Brandon's Blog: Team Concepts Enable Holiday Cheer

Dec. 22, 2011

Dave Brandon's Holiday Greeting

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.

There is no question about it, when Thanksgiving rolls around and the bowl season excitement shifts into high gear, the holiday season gets in full swing for the Michigan Athletic Department. Not only is there the preparation for the bowl trip, but many of our teams are either busy preparing for the winter season or finishing the fall season.

Thanksgiving is also the time of the year when most families get into the spirit of the season. It seems like the holiday season is the busiest time of the year with shopping, parties and family events.

It's the family traditions we treasure the most, because traditions are what create those memories we all cherish and reflect on every holiday season.

For young students and student-athletes, their first holiday season away from home can be extremely difficult. Student-athletes who are far from home often have their teammates and coaches helping to "fill the void" as they celebrate the holiday season with their new "Michigan Athletics family."

These too become traditions and these traditions are totally consistent with the true meaning of the holiday season.

Many times, traditions and experiences in athletics bring about new and even more impactful opportunities to help others.

One of U-M's best former women student-athletes is Debbie Williams-Hoak. An outstanding track and field student-athlete, she went on to play professional golf.

Today, Williams-Hoak is developing a charity -- The Magic of Christmas Adopt-a-Family Foundation. Working with a number of local businesses and individuals in Washtenaw County, she has been giving back to the community and those in need especially during the holidays.

Kyle Poplin, publisher of The Ann Magazine, wrote a wonderful article for this past October, featuring Debbie and her amazing work on behalf of others. It outlined her accomplishments and highlighted the motivation for Debbie's selfless work on behalf of so many needy families.

"In pursuing her own dreams, Debbie never forgot about the dreams of others," wrote Poplin about Williams-Hoak.

This one sentence not only described Debbie, it described how one can celebrate the holidays without forgetting what is really most important.

Think about it. "The team, the team, the team" is just six words and yet it means so much more than just a reference to sports teams. And, I am proud to report that many of our department team members, coaches, and student-athletes support their local communities in so many ways during this special time of the year.

Our upcoming bowl trip will create great memories for Michigan football players, our coaches, Michigan Athletics team members, and our fans. Whether you are joining us in New Orleans or watching the game on television, it will be a special moment in time we should cherish with our teammates, families and friends. It is a moment many have dreamed about. But it is just that -- one moment, one dream.

The Holiday Season is no different. To create a great moment, we should cherish who and what we have around us. It is another opportunity for us to reach out and make a difference in a way that will create dreams for others to cherish and remember for years. Debbie Williams-Hoak provides a great example for us all!

Enjoy the Holiday Season and enjoy the bowl season, particularly Jan. 3!

If one tradition can be added to your list, do something for someone else -- especially someone in need.

Have a happy and safe Holiday Season!

Go Blue!

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