June, 2017


Bobs Blog
This photo was taken in a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.

I would like to thank you for allowing me to serve as the Letterwinners President for the past three years. I have been blessed to meet so many of you and hear all of your great stories about Michigan.

Andy Matthews a former UM golfer will be the next President. Andy will do a tremendous job carrying on the many Letterwinner traditions.

The club is in great shape; we are fiscally strong in assets and just had a record membership drive. We increased communications with the enewsletter and held more events than ever before. The club continues to offer the graduate scholarship. We will continue donating $50,000 per year back to Michigan for the new golf clubhouse to complete our $250k gift. We continue to offer benefits to our members that include access to the two golf courses, the tennis center, discounts for M Den and the new Banner Experience. We were able to accomplish all of this because of members like you!

I'll end with the famous Fielding H. Yost quote:

"But do let me reiterate the spirit of Michigan. It is based upon a deathless loyalty to Michigan and all her ways; an enthusiasm that makes it second nature for Michigan men to spread the gospel of their university to the world's distant outposts; a conviction that nowhere is there a better university, in any way, than this Michigan of ours." F.H. Yost

Thank you and Go Blue!

Bob Stites
President, Letterwinners M Club

"Michigan" Traits

Since 2006, the Letterwinners Club has been selecting a Raeder's Raiders Spirit Award winner which recognizes a current varsity athlete for character, teamwork, dedication, perseverance, and intensity of athletic performance while coming off the bench. It's named after J. Paul Raeder, a member of the Michigan football team from 1957 to 1961, and a number of his teammates known collectively as "Raeder's Raiders." I was fortunate enough to play football with Paul's two sons in high school. They were a few years older than me, but they were both great athletes. They went on to Princeton to study and play football. Paul lived a life of purpose both at Michigan and beyond. His life as an architect was cut short as he lost his battle to cancer. I feel like the award, which is sponsored by his family, keeps Paul alive in a pretty amazing way.

Our award winner this year, Ally Davis, also faced some challenges. Here's what her Coach Mark Rosen shared with us for her nomination:

Bobs Blog
"Due to injuries and circumstances outside of her control Ally's career impact came mostly in practice and coming off of the bench in competitive situations. In 2012, Ally's freshman year, she had worked into a starting role about a third of the way into the season. Ally made the tough decision to stop training and undergo a very difficult process to donate stem cells to her older sister, Ashley. Ashley was battling with a challenging form of Leukemia and Ally was the best possible match for her situation. That process took Ally out of our starting line-up on a team that eventually advanced to the NCAA Final Four. In Ally's junior year, she had worked her way back into our starting line-up and then suffered a torn ACL in our first Big Ten match to end her season early. Even though Ally's playing time was limited throughout her career, she was always one of our hardest workers, most unselfish teammates, and a great leader. She served as a captain this past season and was a constant inspiration to her teammates and coaches. I can't think of another player we have had who would exemplify the Raeder's award more than Ally Davis."

We all think of athletic ability when we think of athletes, but sometimes the mental toughness, the grit, and the drive to work through events we have no control over is just as important. Paul and Ally both have these characteristics, as do many of you. Keep applying these "Michigan" traits as long as you can. These traits help and add value to our families, friends, co-workers, and our communities, just like Ally continues to do.


Bob Stites
President, Letterwinners M Club

Silver Linings

In the world of athletics, things don't always turn out like we plan. However, winners learn to work with the results and move forward. I was reminded of this life lesson as we launched our annual Letterwinners M Club membership mailing a few months ago. The first mailing had errors in memberís names and addresses, but the second went much smoother and the mailhouse made it right at no cost to the Club or our members.

The silver lining, as a result of those mistakes, is that we ended up connecting with many of our members about what they truly value about the M Club. We listened to their stories about their teams from all eras, their coaches, wins, losses, and the fond memories of Ann Arbor. We heard from a younger member who has moved to 3 different cities in 5 years, but wanted to make sure we had their current contact information. We also heard from older members who wanted to make sure their legacy at Michigan is remembered.

