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.
The U-M Athletic Department Mission Statement is simple and direct: "Relentlessly Striving to Make Michigan Athletics the Leaders and Best in Every Way."
This requires a serious commitment to the coaches, support team members and the 930+ student-athletes who represent the Maize and Blue in all 31 of our sports teams. A commitment to provide EVERY team with all of the infrastructure and resources required for them to compete at the highest level in both their academics and athletics.
In 2001, our field hockey team was the first U-M women's team to win an NCAA title. And, after seeing the "less than impressive" facilities we were providing this program when I came on board as Michigan's Director of Athletics, my leadership team and I were committed to work very hard to find the financial resources required to provide this team a facility that would be among the best in the land.
We developed a plan of action, got wonderful support from our generous donors, and now we have the finest field hockey facility in the nation.
The $13.5-million renovation of Phyllis Ocker Field is now complete. It has a new 13,000-square-foot team support building, field lights, video scoreboard, a fan plaza, a 1,500-seat grandstand and more.
The field is U-M blue with maize lines. The color combination used is more than just a statement about our school colors. The field will better absorb reflection and give the student-athletes, fans and TV audience a better viewing experience.
This season we will be proud to host the Big Ten Championships; but to show our new complex off in field hockey's version of prime time, in 2015 we will host the Final Four, including the NCAA championship game. This is the Super Bowl for the sport, and it will showcase U-M field hockey, Ocker Field, the University of Michigan campus and the city of Ann Arbor.
While the new facility will be occupied for the first time by the 2014 Wolverines, Phyllis Ocker Field is for more than just the current student-athletes. This facility is also for the all the field hockey alumni that built this program with their dedication and love for the sport. Their sweat, their tears and their triumphs are the actual 'bricks' for the program's foundation. Now, it is up to this year's Wolverines to put their 'bricks' into the growth and continued success of the program.
The newly renovated Phyllis Ocker Field is one of the "brick and mortar projects" that are an important element of our efforts to create a positive academic and athletic experience for student-athletes. It is a big-time commitment. This new facility has spaces designed to help our field hockey student-athletes work on their academics; improve their strength and conditioning; monitor and protect their health and wellness; sharpen their skills during practice; and display their talents in competition.
It will also be a daily reminder to these young student-athletes that they are on a big stage, and they must make a big-time personal commitment. When they walk into the facility every day, they will understand this facility is an important symbol of the respect and support we are giving them -- and the level of passion and effort we expect in return.
The renovated Phyllis Ocker Field is consistent with the phrase "Leaders and Best." And for our student-athletes, it helps validate the very value that we want them to embrace: to be "Leaders and Best" in their sport and in the classroom.
The Wolverine field hockey team will play its first games on the new field Saturday (Sept. 6) at 1 p.m. against William & Mary and then on Sunday (Sept. 7) at 2 p.m. versus Central Michigan. Admission is free.
It will be a big moment for the U-M Field Hockey and the entire Michigan Athletic Department.
Join us for the fun and Go Blue!