My Michigan Wolverines are headed to the Final Four for the first time in twenty years. Point guard Trey Burke is one of college basketball’s most dominant players. Needless to say, it is a pretty good time to be a Maize and Blue fan.
Before you Michigan haters stop reading, let me issue a spoiler alert. THE NEXT 55O WORDS WILL NOT BE DEDICATED TO LAYING ON THE MICHIGAN LOVE. I promise. This is a tale about my journey as a fan. I encourage you to come along for the ride because if you are a fan of [INSERT YOUR SCHOOL HERE], I think you will be able to relate. Here are my three stages of alumni fandom:
Stage I: Bleeding Maize and Blue
Like so many students, my allegiance was established the moment I stepped onto campus. I was sold on the tradition and the passionate fan base. As a student-athlete, those feelings were only intensified. I was more than a fan, I was a Michigan Wolverine. I truly believed we were “the leaders and the best,” as our fight song declared. I carried that pride with me across the stage as I accepted my diploma.
Stage II: Go Blue…Kind of
Shortly after graduating and moving to Chicago (home to more Big Ten alumni than any other city), I entered Stage II of my fandom. Being surrounded by so many other college graduates, I learned very quickly that there are many other schools that are pretty damn fantastic and produce some exceptional grads. While I was still proud of my Michigan roots, I also began to evolve into a more critical fan. Maybe with age comes wisdom, or maybe my priorities in life were simply shifting, but with Michigan’s rotating carousel of coaches and players, sanctions, and the big business of college athletics rearing its ugly head, it became a huge challenge to be a faithful, unconditional fan.
Stage III: My Jersey Still Fits
My last stage of my Michigan alumni fandom, and the stage in which I currently reside, evolved somewhat unexpectedly, but it has been the most rewarding. As Supervising Producer at TeamWorks Media, I have been afforded the opportunity to return to my alma mater to discover some outstanding University of Michigan stories and share them with audiences. These are not stories of touchdowns and championships. These are stories of inspiration, innovation, and difference makers.. For a recent television series, BTN LiveBig, which showcases the tremendous work being done throughout the Big Ten community, I had the privilege to produce two Michigan features. One focused on an outreach program, The Michigan Engineering Zone (The MEZ), which sits in the heart of Detroit and brings Michigan Engineering students together with Detroit Public High School students, encouraging them to become involved in robotics.
The other featured a research facility, the International Center for Automotive Medicine (ICAM) that is unlike any other in the world. It brings medical specialists, engineers, and automotive manufacturers together to improve automotive safety and to save lives.
It is through stories like these that pride for my university has returned. I am proud to wear the Block M. Even more than sports victories (which I’ll still celebrate – don’t get me wrong!), these stories truly have a positive impact on the world and are worth cheering. They are consistent. They are reliable. They won’t disappoint or frustrate because in the end, everybody wins, which may sound cliché, but it’s true. So maybe I lied, maybe there was a lot of Michigan love in this post, but can you blame me?
Have you had any “proud to be an alumnus/alumna” epiphanies lately? I’d love to hear about them, please share in the comments below.