As board members of the Letterwinners Club, we believe one of our primary responsibilities is to be the keeper of the stories - we hear you! We will do everything we can with the addition of the new clubhouse, utilization of different media outlets, and correspondence with the Bentley Library, to post and keep your stories here in our huge maize and blue hearts forever. As Michigan athletes, you are wired for greatness and you will use your experience to do great things in this world. We remain grateful for the silver lining conversations with our members because it affirmed our connection to each other as the leaders and best. Thanks for all your support!


Bob Stites
President, Letterwinners M Club

Ice Hockey Alum Battles ALS

This past weekend, the hockey alumni had a successful fundraiser for Scott Matzka. For those of you who may not know Scott, he was 2001 alum of the hockey program who was diagnosed with ALS a few years ago. Please click here for more information.

It is amazing how, when needed, we can come together to get things done for each other. After my graduation from the football program, we raised some money to help a teammate with medical bills from cancer treatments.

Life isn't always fair. Things don't always go our way, but what we all learned at Michigan was how to fight and keep fighting as long as we can. Sometimes you do all the right things, and the score still doesn't change. The game, and life, is about the fight and the journey. That journey is sometimes shorter than we expect, but we always give it our best. The only way we know. The Michigan way. Keep fighting Scott! Your team and your University fight with you.


Bob Stites
President, Letterwinners M Club

The Tailgate Connection

When I look back at our Letterwinners tailgates for this fall, I am filled with gratitude for everything that happened. We had access to some amazing locations, where we had great vendors, sponsors, and food, and where the perfect DJ brought it all together. We were also able to team up with the new football alumni group. Thank you to everyone who participated in any of our tailgates this year.

While the location, food, music, and tents were better than ever, they are all window dressing for the most important part of tailgating. It is more about the teams and teammates reuniting. The best part is watching Letterwinners who haven't seen each other in years, or even decades, come together. Listening to their stories is an extraordinary experience.

I am blessed to have 2 daughters attending The University of Michigan. After my younger daughter stopped by a few of our tailgates she said to me, "Wow, I've never seen so many grown men cry." My response to her was, "That's what being on a team means. You build connections that will last a lifetime." We can only hope that as we go on in our family lives, at our jobs, and on boards all over the country, that we can create that type of connection with the people around us. The world would be a better place if this were true.

Safe travels if you're going to the Orange Bowl, or traveling over the holiday season. We have more great events and benefits planned for the Letterwinners M Club in 2017!


Bob Stites
President, Letterwinners M Club

Happy "Blue" Year, Letterwinners!

As president of the Letterwinners M Club, I have to ask you, "Who has it better than us?" And anyone who is up on current Harbaugh culture will answer, "Noooo-body!!!"

We are committed to our members through growing events, benefits, recognition, and connections to Michigan Athletics, and for 2016-17 The Letterwinners M Club has more events and opportunities than we have ever had!

Check out the schedule for more FREE tailgates for all Letterwinners with MFAN. We want to be your one-stop shop for football tickets and tailgates. Our annual Letterwinners-only tailgate will be prior to the Penn State game on September 24 when we will give out our club awards. And new this year is the Banner Experience, where members can sign up to hoist the banner pregame for sports throughout the year.

Any hey! We're even taking our Letterwinners show on the road to a tailgate with the Alumni Association at the Rutgers football game. In addition to the football games, and other usual activities, we have the NEW M Room coming soon, the NEW Nike gear available at a 15% in-store discount at the M Den, and NEW tennis center benefits. Stay tuned to the Letterwinners M Club website, to the e-newsletter, and to Bob's Blog for everything M Club!

Call some of your old teammates and tell them to join the club! Because who's got it better than us? NOOOO-BODY!


Bob Stites
President, Letterwinners M Club

The Women are just Winning!

