Feb. 25, 2014
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, mgoblue.com/brandon, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.
Perhaps it is not the kind of trivia question that would make a University of Michigan fan race to the Internet looking for an answer, but it is a question worth noting in the history of Michigan Athletics: What day did the Wolverine women's lacrosse team play its first game?
There was no major media coverage, no marching bands. Just a few hundred fans in the stands at Villanova Stadium in Philadelphia to watch the Michigan women's lacrosse team play its first varsity game against Villanova University this past Saturday (Feb. 22).
The Wildcats defeated U-M, 20-7, but the score was secondary. It was the day Jennifer Ulehla had been waiting for since Sept. 8, 2011, when she was announced as the Wolverines' first head coach for women's lacrosse, and it was date fans of the sport have been waiting for since we announced the addition of men's and women's lacrosse in May 2011.
Nobody likes waiting, and few of us could understand the inner struggles of a head coach waiting years to get his or her team into competition.
It was 908 days from the day Ulehla was hired until Saturday's first game. Throughout it all, she showed patience and perseverance. She is ultra-competitive, and she worked hard to build a program from the ground up. She hired coaches and staff, recruited student-athletes, and helped market a team that she could not actually define until competition started in earnest.
This past Saturday it all changed. Ulehla returned to the sidelines to coach a team she has been patiently developing for its first official game.
It was just 32 seconds into the match when freshman Tess Korten scored the first goal in U-M women's lacrosse history on an assist from freshman Jess Angerman. I doubt Korten and Angerman could possibly have recognized the importance of the occasion or even thought much about how their names would be forever etched in Michigan women's lacrosse history. Instead, it was a moment of excitement and joy for the entire team as Michigan found itself leading the first game in the history of the program.
The first game is now in the record books. Ulehla and her young team comprised of 27 freshmen have seen for the first time how this team responds on the field of competition. It was a big step. Now, the coaches, staff and the team will be able to use W's and L's to help gauge their improvement. Their goal this year is to improve each and every day.
Still, the past 31 months of preparation will be more important than game one. Those were the days when Ulehla developed a strategy to produce a plan for Team One, laid a foundation, and committed to building something strong.
Ulehla played an integral role in the initial phases of building a competitive Division I program at the University of Florida, and now she has the responsibility to build a championship program at the University of Michigan.
This Friday (Feb. 28) at 5 p.m. at Oosterbaan Field House, the Wolverines will play their first varsity women's lacrosse home game when they host Marquette. It will be a special day for the student-athletes, coaches and staff, and it will be another historic moment in the tradition of Michigan Athletics.
Another milestone took place on Saturday (Feb 22) when the Michigan women's tennis team defeated Western Michigan, 7-0. The victory gave head coach Ronni Bernstein her 300th career win. Congratulations to Ronni and the team for helping make Saturday a great day for the Michigan Athletic Department team.