I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
This happens often enough, but there was yet another mini-spat on the board about non-revenue sports and their worth. I may be biased. I love all sports. I've never met an athletic game I didn't fall in love with at one point or another. As a student at UM some friends took me to a volleyball game and I fell in love with volleyball and found myself hitting Elbel as often as possible to pay. Playing innertube waterpolo made me realize what a fun sport that was and subsequently I found myself watching Michigan v. Indiana, not on the Big Ten Network, but in Canham Natatorium.
There's something about those teams, those sports, that reminds me of some the best times of my life - playing high school baseball with my friends, winning a regional, then a state quarterfinal, only to lose in heartbreaking fashion one game later. The pure elation of victory and the pure agony of defeat. There's something pure about non-revenue sports at Michigan. It takes a dedication that I like to think I would have had, but don't know if I would have.
Alex Hunt and Stu Douglass were two of my favorite Michigan Men and Women while I was a student there. They embody this spirit. For those of you who don't feel this way about the Michigan Men and Women who wear the maize and blue in soccer, softball, baseball, wrestling, gymnastics, field hockey, etc., I challenge you to give them a shot. I truly think you're missing out. You're entitled to your opinion, but I highly suggest you read Alex and Stu's journey and maybe you'll see the quality person that UM and UM athletics can produce.
“He wanted to prove to himself and to the world that he could play with the best athletes in the country. He didn’t want anybody to ever say, ‘He was OK at Harvard.’ He would have rather failed at the Big Ten than just be OK at Harvard.”– Stuart’s father, Matt Douglass
Yes, it's been a long time but there's sufficient news to be shared to warrant another in this occasional series.
Let's begin with Men's Soccer where super-frosh Soony Saad is Michigan's first All-American since Michael Holody in 2008. Saad was named a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) 2nd Team All-American. Saad was also named to the All-Great Lakes region 1st team while senior Justin Meram was named to its 2nd team.
Justin Meram (L) and Soony Saad (R)
Saad, who finished second in the nation in goals with 19, broke U-M's seven-year-old single-season goals record and has also set new single-season records in points with 43 and shots with 143. Saad's 19 goals also led all freshmen nationally, and he is the only freshman to be ranked in the top five nationally in points and goals. He was also named TopDrawerSoccer.com Rookie of Year as well as All-Big Ten first team, Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Offensive Player of the Big Ten Tournament.
Meram closed his senior season on a nine-game scoring streak, the longest in program history, and scored U-M's lone goal in the College Cup semifinals against eventual national champion Akron. Meram played and started in 23 games, tallying 42 points on 17 goals and a team-leading eight assists. [His] 42 points, 17 goals and 104 shots in 2010 each rank second best in a single season all-time.
Meram is a two-time All-Big Ten second team selection and has earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week this season to go along with TopDrawerSoccer.com National Team of the Week and College Soccer News Player of the Week honors. He will be competing at the 2011 adidas MLS Player Combine, held Jan. 8-12 at Central Broward Regional Park in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Meram becomes the seventh Michigan player to participate in the MLS pre-draft combine and is looking to become U-M's fifth MLSuperDraft selection.
Soony Saad was also selected by USA U-20 National Team head coach Thomas Rongen as one of 24 players for its Dec 12-19 training camp now ongoing in Sunrise, Florida. This training camp will include friendlies against Canada on Dec 16 and Dec 18. Saad is one of nine players making his first appearance in a USMNT U-20 camp.
Senior setter Lexi Zimmerman (2nd team) and junior outside hitter Alex Hunt (third team) of the volleyball team were both named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) 2010 All-America team. This is Zimmerman's third straight All-American honor and Hunt's first.
Zimmerman completes her career as the only Wolverine to earn three All-America awards, grabbing a second team laurel in 2008 and a first team distinction in 2009 before this year's selection to the second team. She led the Wolverines in assists (10.86) for the fourth straight season, ending her career as Michigan's all-time leader with 5,903, the sixth-best mark in Big Ten history. Zimmerman, the program leader in appearances at 140, also picked up All-Big Ten honors this season for the third consecutive year.
Hunt nabbed a spot on the third team for her first All-America award as a Wolverine. She led U-M and the conference in points (5.04) and kills (4.41). She is the only Big Ten player to average more than five points per set, using 503 kills, 45 service aces and 46 total blocks for 574.5 points. Hunt recorded 12 matches with at least 20 kills, including a 28-kill performance in a 3-2 win over No. 14 Minnesota on Sept. 25.
The duo's selection to the All-America team marks the second consecutive season that two Wolverines have earned national recognition. In 2009, outside hitter Juliana Paz (2008-09) earned third team honors in addition to Zimmerman's first team selection.
2011 PRESEASON COACHES POLL RANKINGS – Men
2011 PRESEASON COACHES POLL RANKINGS – Women
3. Ohio State
4. Penn State
3. Penn State
T6. Michigan State
T6. Ohio State
[The defending NCAA champion men's gymnastics team returns] the 2010 Big Ten and NCAA all-around champion, senior Chris Cameron, and a pair of 2010 All-Americans, seniors Thomas Kelley and Ian Makowske. Leading the 11 member freshman class, [is] Sam Mikulak, national champion at the 2010 USA Gymnastics Championships.
The four-time defending Big Ten champion [women's gymnastics team returns] nine letterwinners, five All-Americans and three Big Ten champions to a program with more Big Ten team titles (18) than any other conference women's program in any sport. [Five-time All-America senior Kylee Botterman], fifth-year senior Sarah Curtis, fifth-year senior Jordan Sexton and senior Trish Wilson captain a roster of gymnasts that have never lost at a Big Ten Championships. All-Big Ten first team honorees Botterman and Curtis join defending Big Ten vault champion [and All-America sophomore Natalie Beilstein] looking to make a run at a 19th Big Ten title.
L, 0-3 (22-25, 17-25, 16,25)
The volleyball team was swept in the opening round of the NCAA tournament last night at the hands of #11 Washington. The #23 Wolverines were missing Alex Hunt due to an injury, and adding more youth to an already young lineup didn't help Michigan's cause.
It's August and that means the return of my favorite fall sport. That's right, volleyball. While I haven't quite gotten to my season preview (should be one for volleyball and the soccers coming if next week goes as planned), stories are already hitting the news wire.
Today, the Big Ten released the Preseason Conference Poll and Preseason All Big Ten teams. Michigan, coming off a 27-10 regular season and #9 final national ranking, has been picked to finish 5th in the Big Ten (pdf) behind perennial favorite Penn State, Illinois, Minnesota, and Ohio State. This is pretty much on par with the final standings last year, where Michigan finished tied with Ohio State in 4th place.
Coach Rosen via MGoBlue:
"Preseason polls do not mean much," 12th-year head coach Mark Rosen said. "The conference is good enough right now that one through 11 is up for grabs. I really think that the Big Ten is the deepest it has ever been this year. We have a lot of work to do to live up to that finish, but I think that our team is up for it."
Along with the standings, Michigan also had two players named to the Preseason All Big Ten Team. Senior setter Lexi Zimmerman makes her 3rd consecutive Preseason All Big Ten Team, this time as a unanimous pick.
Joining Zimmerman on the Preseason All Big Ten Team is junior left side hitter Alex Hunt. Hunt makes her first appearance on the Preseason Team, and looks to be Michigan's biggest returning weapon after the graduation of Juliana Paz and Veronica Rood.
(Photos via MGoBlue)