Bobs Blog

My wife and I always enjoy going to the UM tennis matches and watching some great games. Coach Bernstein is an excellent coach. Recently, we were over at the tennis building for the women's matches and I noticed how many Big Ten banners the women have won. After counting, I discovered it was 5 in a row! They have won every year since 2010!

After making that discovery, I looked into what other teams here at Michigan have won many Big Ten titles in a row, and I learned that the softball team is at 8 in a row! The women's gymnastics team is also consistently one of the top teams in the nation. The women's swimming team just won the Big Ten title again, and the field hockey team is always one of the best in the country.

Don't get me wrong, I love our football, basketball, hockey teams and other men's teams. But these women's programs are getting things done. In a time when there are 14 teams in the Big Ten, the women's teams continue to dominate! They might not get the crowds, fans and coverage of the men's sports, but the women's teams are best of the best.

So go out and catch a women's game sometime. You'll see a lot of great letterwinners winning for Michigan again and again!

Go Blue!

Bob's Blog: Cajun Food, Voodoo, and Go Blue

Bobs Blog

While we are THE University of Michigan, we have always welcomed out-of-staters. Back in my playing days, two such guys were on the team from Louisiana - Leroy Hoard and Warde Manuel. Now, most of us were from Michigan or Ohio, so having a few guys from the deep South was intriguing to us. They would entertain us with their tales of Cajun food, alligators, and Louisiana voodoo. We loved hearing the stories as much as those guys loved telling them.

Leroy had a great career as a Wolverine and a nice run in the NFL. But Warde. Warde was different. Sidelined with a severe neck injury, Warde channeled his love of sport into an alternative career. He got his Michigan degree, followed by another, and another... all intending to remain within the collegiate athletics ranks. I knew coaches at the University of Buffalo when Warde was an administrator, and they only had high praises for his leadership. And then I have a neighbor who played baseball at the University of Connecticut when Warde was an administrator there. He told me that everyone at Connecticut believed my Louisiana teammate was destined for an AD position at a major university.

And as if determined by fate, it seems so right to me that he's back in Ann Arbor.

Coach Hanlon used to say, "I'll tell you what kind of man you'll be in 10, 20, or 30 years...what kind of person you are in your sporting days determines your life. What kind of spouse are you? What kind of parent? And how do you represent your community?" We didn't get it then - we were just trying to get through practice. But, I see the truth that Coach Hanlon understood and wanted us to understand too.

Well, Mr. Manuel...Coach Hanlon, Bo, and all your old teammates can say that you're the kind of man they knew you to be: A Michigan Man. Welcome Home!

Go Blue!


We Are Family

Bobs Blog

Happy New Year everyone! The Board and I are looking forward to a great 2016!

My wife and I went to see Creed over the holidays - the latest in a long line of Rocky sequels. She caught me wiping a tear, and I confessed to her that I am getting soft as I age. Not a bad kind of soft, though; I've still got the brain of a linebacker! No, it's the good soft - the human, feeling, caring kind of soft...the soft that unites us as family. You see, family was a running theme of the movie, while we lost ourselves in its story about Apollo Creed's son's worthiness in the ring.

In addition to my own family and close relatives, I consider UM my family. As Letterwinners, we all found those brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, mothers, and fathers in our teammates, trainers, coaches and staff during our years at Michigan. As a matter of fact, we actually bumped into, and then sat with, long-time wrestling coach and 2015 Honorary M Letterwinner, Dale Bahr, at the movie. Being there with him watching a film about heart was what made me realize the transformative power of our shared story at UM.

Our shared stories connect us at the heart - the same heart that led Adonis Johnson to the ring; that led me and my twin brother to the Big House; that led thousands of Wolverines into a competitive career that would then shape the rest of their lives. Sport teaches us life. Sport teaches us community. Sport teaches us to feel, to care, and how to be a decent human being. And there is nothing soft about that.

Go see Creed. You'll find family there.

Go Blue!


