We love Rutgers. Why? Lots of reasons, personal, professional, emotional. But the people we play, their fans, love their schools, too. Why? Each week we’ll tell their story. Today with go with this week’s opponent, the University of Michigan. Doing the honors is a friend of mine, Fred Yawger, a swimmer while at UM. Instead of addressing each of the questions I posed, Fred took the liberty of waxing poetic about his alma mater.
Ann Arbor and the university are special for more reasons than I can list, so I will hit the highlights or more important, the ones I can remember. The 70's was a special time to be in college, especially a community as diverse as Ann Arbor. People would come from all over the world so you have a cultural diversity like no other. I have friends from South America, Canada, Great Britain, Scotland, Australia, Russia and just about every state in the union. A lot of these aquaintences were athletic in nature but others were the result of normal dorm life. (Athletes and students lived together as there were no athletic dorms). The frequency and choice of guest speakers (adjunct professors) was constantly changing so the academic content was always fresh. The mission was to analyze and question rather than accept and forget.
Being on your own was the opportunity I most cherished. Remember Boone’s Farm Wine? Strohs Beer? Pop instead of soda and others. Going to The Pretzel Bell and listening to Bob Seger and other artists was common place; looking back....how good is that?
Games in the Big Ten, regardless of the sport were always well attended and as an athlete, we supported each other. It was not unusual to look in the stands and see football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, wrestlers, track and field, hockey players cheering for you. The ‘76 Olympics was a goal for a lot of us across many sports representing the USA and other countries. (Dual citizenship was very common).
Ohio State and Michigan State are the rivals that bring out the best in you. It is the epitome of the love/hate relationship. In four years of varsity swimming, we never lost to either. The weather was great in the fall and the spring but the winter was awful. I lost the use of my car every winter for six weeks; either I couldn't find it under the snow or it was so cold that it wouldn't start even if I shoveled it out.
I was privileged to spend quality time with some of the world’s greatest coaches, athletes, politicians, astronauts, military and academic minds of that era. The Midwest is a great place to go to school and Ann Arbor is in every sense, a true college town. Detroit was nearby and had everything you could ask for in the big city. Unfortunately, that has changed in my lifetime.
The alumni is strong and are very proud of such. I wish everyone could have some of the experiences that I was lucky enough to have.
I truly want to thank Fred for those words. It is very clear why UM means so much to him and so many others. I think I’m going to break out the DVD of The Big Chill.
Michigan at a glance
Founding & Location: Founded in 1817 as the “Catholepistemiad of Detroit,” the University of Michigan was the first public university in the Northwest Territories. In 1821 the name changed to the University of Michigan, and it moved to Ann Arbor in 1837.
Enrollment: 43,625: 28,312 undergraduate, 15,313 graduate. Students come from all 50 states and 118 countries
Academics: 19 schools and colleges and 265+ degree programs
Athletics: 29 varsity teams with more than 50 National championships in 12 sports