubleheader went to Mark Durham, who is fighting cancer.
DILLON — Wednesday night at Keltz Arena, Frontier Conference basketball fans wore red.
The coaches and the players, too, donned red.
Certainly not out of place considering the Bulldogs’ color scheme, the shirts – and the game – were for something bigger than sports.
Printed on the shirts was #DurhamStrong, an ode to Mark Durham, a former Montana Western coach and athletic director who is battling cancer.
Durham wasn’t in attendance, instead watching the game from Arizona where he recently had surgery.
“Great opportunity for us to recognize and thank Mark for everything he’s done for us,” Western women’s coach Lindsay Woolley said. “He spent almost half his life in this town and gave a lot back to this community.”
All proceeds from admissions to the game, concessions and the 50/50 drawing – in the neighborhood of $5,000 -- is going toward Durham’s fight.
“It’s great for this community to come out and show their support for him, and let him know we’re thinking about him,” Woolley said.
Western men’s coach Steve Keller is no stranger to Durham’s impact on Bulldogs athletics. Durham coached Keller’s sons, and when he became the athletic director, he’s the one who hired Keller.
“He hired me and gave me this opportunity,” Keller said. “I’m forever grateful to him for that.
“He’s just a bulldog, He spent a lot of his life here, he bleeds red and black … He means a lot to me and everybody in this community.”
If battle lines are drawn on the court, they don’t extend off it. Durham’s impact has been felt throughout the Frontier Conference, and Tech women’s coach Carly Sanon emphasized that point. She played at Carroll College while Durham was at the helm of Montana Western, and coached his niece in her first two years with Montana Tech.
“Everybody is praying for him,” Sanon said. “It was a big game tonight to honor him because he’s a part of the Frontier for many, many years.”