Aug. 13, 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.
London's 2012 Olympics are over, and we have another four years until the Summer Games come around again. The last few weeks have given us a glimpse of what so many sports and incredible athletes have to offer as impressive, exciting entertainment.
The strength and grace of the gymnasts, the speed of those on the track, the intense action of swimming, the strategy and endurance of field hockey, the toughness of wrestling, the teamwork of rowing, and the physicality of water polo were among just a few of the sports that captured our imagination as we watched the action unfold.
There were Olympic heroes, heroines and leaders. Those stories not only made headlines, they made a lasting impact on individuals around the world.
Now that the Summer Games are over, what can we do to rekindle this excitement locally? How about supporting more of the 29 varsity sports we have to offer!
The University of Michigan athletic department is busy training the future generations of Olympic athletes. This past year, a total of 22 athletes with ties to U-M competed in London. Fans who attended one of our men's swimming meets in the past few years would have personally watched 2012 gold medal winners Tyler Clary, Davis Tarwater and Charlie Houchin as well as bronze medalist Peter Vanderkaay.
If you enjoy water polo you could have witnessed Betsey Armstrong, one of the great players in the sport, competing for U-M at Canham Natatorium. After winning a silver medal with Team USA in Beijing, she followed it up with the gold in London. Or you could have spent a morning at Belleville Lake watching Canada's silver medalist Janine Hanson row for the Wolverines.
Those are just a few of the Michigan Olympians you could have personally observed in action. You could have met additional Olympic participants in those sports as well as women's basketball, men's gymnastics, and men's and women's track and field if you had attended some of these events here on campus.
It's time to change "you could have seen" to "I saw." Fans who missed out on the past Olympians can still watch three of the London Summer Games participants this upcoming season by joining Sam Mikulak and Syque Caesar at one of their men's gymnastics meets at Cliff Keen Arena or by cheering for men's swimmer Connor Jaeger at Canham Natatorium.
This Michigan Olympic presence won't disappear. U-M has had a representative medal in every Summer Olympics since 1900, and we have had gold medalists in all but four. If U-M were a nation, it would rank 19th on the all-time Olympic medal list. There is a good chance those numbers will continue to grow.
The U-M athletic department is committed to a plan to help improve each and every one of our 29 varsity sports and our cheer and dance teams as well. The plan will give all of our 900-plus student-athletes the opportunity to compete at the highest level both academically and athletically while providing them the very best facilities and support possible. We want them ALL to win championships!!
The entire department team will continue to relentlessly strive to help these student-athletes reach their team and individual goals. In many of our sports, our student-athletes will be working to earn the right to represent their country on their sport's biggest stage -- the Olympic Games.
The Olympic Games remind us of the ideal of sportsmanship and celebrate youth and promise. College athletics does the same.
Athletes with the desire and skills to compete in the Olympics are living and performing in our midst. Now we have the opportunity to help these student-athletes in our own way. Not everyone can support these teams financially. However, everyone does have an opportunity to show their support by attending and cheering for these special young people as they prepare for future Olympic Games and perform on our local stage.
The Summer Olympics are over, but our sport seasons are just getting started. Michigan varsity sports will compete in more than 700 events -- home and away -- over the next 10 months. Set a goal to attend at least a couple of events you have never attended before. You will discover great fun and some terrific young athletes.
Then, when the Olympic Games return, you can watch the games and tell everyone, "I saw them perform while they were at Michigan.' Not only will you become a bigger fan, you will have had the opportunity to see and cheer on a future Olympian, up close and personal here on our campus in Ann Arbor.
Congratulations to all the Michigan representatives who competed, coached or worked the 2012 London Summer Games. Thank you for representing the University of Michigan in a big and wonderful way!