Brandon's Blog: U-M Student-Athletes Express Their Gratitude
Jordan Kovacs

Dec. 7, 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,, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.

On Monday night (Dec. 3) at Laurel Manor in Livonia, the U-M Club of Greater Detroit hosted the 93rd annual University of Michigan Football Bust. The seniors of Team 133 showed their emotion and love for their teammates, coaches, staff, fans and foremost for the University of Michigan.

Then one day later, I had the good fortune to preview a video that we have now sent out to our donors expressing the appreciation of our U-M student-athletes for their support. This video was the idea of two of our women's soccer players, Claire Stachel and Holly Hein.

Not only did they edit and produce the piece, they oversaw the entire project, bringing together Rob Healy (men's lacrosse), Rebecca Addison (women's cross country and track), Jordan Kovacs (football) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (men's basketball) to show their gratitude as to what it means to be a Michigan Wolverine.

These two events were personal for me. I was a student-athlete here at Michigan; I know how this university helped me.

These two events allowed me to pause, reminisce and smile knowing the Michigan Athletic Department is still creating positive athletic and academic experiences and changing young people's lives for the better.

At the Bust, bonding over their love of football and the University of Michigan, a sellout crowd enjoyed dinner, shared stories, and then celebrated Team 133 -- with special emphasis on the seniors.

After walking to the podium and receiving his "M" ring, each senior spoke about what it meant to play football at Michigan, thanking the fans, teammates, coaches and many talented people who worked "behind the scenes" to help them achieve success.

Roy Roundtree could not hold back the tears as he thanked associate athletic director Greg Harden for pushing him in school and in life and being that "positive influence."

Senior Denard Robinson said, "It's been an honor to play for Michigan and wear the winged helmet."

And then when it was Team 133 MVP Jordan Kovacs (only the third safety in the history of Michigan football to win the honor), you knew immediately why he was voted by his teammates as one of the two co-captains.

"I'm truly, truly humbled," Kovacs said. "It's just been an honor to play for this university. It was a dream come true when I first walked on, and that's how I approached it day in and day out.

"I've always been proud to wear the winged helmet and have just given everything I could to this university. I can't be thankful enough."

When you left Laurel Manor, there was an atmosphere of goodwill. The fans appreciated the football team, and the football team showed its appreciation for their support.

Then to preview the video created by Clare and Holly less than 12 hours later, the feeling returned immediately.

This video wasn't just for one team, it was for all of our 31 teams and more than 900 student-athletes. It demonstrated appreciation for the opportunities they have been given at the University of Michigan.

To hear our student-athletes talk about their experiences, their appreciation and gratitude reinforces my belief that college athletics serves a noble and important purpose. It is helping to shape the lives of our student-athletes. Listen to our student-athletes. They articulate the importance of this chapter in their lives better than I ever could!

We all need to remember what this experience is all about for these young people. Behind the hype, the pressure, and the high expectations they operate under for their years as a student-athlete at Michigan are life lessons and values that will help them become great husbands and wives, moms and dads, leaders in their communities, and successful people in their career endeavors.

Not all of them will leave Michigan as champions of their sport, but they will leave here prepared to be champions in their lives after athletics.

Go Blue!

Student-Athlete Gratitude Video
Dave Brandon Home Page