While watching the women's softball team today I started reading about Carol Hutchins and realized that not only was she from Lansing, but she used to play softball and basketball for Michigan State. I started wondering how she feels now and how she stuck around so many years... how did MSU not lure such a wonderful coach back to her original turf? Well, I found an article from The Michigan Daily that answered my questions and made me lover Carol Hutchins even more than I already did. I hope you enjoy as much as I did.
MAKING THE TRADITION YOUR OWN
Carol Hutchins used to be a Spartan. And every year, someone makes sure she doesn’t forget that.
“To this day, the week of the Michigan State game, people ask me who I’m rooting for. And I’m just appalled,” she says, sitting in an office with a giant, stuffed wolverine on top of the bookshelf. “I always tell them, I always root for Michigan State to come in second.
“But I’m just appalled people ask that question. To me, it’s a stupid question.”
She gestures to her navy blue warm-ups.
“Clearly. I’m blue. What part of me looks green?”
It’s a dumb question because it would be like asking if Bo Schembechler had still cheered for Miami (Ohio) over Michigan. Hutchins, a two-sport Michigan State student-athlete, has invested 26 years building a program from the ground up in Ann Arbor. It doesn’t matter if you come here from the outside, she says. The real issue is whether you take ownership of the tradition.
And she uses a example from East Lansing to prove that point.
“Years ago, Nick Saban was the football coach up there,” she says, referring to the nomadic coach who, in the past 10 years, has coached at Michigan State, Louisiana State, the NFL’s Miami Dolphins and Alabama. “And I used to say to my former colleagues and friends, that’s the difference between a Michigan Man. Because Lloyd Carr would never bolt to go to some other university, because he’s at the greatest university on the planet.
“The people who are at Michigan believe that Michigan’s the place to be, and embrace that and live it.”
Ron Kramer says that the Wolverine tradition is different than other schools, simply because it has been canonized more than any other. And Hutchins does her part to make sure her Michigan Women realize they are stepping stones in that Michigan legacy.
She talks to her freshmen at the beginning of each year about the honor of wearing the block ‘M’. She requires new team members to write a research paper about the Michigan softball players who wore their jersey number before them.
And if her athletes won’t cherish the importance of the tradition, Hutchins eventually gives them an ultimatum. You don’t just get to wear the block ‘M.’ You’re not entitled to it just because you worked hard in high school.
For those reasons — even with the 2005 National Championship on her coaching résumé — her favorite story from her time in Ann Arbor isn’t during a game.
It was after Stephanie Bercaw hit a two-run, game-winning homer to push Michigan into that year’s Women’s College World Series finals.
“Everybody thinks all these athletes are on full rides, but this kid was on like, not very much, and out-of-state tuition is enormous,” Hutchins says of the Wooster, Ohio native. “But … she came here and hit a home run that put us into the national finals. And on the podium at this press conference, they asked her, ‘Is this the greatest moment of your life?’
“And she said, ‘No. The day I got to sign a scholarship to go to Michigan was the greatest day of my life.’ ”
And congrats to UM pounding Purdue today!