Brandon's Blog: Worldwide Competition is Tradition at U-M

July 4, 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.

For Mike Bottom, along with 11 current and former Wolverine swimmers plus two former and current coaches, this month's World University Games in Kazaan, Russia, and the FINA World Championship in Barcelona, Spain, could be considered more than international competitions; it could be part of the University of Michigan Alumni Association foreign event schedule.

Bottom, who helped lead the U-M men's swimming team to the NCAA championship this past March, is heading overseas for almost one month with more than a handful of swimmers representing four different countries and five different teams. (The World University Games are July 6-17, while the FINA World Championship will take place July 19-Aug. 4).

Swimmers are not the only student-athletes representing Michigan on an international stage. Team members of each of our varsity sports are invited and encouraged to take part in international events.

In many cases, the University of Michigan athletic teams also travel abroad. They compete in a series of exhibition contests, allowing our student-athletes an opportunity to see a different part of the world, understand different cultures from how they compete and think about sports to how individuals handle their real world lives.

Recently, our volleyball team journeyed to South America. During the-12 day trip, the team played 10 games, and the volleyball was competitive! But it was more than just volleyball.

Mark Rosen, volleyball's head coach for the past 14 years, penned a blog and wrote what the trip accomplished in the big picture:

"They've all had to communicate in different languages, navigate foreign cultures and customs and overcome uncomfortable and challenging experiences, all of which we know brings about growth. We are in the business of helping young people grow, and trips like this are very valuable toward that process.

When we started the training phase for this adventure we agreed on four goals for the trip.1. Improve as a team to gain a competitive advantage for our 2013 season;

2. Have a FUN experience;

3. Grow even closer as a team;

4. Learn many new things about people, places and cultures we would be exposed to.

Check, Check, Check and Check! Mission Accomplished!"

The women's basketball team will also make a trip to France in August. With a second-year staff headed by head coach Kim Barnes Arico, this trip will look to accomplish those same goals.

Overseas trips are nothing new for student-athletes, coaches and department team members.

The Wolverines first sent representatives to the Paris Olympics in 1900, only after learning that the University of Chicago was sending representation after the Wolverines had just edged the Maroons for the Western Conference track crown. Four track and field athletes along with head coach Keene Fitzpatrick traveled to Paris for the event, returning with three silver medals.U-M baseball was not only the first Michigan varsity sport; it was the first officially rostered team to compete overseas. In 1929, Michigan head coach Ray Fisher and the Wolverine '9' traveled to Japan to play Meiji University as "ambassadors of good will."

Even though international competition is nothing new, in today's world it might be more important. Our student-athletes will graduate and work in a world economy. They need to understand that international success in the real world depends on collaboration, not just competition. They will have to realize and work within a much different framework of social, political, economic, cultural and legal ideals.

The competitive and passionate flame that burns inside these student-athletes can take that love for their sport and use it to better themselves in the real world through these travels.

Yes, the international trips are exciting and fun, but they are also an integral part of the educational mission.

The University of Michigan will once again have strong representation in worldwide sports competition this year.

Good luck to our student-athletes and coaches who will be competing internationally. Not only are you representing Michigan, you are enjoying a learning experience that creates 'The Michigan Difference.'

And just an added suggestion for Mike Bottom: If you are going to have a Michigan Reunion in Kazaan, please invite men's basketball coach John Beilein. He too will be in Russia, coaching the U.S. basketball team at the World University Games.

I know he'll want to enjoy his time with his Maize and Blue compatriots!

Go Blue!

Dave Brandon Home Page