Fenwick Water Polo 1989

I have photo of this team tucked away in my office to remind myself of this team, what we accomplished, and what is possible. When you believe there are no limits and when you push past them, you will be a champion.

Honored to be a part of Fenwick’s tradition of excellence.

Godspeed Demetrius Calip

Demetrius Calip UM Men's Basketball, 1989
Demetrius Calip UM Men’s Basketball, 1989

Demetrius Calip helped the University of Michigan claim, to date, its only NCAA men’s basketball championship, courtesy of an 80-79 overtime victory over Seton Hall in April 1989, at the Kingdome in Seattle. He was a key contributor. The improbable Wolverine run took on the theme, “Shock the world.”

My first day on campus in Ann Arbor was the fall of 1990. I would meet and compete with Demetrius Calip that day. I had just been dropped off and moved into my converted triple, a double room with 3 beds, in the South Quad dormitory.

I had the typical dynamic range of emotions: freedom, excitement, loss as I welcomed the unknown of college life. Of the three students in my room, I was the first to move in and not many others were settled on my floor. A high school classmate, Dave, was seven floors up also in South Quad. He had a basketball and one of his two roommates. We went down to the court just north of South Quad (which no longer exists) to shoot some hoops. We were into our third or forth game of H-O-R-S-E when most of the men’s basketball team showed up. I truly expected to be told to move along. That would have been OK with me. I had stopped playing competitive basketball in second grade and was not good enough to make my junior high team. I had played some pickup games in high school during gym nights. I did not consider myself basketball player.

Demetrius Calip came over and I thought, here it comes. Surprisingly he asked if we wanted to run with them as they were two guys short. So here I was talking to the guy who won the NCAA’s just over a year ago and I had been on campus about two hours. This was so cool. So Dave and I ran with the basketball team. Here I am playing guard along with Demetrius Calip, NCAA Champion.

I was overmatched and knew it. I did know that I was not expected to do much. Much of my defense was against Jason Bossard. Like me he was also a freshman. Unlike me, he was named “Mr. Michigan” as the top high school player for the year. He could rain threes from just about anywhere. He was the top recruit in the year prior to the Fab 5. The only advantage I had was that I really did not know what I should be doing. In previous pickup games, I learned foul outside to make it harder for the other guys to score. That was all that was racing through my mind. Bossard was also 6’4” and I was 5’8”, my hands and feet were quick enough, however. I was able to steal the ball (by uncalled fouling naturally) more than once. Every time I got the ball, my plan was elbows up, find Demetrius. Elbows up, find Demetrius.

Now the third time, Bossard drove on me, I did really foul him and he was not happy. The team was getting on him a bit. I just stayed in my zone, elbows up, find Demetrius. After the foul, they scored and Demetrius took the ball up court. He passed to me, and quickly, I passed back. I was wide open. No one covering. Demetrius passes the ball back to me. The other team was onto me, I would not shoot. Out of nowhere Bossard comes off the double team, gets right in my face, nose-to-nose, and barks, “Put it up little white boy!”

I raised the ball over my head, three-point range certainly, and let it fly. As the ball left my fingertips, at that moment I knew that this was the greatest basketball shot I would ever make. The spin, the rotation all of it, first day on campus, leaving family, pickup game with the team, leaving friends, Demetrius passing and letting me have the shot, all of it, as the ball rotated and floated and finally swished through the net. There was a roar from the crowd that had gathered. I had not noticed any of them before that. A few minutes later, I was on fumes and left them game. Someone from the crowd, an actual basketball player took over. Bossard and I met again senior year and had a good laugh.

I will never forget how Demetrius Calip made me feel on that first day on campus. It is a true testament to his character, and he was truly a Michigan Man. Godspeed.

Coach Max

For the last eleven years, I have been known as Coach Max. It is bittersweet that those days of parenthood are coming to a close. Eleven seasons of Cross Country and ten of baseball and girls softball. What a ride.

As your children develop and start to compete in athletics, it is common to playback and remember your failures and successes. There are only two rules that will lead to a lifetime of success in athletics and life, “Have fun and do your best.”

What is a Michigan Man?

What is a Michigan Man?

I learned a little about that unexpectedly from the man himself, Bo Schembechler over 30 years ago. I was in my sophomore year and in need of a hair cut. My barber at the time was Jerry Erickson at the Coach and 4 Barber Shop in Ann Arbor on State Street. I first went there because it was close to my freshman dorm, I later learned that Jerry was the barber of Michigan’s best and he never charged much.

This one day, I was waiting for awhile and longer than usual, but the conversation was good. Bo, recently retired from coaching and still UM athletic director and president of the Detroit Tigers at that point, had just fired broadcasting legend Ernie Harwell. Bo’s house had been egged. It was on ESPN and was the talk all over campus. It was a barbershop full of righteous sermons about this pure sacrilege. I was about to be next when an old man in a suit bounced through the shop door and literally jumped in the the bathroom in back. Jerry, the barber, looked at me and said, “Mind the wait, will you?” At first I was annoyed, but I let it go. Turns out that old man was Bo. Here he was not some figurine on a faraway sideline. The man and legend in the flesh right in front of me. He just canned the greatest living announcer in the great game of baseball and jumped the line at the barber shop. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Bo vented to Jerry that he was upset about the eggs. The shop agreed that it was unacceptable. I chimed in. It was clear that asking why the eggs happened was a non-starter, so I opened with how baseball broadcasters were different that other broadcasters. They paint a picture and connect with audiences. In those Detroit summers, the velvety smooth voice of Harwell made the terrible Tigers teams interesting night after night. He was not the rah-rah party animal I grew up with in Harry Carey. He was the bridge to the first great baseball broadcasters, like Red Barber. Bo listened and showed respect for my opinions in away that I never expected. I always have appreciated the respect shown and the confidence it gave me in that brief moment.

Go Blue!