Brandon's Blog: A Chilling Experience at Michigan Stadium

Feb. 21, 2013

University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page,, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.

Support a Big House Polar Plunger

"The Team, The Team, The Team" is not only a signature quote from our legendary Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler, it resonates today through our entire athletic department as part of our guiding principles.

Bo was known for his outstanding pregame locker room speeches. On Saturday (Feb. 23), one former U-M football coach and our current Wolverine football coach will be giving locker room speeches that might have even given Schembechler chills!

Saturday at noon the Michigan Athletic Department team will be hosting the first Polar Plunge at Michigan Stadium. The event will benefit the Special Olympics-Washtenaw County. Before the contestants who have signed up to make the jump walk down the tunnel and out onto the Big House field, Lloyd Carr and Brady Hoke will be giving the motivational "pregame" speeches.

While the Polar Plunge is fun, the idea for the Athletic Department to team with Special Olympics Michigan-Washtenaw County is serious. The partnership is an overall strategic philosophy of bringing the entire U-M Athletic Department team closer together behind important community causes.

We asked each athletic department team member to nominate one local non-profit organization. The non-profit organization had to be based in Michigan, or if it was a national organization, it had to have a local chapter that gives back to Michigan or the greater local community.

We undertook a very careful and deliberate process in reviewing each and every nomination. This began with an extensive review of the financial records of the organizations nominated with the help of our business services office.

Next, we researched the various ways our team volunteers could contribute their time and efforts. With some nominated organizations, they only needed money or single volunteers. This further eliminated them as potential partners as we were looking for a partner that accommodated a large number of volunteers.

Not only did we research organizations online, we also made calls to the nominated organizations. We wanted to personally vet all our information, learn more about their needs, and understand better how we could partner with them.

The Special Olympics Michigan-Washtenaw County was selected.

Student-athletes, coaches and other members of the athletic staff participate in a variety of charitable activities with many service organizations throughout the year, and we encourage those individuals to continue helping those groups.

This event is not about one individual or one team; it is an event for all 300-plus members of our athletic department.

This group has brought together more than 90 teams from the surrounding Ann Arbor area to help raise funds for Special Olympics. As of Thursday afternoon, more than $100,000 has been donated.

Hundreds of brave souls are expected to defy Old Man Winter to help Special Olympics by taking the plunge in Michigan Stadium. Many will parade in costumes from the locker rooms, down the tunnel to the "waterfront" to make the jump while others will show their support by cheering everyone on and supporting Special Olympics Michigan-Washtenaw County with a financial donation.

Stop on by Michigan Stadium to enjoy the fun and cheer on the participants who will take the Polar Plunge. The event is free and is sure to (eventually) bring warmth to those who helped this worthy cause.

Go Blue!

Go Special Olympics!

And a special thanks to all the donors, sponsors, volunteers and the gutsy jumpers for making this happen.

Michigan Athletics and Special Olympics
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