August 16, 2013
By Dave Brandon | Courtesy MGoBlue.com, Brandon’s Blog
The official introduction of Michigan football’s Team 134 took place Sunday (Aug. 11) as the Michigan Athletic Department hosted the annual Youth Day at Michigan Stadium.
It’s a unique day for the student-athletes and our fans. The interaction that takes place serves as a benefit to both the student-athletes and the young fans.
Players learn to play when they’re young, growing up through high school and then into college. Fans also learn to appreciate the game when they are young, following their favorite team and their favorite player.
For those who love college football, Youth Day is an affirmation of the subtleties of the sport.
It is a day for U-M fans to initiate or continue their special feeling for the Maize and Blue. It is an opportunity for children to meet the faces behind the facemasks of the winged helmet. It is a day for memories to be made.
For the student-athletes, it is a day to relax and get that warm feeling parents (and grandparents too!) get when they see a smile on a face of youngster. These “Goliaths of the Gridiron” get to enjoy a grin that lasts a little bit longer than usual. They get to see the expression of gratitude as the young fans asks a question or receive an autograph.
When the smile is returned, a bond develops and a memory that can last a lifetime can be created.
These are the moments that help create those lifelong Michigan fans.
Youth Day is not only about autographs and fans. It is a learning experience for our student-athletes. It gives them an idea of the power of their celebrity status and gives them an idea of the mark they can leave in life.
This is the responsibility that rests in their hands. It can be a heady proposition for a student-athlete to face this fact, but it is also an opportunity for these student-athletes to grow as individuals.
It allows each one to understand that we all bear the responsibility of being a role model every time we meet someone, and it is part of the responsibility we carry as adults.
In all sports, the athlete has the responsibility to his or her team to be prepared mentally and physically and to be part of something bigger.
Afternoons like Youth Day allow those same student-athletes to see how they can have an even larger impact because of their team and notoriety. They have the power to leave a positive mark on a Michigan fan, and when they graduate, they will then have the responsibility to initiate positive change in our culture.
Every one of us can learn from Youth Day too. Just take a look at the smiles on those young faces and understand a young student-athlete made that impact. And then think, we have the power as adults to be role models every day and make the impact on someone’s life, the same way Team 134 did for the young fans at Youth Day.