Somewhere in Time

Bobs Blog

I love sport - it's magical. It's meaningful. It reminds us of our connectedness. Recently, my wife and I attended a UM hockey game. Since my brother-in-law Roger Bourne is a former UM hockey player, their family's religion is hockey, and their cathedral is at the arena. And because they're my family now, I've learned to love it, too.

Just as any religion has its sanctuaries and cathedrals, Michigan Hockey has Yost Fieldhouse, which to me, is all that is great about Michigan athletics. It's a holy, living monument to Michigan history from its earliest days. Because I have such curiosity about all things Michigan, The Big House: Fielding H. Yost and the Building of Michigan Stadium by Robert M. Soderstrom was a great read. The book covers building the Big House, Yost and the IM Building.

Jim Keough, who played and coached hockey for the Maize and Blue, tells the story about when Crisler Arena was built, Al Renfrew asked him to go over and see if a hockey rink would fit in Yost. He measured it, and lo and behold, a rink would just fit. So that was the end of the Coliseum era for hockey and the beginning of the Yost era. Several teams have called Yost home, including but not limited to track, football, baseball, basketball, and most recently, hockey.

Today, Yost boasts the latest technology with the media screens, a new state-of-the-art ice rink, and updates that rival new construction; yet the near century-old walls drip with rich, Michigan athletic history. Just like you can't replicate the feel of an old church into new construction, Yost has held the soul of Michigan athletics since 1923. Even our own legendary coach Red Berenson, fits Yost like a perfectly molded skate.

Between periods of that game, I walked around to check out the field house. The photos on the old brick walls keep the history alive. As Letterwinners, I'm going to say that when we all played our sports, Michigan history was probably not in foremost in our consciousness. We wanted to be faster, stronger, better, and win championships in our sport. But whether we acknowledged it or not, the history was there, and I believe it's one of the biggest reasons we chose Michigan. But now, as time has passed, we grow in our love and appreciation of all that Michigan was, is, and will be. You are now part of the shared stories on those walls - the generations of all who are the Leaders and the Best, connected by a common belief in the power of the competitive spirit.

By the way, Michigan beat Robert Morris 5-4 that night. Great comeback. GO BLUE!

October, 2015

Bobs Blog Oct

Happy October, Letterwinners! Just like the football team, our Letterwinners M Club is on a roll. We hosted our annual tailgate last month out on the golf course where we bestowed our annual awards. Coach James Henry went home with the Ufer Award, while Steve Burns and Dale Bahr each received an honorary "M." The M Club then packed up, traveled to our social event in Maryland, and proceeded to scare away Hurricane Joaquin!

When we get together over the games, we share our stories, renew our relationships and our love for Michigan and anyone who has competed, or who currently competes for the Maize and Blue. I so enjoyed watching all of Coach Henry's former track athletes share his joy of receiving the Ufer Award - which was so well deserved after over three decades of leading UM Track and Field to national prominence. Between Coach Henry, Steve, and Dale, the tailgate was a truly happy event!

In Maryland, we celebrated our new BIG 10 rivalry with the Terrapins. We gave them a healthy dose of our Wolverine fan base, and again they saw the power of the Big Stage of the BIG 10. Our members truly enjoyed the camaraderie of the event.

Fall is just getting going, and the Letterwinners M Club is spreading "The Victors" all over the country. We hope to see you at a game, a gathering, or an event sometime this year! As always, it's a great day to be a Michigan Wolverine!

Go Blue!

September, 2015

Bobs Blog Sept

Hello Michigan Faithful! It's fall - time to put away the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. Time to get back to school and sports; all things that make us remember our UM days, and envision championships for those who currently wear the uniform. The board and I have been working to create a better and more intentional experience for you in the Letterwinners M Club.

We have a great year planned for members and their families! As always, there will be tailgates, social events, and access to UM golf courses, the Letterwinners M Club discount at the M Den, postgraduate scholarships for Letterwinners, and the annual trip to the Grand Hotel in July with special guest Lloyd Carr. In addition to these continuing opportunities to intersect with your fellow UM Letterwinners, we are really excited about the new for 2015-16! We now offer access to the UM tennis facility. And to finish out the year, look for our updates to M Day in June!

