Three-time USA Olympian Peter Vanderkaay
Oct. 15, 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.
The Olympics are a riveting event for athletes and fans alike. It is the pinnacle of sporting events for more young men and women in the world than any other event.
When someone makes an Olympic team, it's a dream come true, a phenomenal accomplishment realized by so few.
So when the 25 Wolverine Olympians made their way onto the field Saturday afternoon (Oct. 13) to be honored at the 112th homecoming football game, one might think the event didn't live up to the hype of what they experienced on the world stage.
These are the Olympic athletes that represented their countries and the University of Michigan. Saturday was the day when they had an opportunity to walk down the tunnel and then onto the field in front of 100,000-plus fans. Those fans gathered to watch a football game, but at that single moment in the first quarter, they cheered in unison as each Olympian was introduced on the north goal line.
It was a "goose bump" moment for each and every one. They were able share in the legacy of the block M.
Now, let's add homecoming to the mix and this becomes even more special. When alums come back, they have the same thing in mind -- making sure that the University of Michigan lives on and continues to grow and to pass on the traditions they felt were important to their school and program.
These Olympic athletes are the conduit between the current and future U-M students and the alumni. For the most part, they have taken their sport as far as it could take them, and now they will be going into the "real world." These Olympic athletes will be the fathers and mothers, lawyers and judges, doctors and teachers of the future.
They also have a place in U-M's storied athletic history. These Olympians have seen this athletic department grow and have been an integral part of that growth. They understand what it means to be a letterwinner and what those before them have accomplished to help them achieve their success. They know they have stood on the shoulders of champions, and they know the current and future student-athletes will stand on their shoulders to reach new heights.
Indeed, they have been honored for more than just the Olympics. They were honored for what they have done, what they are doing, and what they will do in the future.
What they did in London was a direct result of the time they spent at the University of Michigan. Believe me, every one of those Olympic athletes has an affinity for U-M.
Great athletes enjoy the moment when it is up to them to perform. They also enjoy the moment when the focus is on their accomplishment.
The standing ovation they received from the Michigan Stadium crowd was a wonderful show of respect and admiration. It was a moment they knew how important it was to represent the University of Michigan. It was a moment the University of Michigan Olympic athletes will always remember.
It was their homecoming!