Growing up, I was not a Michigan fan. I lived in the Chicago suburbs, and I had two favorite college teams: The University of Colorado for football and The University of North Carolina for basketball. I rooted for Colorado because they were my mom's alma mater, while I rooted for UNC because that was where Michael Jordan went, and when you're a kid from Chicago, that's the only reason you need.
The first time I ever watched a Michigan game that I remember was the 1993 basketball championship game, because Michigan was playing UNC. At the time, I was obviously pleased with the outcome of that game.
My life changed dramatically the weekend of September 24th, 1994, when I was 12 years old. The 25th was the day that my dad remarried. Since my stepmom and her family was from Michigan, we all gathered around the television to watch Michigan play Colorado on the 24th. The room's members consisted entirely of Michigan alums and/or season ticketholders with the exception of myself and my dad - my stepmom to be, my stepsister to be, my stepsister's then boyfriend now husband, my stepmom's best friend & husband, and other various relatives and friends from Michigan.
Me being the obnoxious 12 year old that I was, I was rooting on Colorado partly out of loyalty to my mom's alma mater and partly out of wanting to be the contrarian in the room. So when Kordell Stewart heaved a prayer at the buzzer, I went bananas when it connected and proceeded to rub it in everyone's faces the entire rest of the evening.
My new stepfamily realized they didn't want to have someone taunting them every time Michigan suffered a loss in the future, so they promptly began my indoctrination into all things Michigan the following season. I was brought to Ann Arbor for the first of many games before I got to college. It was the 1995 game vs Minnesota where UM won by 35 points. I got to experience tailgating on the Golf Course before and after the game, as well as dinner at Good Time Charley's, on top of my first time inside the Big House. Going to a game annually in Ann Arbor became a tradition, as did going to the games in Chicago every time UM came to play Northwestern.
Once I was in high school and had to start applying to colleges, Michigan was at the top of my list of preferred destinations. I got in to Michigan as well as my safety school of Illinois and Michigan was my clear favorite between the two. My dad, knowing the massive out of state tuition bill that would be coming compared to IL (at the time almost a 90k difference for 4 years), tried to bribe me into going to U of I instead by offering me a new car.
My dad only offered me a new Saturn. As I already was driving a gently used Camry, I turned him down unless he was willing to escalate his offer to a BMW 3 series or a Honda S2000. He declined that, so I was Ann Arbor bound in the fall of 2000.
I've been bleeding Maize & Blue for 17 years now, and I now look forward to indoctrinating my children in all things U of M. The nice thing is I'll be able to get my kids pro-Michigan from birth, as opposed to their teenage years, so they won't have any years missing from their lives as Michigan fans.
Thanks for reading, I just wanted to share as today is the anniversary of a lifechanging day for me.