Letterwinners M Club President Dan Sygar Says Good-Bye

June 2, 2011

Dear U-M letter winners:

I never thought this would be so much fun.

It's a great honor---and a joy---to be president of the Letterwinners M Club, if only for a few more days. On M Day, June 4, my year ends and I'll proudly pass the reigns to Mary Petrovich, an irrepressible spirit who captained the M softball team back in the early days of Coach Carol Hutchinson. Mary's a proven skilled business leader who makes good things happen. She'll no doubt do a lot right by the club.

In the last year, it's become clearly evident to me how powerful the Michigan athletics brand truly is. I've met and gotten reacquainted with so many who played at Michigan, still love Michigan, value our great tradition, and want to see Michigan win but only with our typical brand of Michigan class, integrity and honor.

Being president has brought me back to 100 S. State St. more frequently than any time since I played here (baseball) in the early '80s. There's nothing like the energy, the palpable energy on the Michigan athletic campus. I forgot what it's like to have hundreds of driven, talented, well-spoken, intelligent young people from all over the nation with tons of hope, optimism, and a will to win, all in the same couple square miles. No wonder so many people have worked in the athletic department for so long. It's a drug, the safe, legal, healthy kind.

Which makes it no surprise there are so many successful ex-Michigan student athletes. And as for the Michigan student-athletes who have left and gone away, it's amazing how many want to "give back." We hear from so many who want to make sure the same opportunities they had when they were competing at Michigan are there now for Michigan student-athletes.

It's been an interesting and productive year for the Letterwinners M Club as a partner of the U-M athletic department. As always, the club is run by a volunteer board of 18---we and it's been a godsend to have an athletic director who's one of us. Dave Brandon played here, and he supports the family of ex-Michigan student-athletes. The longtime Michigan sports information director Bruce Madej has been loaned to us, and he's been the perfect liaison between the current athletic department and the Letterwinners M Club. What we've needed most is improved means of communication, and Bruce has kicked started that effort considerably. He spearheaded the redesign---and vast improvement ---of our web site, And we're diving headfirst into social media, because of Bruce's passion for it. Keeping our members informed is job one, and Bruce is helping get the job done.

Your Letterwinners M Club is comprised of more than 9,000 men and women who earned a varsity letter in a sport here at Michigan. We were backstrokers who are now engineers, NCAA champion wrestlers who are now financial analysts, setters who are now school teachers, outfielders who are now advertising executives, quarterbacks who are now airline pilots and athletic directors, and centers who are now lawyers. We're in virtually every state of the union, and, you'd expect in a world that has gotten flatter and flatter, in countries around the globe.

Among the dues-paying members of our club, we have 5 architects. 16 accountants. 25 coaches or athletic administrators. 14 in automotive. More than 70 bankers, financial officers and financial planners, and stock brokers. 2 builders. 3 members of the clergy, thank god. 22 consultants. 5 dentists. 22 educators. 35 engineers. 80---count 'em---80 lawyers/attorneys (but only one law enforcement professional), 21 physicians, 2 physicists, 3 pilots, 3 psychologists, 20 in real estate, 2 reporters/correspondents, 8 researchers, 20 teachers, 5 surgeons, 35 sales reps, and six who list their current occupation as "Retired, completely."

Of our dues-paying membership, several dozen hold the title of owner, president, CEO, chairman or CFO within their organization.

Through a partnership we've forged and continue to strengthen with Shari Acho---Shari runs the Michigan athletic department's professional and career transition program team---we're getting current Michigan student-athletes valuable exposure to the real world, our real worlds. She's arranged for current Michigan student-athletes to shadow ex-Michigan student-athletes at their places of work for a work day or a half day, and for some to have summer internships. She's also partnered with Clay Miller, an ex-Michigan football player, in mentoring current Michigan student-athletes. Shari wants to refine, expand and improve her program, and we want to help her. Turns out we've got lots of Michigan letterwinners wanting to help, too.

It's been a fun year, and I've never been so proud to call myself a Michigan man.

Dan Sygar

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