Not only is it a great day to be a Michigan Wolverine, it's a great year to celebrate our shared history!


August, 2015

Bob's Blog July

While vacationing in Florida during the summer isn't ideal, I headed south for a work conference in late July. People from all over the country were there, and when I would mention my affiliation with the University of Michigan, they immediately wanted to talk sports. Football was the main obvious topic, but they also wanted to know about basketball, softball, and swimming, as well as the University in general. The following of Michigan Athletics by so many from everywhere is so amazing to me! I recall one man who was a Purdue Boilermaker, living in Atlanta, but still has an affinity for the Maize and Blue.

I got to thinking, why do so many people feel this affinity? I would like to believe that it is the fact that people are attracted to greatness; to the Leaders and the Best. They crave the inspiration that we represent. They want to be associated with the winning traditions. Yes, we've lost our share to be sure, but as we've all heard from our coaches' quoting Nietzsche, "that which does not kill me makes me stronger." We've grown and risen time and time again. We meet our challenges as opportunities for excellence. Those people who follow Michigan are feeling all that you did while you were a student-athlete here. They want to know The Michigan Way.

I want to salute Bo to Jim Harbaugh; Coach Hutch to Red Berenson; Coach Bottom, Coach Plocki, Coach Beilein, Coaches Henry and Clayton, Coach Rosen and all the rest of our coaches who strive to do it the Michigan way. Just as these coaches carry on traditions, we as student-athletes planted the seeds for the greatness our current student-athletes experience. I believe that our first-class coaches and players complete that circle of connection more so than any other University, and that is why true sport fans from all over the country look to Michigan for their inspiration. They know we have been, and always will be, the Leaders and the Best. And you don't have to go to Florida to know that!

Go Blue!

Bob's Blog July

July, 2015

Once again, M Day proved that it's a great day to be a Wolverine!

First, I'd like to thank everyone that helped make the day wonderful, from the staff at the beautiful University of Michigan Golf Course, to University Catering, and our sponsors. Thanks to those who come out annually to help the event run smoothly. Rick Stites, Frank Legacki, Dave Bliss, Bill and Bea Fox, Don Lessner, Scott Herrala and Gordon York... you're the best! Everyone who pitched in helped support the club and its many causes.

I also want to thank the Letterwinners M Club board for a wonderful year: John Arvai (baseball), Bonnie Kulp (diving), Debbie Williams-Hoak (track & field), Steve Rosen (track & field), Dave Knight (football), Mike Carl (football), Jeanne Hess (volleyball), Jeanette Stawski (rowing), Marc Ramirez (football), Steve Zacharias (football), Dyan Jenkins-Ali (track & field), Sheryl Szady (field hockey/basketball), Brad Haudan (track & field), Andy Matthews (golf), Bridget Venturi Veenema (basketball/softball), Tom Gritter (soccer), and Ryan Bertin (wrestling). Our club is supported by personnel from the Athletic Department, and without Alex Wood and Emily Idoni as our eyes, ears, and hands in Ann Arbor, we couldn't do as much as we do on behalf of the Letterwinners.

We're off to the Grand Hotel this weekend to hobnob with other Wolverines. Stay tuned for a full report complete with pictures.

The 2015-16 M Club schedule will be out soon. Put our events on your calendar and come join in the fun and the rewards. With all the work of our coaching staff and stellar student-athletes, our staff, and the Board, I have a feeling that it's going to be another championship year for the current Wolverines and for the Letterwinners M Club! Let's celebrate our shared love of the Maize and Blue with a great year together! Go Blue!


June, 2015

As she is a junior in high school, my niece recently began her college search. She made a campus visit with my brother (also a UM football alumnus) and sister-in-law to that school up the road, Michigan State University. While traditional thought would encourage otherwise, I applauded her efforts to find the best fit for her education. It is clear to us that MSU provides an excellent college experience, but my brother and his family were quite surprised about the amount of focus on sport throughout the entire visit.

