June 3, 2012
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.
Those of us who work at the University of Michigan Athletic Department take great pride in our reputation and ability to compete at the highest level in both athletics and academics. The likes of Denard Robinson, Trey Burke and many more like them are just current headliners doing today what many Wolverine letterwinners did before them.
On Saturday (June 2), nearly 175 of those U-M letterwinners representing all Wolverine sports gathered for the Annual M Day Golf Outing at the University of Michigan Golf Course.
And while many had fun talking about the Robinsons and Burkes, it was the feeling that they were all still an integral part of this program that made this day special.
Our Letterwinners M Club has always supported U-M Athletics, but now they are stepping up to play a bigger role. Not only did the M Club sell out this annual event for the second consecutive year, the club also announced the recipient of the first-ever Letterwinners M Club Post-Graduate Scholarship.
Arianne Field will receive $10,000 from the Letterwinners M Club to continue her education in her chosen field.
Some U-M fans might not remember Arianne. She was a walk-on student-athlete for the women's cross country and the track teams from Kalamazoo Hackett High School. She was a distance runner competing in her specialty through the entire academic year, eventually earning a scholarship.
After the cross country season was completed, she competed in the one-mile run indoors and then the 3,000-meter steeplechase outdoors. Field was the cross country and track and field team captain in 2006-07. She was also part of seven Big Ten championship teams and two top-three NCAA teams.
The steeplechase became Arianne's specialty. In the 2006 NCAA Championships, she placed 10th. Her time in the 2007 NCAA Championships qualified her for the U.S. Olympic trials. She competed in the 2007 USATF Championships but did not compete in the 2008 Olympic Trials, deciding instead to focus on her business career, by accepting a position at banking giant J.P. Morgan. Now, she's looking to advance her professional career by continuing her education.
Our letterwinner alums still spend considerable time and energy continuing their education and developing a career path consistent with their interests and passion. They apply the same discipline and commitment to their careers as they once did to their athletic endeavors.
The University of Michigan has almost 900 student-athletes and more than half have GPAs over 3.0.
The applicant pool for the first ever M Letterwinners Club Post-Graduate Scholarship was very impressive. Those who applied all played their varsity sport at U-M for four years, the average GPA of the candidates was a 3.4 -- with several 3.7+ GPAs -- and everyone had "given back" and has served as an active volunteer for multiple charitable causes.
Current Letterwinners M Club president Mary Petrovich said it best, "We certainly had outstanding candidates for this scholarship who embody the Michigan 'Block M' passion.
Without exception, our finalists serve as role models of success both on and off the field. We had team captains and All-Americans, as well as accomplished student-athletes who did not start in their varsity sport but graduated with the same fire for Michigan as any other teammate."
And she should know. Not only did she play and captain our U-M softball team, she was also a "Captain of American Industry" as the highly successful CEO of AxleTech.
Not every one of our letterwinners becomes the starting quarterback for a Super Bowl champion and not every one of our letterwinners becomes a CEO. However, we sure are proud of the many accomplishments of our former student-athletes -- a sampling of whom participated in this year's annual golf outing.
The NCAA touts that "There are more than 400,000 NCAA student-athletes, and most will be going pro in something other than sports." And those of us at the U-M Athletic Department agree as we strive to create positive academic and athletic experiences for our student-athletes and prepare them to be successful in life.
Now, the Letterwinners M Club is showing how it can help support our current and former U-M student-athlete with their "lives after athletics."
Congratulations to Arianne Field and Go Blue!