In addition to all the reunion fun of all schools, the Town of Shelby is hosting the Grand Opening of Krysko Park on Saturday, July 10, starting at 3 p.m. at the skate park, located at 619 Main Street in Shelby. Larry Krystkowiak and perhaps Jeff Ament will be on hand to celebrate the new park.
Originally from Shelby, Larry Krystkowiak graduated from high school in Missoula before going to the University of Montana and preparing for the Griz from 1983 to 1986. To this day, he still holds the goal and rebound records of Montana all-time, surpassing 2,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.
Krystkowiak burst onto the scene in 1983, when he was named the Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year. He was just getting started, as over the next three seasons he won MVP honors every season. He became the league’s first three-time MVP, also earning All-America recognition in each of those seasons. Off the court, he was three times Academic Academic.
After a remarkable college career that saw him make the nation’s top 10 for his rebounds over three consecutive seasons, Krystkowiak enjoyed a brilliant professional career, first invited to the 1984 Olympic Trials, before being chosen No. 28 overall in the 1986 NBA. Draft, the kickoff of a nine-year career in the NBA.
Krystkowiak was recently inducted into the Montana Track and Field Hall of Fame and became the only male basketball player in school history to retire his number (42).
Prior to becoming an assistant and head coach of the NBA, and spending a decade at the University of Utah, where he was named the 2018 Pac-12 Coach of the Year, Krystkowiak made his debut as a coach in his alma mater. He was an assistant coach in Montana from 1998-2000, before leading the Griz to back-to-back Big Sky Conference championships in his two seasons as head coach, including a loss to Nevada in the first round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
Jeff Ament is a musician and songwriter who is best known as the founding bassist of rock band Pearl Jam. Jeff grew up in Big Sandy. He attended the U of M before moving to Seattle to pursue his love of music. Jeff was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Pearl Jam in 2017. Jeff has helped fund skate park projects across Montana through his charitable foundation, Montana Pool Services. He built skate parks from St. Ignatius to Glendive, from Missoula to Red Lodge and now Shelby!
The park is off to a good start! What started as an email from former Shelbyite, Larry Krystkowiak, has turned into an incredible gift for the town of Shelby!
“My friend Jeff Ament, bassist for Pearl Jam, is very interested in building a skate park for Shelby and he asked if I could contact you,” Larry wrote. The City’s message in return… “What a great surprise. Thanks so much for thinking of Shelby! We love our community and would love to see another convenience that our children and families can enjoy! “
Ament’s charitable foundation, Montana Pool Services, has been building skate parks across Montana for nearly three decades.
Growing up in the small town of Big Sandy himself, Jeff knows firsthand how beneficial an outing skating can be in the life of a youngster. Montana Pool Service is now working not only with rural Montana communities to provide skateparks, but also offers scholarships to young people in those cities who hope to continue their education and seize opportunities that would be harder to take advantage of.
Jeff’s mission reads: “I love Montana. Especially small towns, the great outdoors, clean air, lakes, rivers, mountains, great plains, forests. Our goal is to build small, world-class skateparks in every town in Montana that welcomes us. Connecting the youth and young adults of rural Montana to the rest of the state and the world through skateboarding. In the process, teach them to be creative, tough, artistic, tolerant, active and all about the fantastic feeling of freedom to ride a skateboard.
Montana Pool Service contracted with Evergreen Skateparks to build the park on the former tennis courts at Meadowlark Park. The project started in mid-October and ended shortly after the first snowstorm in November!
Larry wrote: “I’m excited! I like the idea of helping the community and the surrounding area. The pool, baseball fields, tennis court, basketball gyms are the places I spent so much time as a kid and I hope the kids (and adults) can enjoy it. ‘a skate park of this magnitude. Jeff is the man… I’m right here for the ride.
Cool drinks will be offered with Pepsi Bottling. In addition, Donato Rigg, of Donato Works, will provide free bicycle maintenance and may provide bicycles for children in need. Elisha Dempsey and Dennis Knickerbocker of the Lona’s Inc. Charitable Foundation will have skateboards and scooters to donate, as well as the town of Shelby will have a design for four sets of helmets, knee pads and elbow pads.
There will also be an information table, Wear It For Berrett. Wear It For Berrett is a non-profit organization formed after the tragic death of Berrett Crossley, of Buckley, Wash. Berrett was wrecked on his skateboard as he attempted a new trick in March of this year. Berrett was not wearing his helmet. As a result, he suffered a head injury that would have taken his young life. Berrett was 13 years old. Her accident sparked a passionate mission, a wish to help ensure that such a tragedy does not happen to another family, another child.
Wear It For Berrett’s mission is to educate all generations on the importance of wearing a helmet, as well as providing helmets to individuals and communities where the cost is prohibitive. Although still in their infancy, they have donated over 100 helmets to individuals and programs, organized large gatherings, held pop-up events, and sold or distributed hundreds of items carrying the important message. “Wear it for Berrett.”
Berrett’s aunt, Lacie Stone, will be on hand to answer questions and educate families about the importance of wearing a helmet.