Messaging to all the visiting families included the number of IM teams available to students, how many athletic facilities are available to students, and how their varsity teams did against the University of Michigan. They had everyone cheer Go Green/Go White ... And then brought in their mascot Sparty for pictures after the meeting. All of this was a bit much for my brother's family, who lives in Ann Arbor, but they remained gracious guests while watching Sparty do his thing, even though my brother felt like tackling Sparty to take him out for good.

In discussing the visit later with my brother it became very clear to us that sport plays a huge role in our lives as both players and fans. With our Michigan playing days behind us, we are still watched and judged as Wolverine athletes. It also occurred to us how very special it is to be a Michigan Letterwinner, and how grateful we are for having had the experience. So to all the Letterwinners out there, keep on representing Michigan, and act like people are watching you everywhere you go ... because they are!


May, 2015

One of the prevailing thoughts about intercollegiate athletes is that they are less than stellar in the classroom. As president of the Letterwinners M Club, I am fortunate to interact with current student athletes on a regular basis, and I'm here to tell you that the prevailing thought about student athletes on Michigan's campus is one of academic excellence. As a matter of fact, research shows that the physical training athletes endure on a regular basis actually enhances brain function.

Athletes have the ability to excel in their occupations following graduation. They have teamwork and leadership experience, in addition to a committed work ethic and perseverence which are attractive to employers and graduate schools. Two of the most famous athletes whose names appear on the wall in the M Room with yours, are President Gerald Ford and Astronaut Jack Lousma. They shared the same fields, classrooms, and weight rooms as all of us who make up the membership of the M Club.

A future member of the M Club who is sure to achieve at a high level is this years' Raeder's Raiders Spirit Award winner, Carly Warner from the volleyball team. The Raeder's Raiders Spirit Award was established in 2006 to recognize a varsity athlete for character, teamwork, dedication, perseverance and intensity of athletic performance while coming off the bench. It's named after J. Paul Raeder, a member of the Michigan football team from 1957 to 1961, and a number of his teammates known collectively as "Raeder's Raiders." The award is sponsored by the Raeder family. Carly came off the bench early in the 2014 season to set the team to success, and then returned to the bench after starting setter Lexi Dannemiller returned. With only one start in her career and one of the toughest pre-season schedules in program history, she rose to the challenge.

Coach Rosen said, "Carly set a very young, inexperienced team to a 5-5 record and a win over #19 ranked Duke University. When Lexi returned from her illness, Carly, unselfishly returned to the backup setter role with a great work ethic and commitment to her team. Carly has been a great teammate that has always been willing to fill whatever role is necessary to help her team be successful. Carly would be a great representative of the Raeder's Raiders award."

The M Club presented the Raeder Award during the annual athletic academic awards ceremony in Crisler Arena on April 14. Talk about impressive! There were GPA's to go with the championships! These award winning student-athletes have our future in their hands, and I, for one, am confident in their ability to be "the leaders and the best" out in the real world. Congratulations to all who were honored! GO BLUE!

April, 2015

M Day Musings

They say that friends are family you choose for yourself. By choosing to attend the University of Michigan as a student athlete, you chose to be forever connected to your sport, your alma mater, and your teammates.

M Day is traditionally held on the first Saturday in June, which makes our 2015 date Saturday, June 6 at the University of Michigan Golf Course. While golf outings are traditionally fundraisers, the leadership of the Letterwinners M Club believes we can do both fundraising and camaraderie. Our proceeds have always gone to further our mission of giving back to the University and our student-athletes, but by lowering our registration fees for the outing, we hope to attract you as the leaders and best back for an old-time reunion.

Generations of sport participants have a chance to meet and greet as well. As a football player, I enjoy seeing the younger generations' enthusiasm for their experience, and I love reconnecting with those elders who supported me through my playing days. Their wisdom about life and sport never ceases to entertain and enlighten me.

Think about it. Aren't your teammates some of your best friends? You trained and competed together for a few years back while you were entering adulthood; you may have lived together; you graduated and moved into real life; you were in each other's weddings, and your kids all play together. Don't you often want to just get together for a day of fun? M Day is that chance! Call them now! Get your foursome and come join us as we celebrate yet another M Day!

All sports, men and women, old and young...we want to see you there for the good times.

Go Blue!

Click here to register for M Day

March, 2015

The Go Blue Banner hanging above student-athletes
as they perform at the 2015 Mock Rock Show.
Hail! Hail! To Michigan, the Leaders and the Best!

Those words fed and inspired my time as a Michigan student-athlete. Now that I'm removed from the field, they take on a new meaning. Our collective success as the Letterwinners M Club lies in our ability to serve the mission of success of Michigan athletics. Henry Ford said, "To do more for the world than the world does for you - that is success." As president of the Letterwinners M Club, I choose to give back in time, talent and treasure toward the success of Michigan Athletics along with my fellow club members.

During those four fleeting years of our careers, we gave our time and effort toward competition. We gave friendship, emotion, and camaraderie to our teammates and coaches. Ultimately, we knew we were able to have those experiences because someone else gave before us. We grew because of the Maize and Blue.

The M Club is committed to giving back to Michigan. Our dues and fundraising efforts support several annual financial efforts. We just donated our first $50K of a 5 year, $250K commitment to the Athletic Department for the new clubhouse at the golf course which houses our M Room. Our board of directors approved a $1,000 donation to this year's Mock Rock event where proceeds went to the Ann Arbor YMCA. Also, our $10,000 annual scholarships to Michigan student-athletes seeking postgraduate education have been in place since 2012. The M Club is committed to continuing and growing these scholarship opportunities in perpetuity.

In addition, we give of our time and talent to supporting and mentoring current athletes. We encourage others to attend Michigan with our stories and our lives. We will always give back, because giving back sustains the success of the leaders and the best! Hail!

February, 2015

Our Letterwinners M Club hosts several events each year where members are invited to gather pre-game in support of our current Wolverines. Such was the case in Chicago on February 7 when the M Club hosted a diverse group of alumni, friends and family before the Michigan-Michigan State outdoor hockey game at Soldier Field. I felt honored to be there among these folks, who were celebrating their shared history. I listened to stories from older gentlemen still sporting their letter jackets, to recent basketball alums who were brand-new members of the Club. The Maize and Blue faithful had a great time anticipating the upcoming rivalry.

More so than the competition, though, what flowed around those tables was connection - to each other, to the excellence, to our shared history at the #1 University in the country located in the #2 college town in the country. There were stories of success, of struggle, and of perseverence on and off the field. As we step away and move beyond our years at Michigan, the student-athlete experience takes on an increasing sentiment of awe and gratitude. Our friendships last lifetimes, and our memories span generations of over 100 years of Michigan Athletics. I believe one of the most powerful things that unites all the men and women in the Letterwinners M Club is a shared memory of how awesome it feels to wear the block "M."

By the way, Coach Red Berenson's squad prevailed over the Spartans that night, 4-1. It truly was a great day to be...a Michigan Wolverine.


January, 2015

I grew up playing sports in Ann Arbor, where we always knew who had a UM Football coach for a dad. I was fortunate to play with the Vooletich's, McCarty's, Moeller's, and Hunter's kids. We always heard about Jim Harbaugh, who left Ann Arbor while I was still in junior high. Once I arrived at Michigan, I realized Bo's intentional recruiting of family when the football team set an NCAA record with six sets of brothers: Hammerstein, Balourdos, Schultes, Mandels, Holloways, Mallorys, and Stites. Bo recruited families, not just football players, and coaches' kids were a big part of the football family. Andy Moeller, and Mike and Doug Mallory played at Michigan along with Jim Harbaugh. Jim always showed tremendous leadership spirit that I believe is part of being the son of a coach. His competitive nature followed him everywhere. For example, during a practice when Jim was immune from being tackled, he ran at me, a linebacker, and knocked me over! He knew I couldn't tackle him. We both just laughed. He pushed the edge, but always in a good way. I still smile when I recall that moment.

As a player, Jim was always an extra coach for Bo and the staff. He knew the attitude and morale of the team, while also sharing the coach's view of the game. He knew what was and wasn't working on the field. His childhood experiences started to pay off while playing at Michigan.

As he went into the NFL it was always fun to see Jim get into it with Coach Mike Ditka. He then continued to play in the NFL for 14 years, when most NFL careers average 3 years. I feel like that was a testament to his competitive nature and the nurture of coaching throughout his life.

Once his playing days were over he had more time to come back for the football reunions, where for many years he had a golf outing and ran a foundation to benefit children in the Ann Arbor Area. I remember talking to him about San Diego, when he compared it to a Division II school in Michigan. He also told me then I got stuck in a great town - Ann Arbor. Part of his heart has always been here.

Now, after almost 30 years of Jim playing and coaching around the country, it feels like a homecoming. Last week at the press conference, he mentioned how he's standing on the shoulders of all those head coaches, assistant coaches, and staff that came before him. These men since Fielding H. Yost laid a foundation that is unmatched across the country. Jim understands that foundation of the ages. The tradition of winning, and winning the right way with hard work and integrity, as leaders and best, will continue for years to come. The program is in good hands. Welcome Home Coach Harbaugh, Welcome Home.

December, 2014

It has surely been an interesting year for anyone associated with Michigan Athletics, including those of us who are true to the Letterwinners M Club. While Bo's "Those who stay will be champions" made history, so did golfer Sam Snead, when he said, "The mark of a great player is his ability to come back. The great champions have always come back from defeat." As I reflect on the ups and downs of the year, most of the memories are of the people in my life who have inspired me, and who have come back again and again to create the excellence that is Michigan Athletics.

One who has inspired me greatly is Al Renfrew, who passed away on November 10. Al experienced every level of engagement at Michigan as a player, a coach, and an administrator, leaving championships in his wake as he moved forward. One of the most lasting gifts Al left, however, was not the trophies, but the inspiration of the M Club banner that has become the flagship of the Letterwinners M Club. Together with his wife, Al created the "Go Blue: M Club Supports You" banner in 1962.

Traditions like the banner are the threads that unite generations of champions. While each sport has its own unique traditions, all who proudly have earned the block "M" are united by the excellence that permeates the generations of men and women who have journeyed to Ann Arbor seeking to be Champions of the West. It is the commitment of all the individual athletes, coaches, and administrators who strive for championships that keep us united, inspired, and victorious. GO BLUE!

Welcome and Thank You
By Bob Stites 11/3/2014

Welcome to this, my first blog as president of the Letterwinners M Club. Since the club has made great strides in recent years, I was both honored and excited to be elected to this position. I feel that we're poised to advance the mission of the M Club even further in our connection with the University. So that you might understand my enthusiasm, please take a look at this video.

Over a hundred years of tradition, competition, and University of Michigan Athletes are enshrined within the four walls of the M Room. Whenever I climb the stairs to the room, I am reminded of the history that I, my teammates, and my fellow M Club members all share; the common bond of having had the opportunity to compete for the Maize and Blue.

I've seen families with multi-generational Letterwinners taking pictures in front of the wall where their names are engraved; I've spoken to people remembering a relative who has passed away whose name is engraved there; and each member of our Board of Directors' names are engraved there as we meet to advance the mission of the Letterwinners M Club.

As I consider the M Club, it's exciting to know we're bringing people together for events, recognition, and support. But my favorite part of this work is the emotional connection between people and the University. We foster memories; we help members connect or re-connect with the University, the Athletic Department, or the Alumni Association; we create avenues for alumni athletes to connect with their teams, past and present. The M Club is in the business of igniting pride and fostering joy! That, for me, is a great way to spend my time as president of a great organization!


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