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April 19, 1994 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-04-19

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18 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 19, 1994

Some 'M' heroes often get overlooked

Everybody needs a hero.
Young and old alike, everyone needs somebody to look up to.
Like a lot of little kids, the idols of my youth were sports figures - people
. like Kirk Gibson and Carl Lewis, and even Larry Bird. Others came from the
college ranks. I worshiped Magic Johnson running the offense in East Lansing,
and Anthony Carter decked out in his Maize and Blue No. I jersey.
I know without a doubt that today's little kids find their heroes the same
way I did. They pick the athletes that most impress them.
That bothers me.
It bothers me not because I would have them pick their heroes any other
way; it bothers me because I see a disturbing trend in Michigan athletics.
Recently, the privileged few that are supposed to be cherished in the hearts
of kids around the state and even the country, seem to be the same few that are
tarnishing the reputation of this school.
It's not the kids that are at risk - they'll find other heroes - but the future
of Michigan athletics. Does this university truly have student-athletes? Or
does it foster a class of privileged, debt-free jocks who think themselves above
the laws of the state and the regulations of this institution?
Why are basketball players stealing beer? Why is a former football player
shooting at the police? Why is the head coach of the hockey team urinating on
a library and driving drunk?
True, they're only human; no one can ask them to be perfect. People screw
up. The problem in Ann Arbor is that violations of the law by members of
Michigan's athletic department seem to be all too common this year.
They aren't isolated incidents. They are part of a pattern that has developed
- a pattern that warrants a sigh of relief when a week goes by without an arrest.
The run-ins with the law smear the hard-earned reputation of this university
and of its athletes. Worse, they reinforce stereotypes of all college athletes.
That would bother me if I were a law-abiding member of the teams
involved. Despite the other players' wishes, when an athlete does something
that can only be labeled dumb, that label also applies to the team.
So the majority of Michigan athletes who toil in relative obscurity - law-
abiding obscurity - are overshadowed by the few (and I emphasize that it is
only afew) who cannot find it in themselves to follow the laws.
With that in mind, I offer some examples of real heroes in Michigan
athletics. These are people who rarely get the headlines, but if I had kids, these
are the people I would have them look up to.
I want my kids to admire Shimmy Gray. Captain of the women's basketball

team, Gray's never had it easy at Michigan. In the three years she played hoops
here, her teams won only four Big Ten contests. This year, with Gray as
captain, the Wolverines didn't win a single conference matchup.
The press wasn't exactly nice to the graduating senior on a team of
freshman. The Daily wasn't exactly complimentary of her. Come to think of
it, I was among her harshest critics.
Through all the press harassment and all the injuries, Shimmy never once
blamed the rest of the team. She never once whined that it wasn't her fault. She
was never once rude to the press.
A couple of weeks ago, she even wrote a letter to the Daily thanking the fans,
cheerleaders and band that stuck with the team through their hellish season.
The attendance at her home games averaged less than a thousand.
It comes down to this - Shimmy has class. Shimmy doesn't have a cushy
multimillion-dollar job after graduation. She just has class.
Another athlete with a clean record and no recognition? It could be any one
of hundreds at Michigan. How about Evan Feldman?
A little-used sophomore in a gymnastics program that was to be cut after
this year, Feldman came from New York to what he thought was a solid
tradition. Instead he found his program was being replaced in varsity status by
women's soccer. Even before its demise, Feldman only had the chance to
compete twice, never at home.
Like Shimmy, he never once whined. He just worked hard and campaigned
to keep the program.
Like hundreds of other athletes, he toiled ceaselessly in the NCAA's
premier sports program, yet never received an ounce of recognition.
He was never charged, though. Like Shimmy, Evan has class.
And now his program has received a reprieve. There will be a men's
gymnastics team next year, and maybe Feldman will get his day in the sun.
Maybe there is justice in the world.
Gray and Feldman have class, and they are not alone. They and hundreds
of other athletes toil in anonymity. They don't ask for your sympathy or your
recognition. They only want to compete.
It is their example that all Michigan athletes would do well to heed. Like
it or not, being an athlete here brings a certain responsibility. It is not a burden
above and beyond that of an ordinary student - it is exactly the burden of
being an ordinary student: Follow the rules of the university. Follow the laws
of the city, the state and the country. Follow the course of study you choose.
Most importantly, follow the example of Shimmy Gray and Evan Feldman
and hundreds of other faceless competitors. Have a little class.
Be a hero to little kids everywhere.


1994 women's basketball captain Shimmy Gray is one of the many silent
heroes at Michigan. The spirited senior led a group of six underclassmen.

Women tumblers head to NCAA Championships with high expectations


March Madness may be only a
memory to college sports fans, but for
the Michigan women's gymnastics
team, thoughts of a championship still
fill its mind.
Thursday in Salt Lake City, Michi-
gan (27-1) begins competition in the
NCAA National Championships, hop-
ing to fulfill its ultimate goal of join-

ing the elite Super Six.
Almost all season, the Wolverines
ranked among the top five in the coun-
try. As a result of a third-place finish
at the Central Regional Champion-
ships, Michigan enters this meet as
the No. 6 seed.
"We didn't have the most ideal
regional meet. We certainly can't be
disappointed with a sixth seed,"
Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. "If

we don't do any better than ninth, it's
still better than we've ever done. We
have nothing to lose and everything
to gain."
Last season, the Wolverines en-
tered the NCAA meet seeded 11 th
and finished ninth, much to their de-
"Last year, we were sparked,"
Wendy Marshall said. "It was the best
meet we ever had. If we can do the

same thing this year, and we're twice
as good as we were last year, that
should do it."
Michigan must demonstrate its
improved skills in ultimate fashion if
it wishes to upset top-seeded Ala-
The Crimson Tide teetered during
the latter half of the season between a
No. 3 and a No. 4 ranking. The Wol-
verines ended the season ranked

1 7

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O 1994 Canon U.S.A., Inc.

fourth, after having made school his-
tory by placing in the top three.
The regional results determined
who would be seeded where during
this week's culmination. The top fin-
ishers in each of the six regions were
all guaranteed a bid, and the seven
highest scores thereafter completed
the pool of thirteen teams.
Having scored a 193.6 in the re-
gional meet, Michigan finished be-
hind No. 3 seed Louisiana State, who
notched a 194.4, and No. 1 Alabama,
who enters this week's finals with a
"I don't think we're going to beat
an Alabama or a Georgia unless they
open the door for us," Plocki said. "If
they hit in the way that they're ca-
pable of hitting, they're going to be
one and two, and I don't know in what
order. But, we are capable of beating
or hanging in there with anybody
There are two sessions when the
competition begins Thursday - the
afternoon for the even seeds and the
evening for the odd seeds. The team
results will determine who advances
to the Super Six venue Friday, whereas
the individual gymnasts compete Sat-

urday for personal strides.
"Individually, that final (Saturday)
is something we don't even think about
until we get to it," Plocki said. "If
anything it's harder for those indi-
viduals to get up for that last day of
competition, because hopefully they
will have already competed two days
in a row."
Thursday's scores determine the
all-around champion, because it is the
only guaranteed time that every gym-
nast will perform. Kentucky's Jenny
Hanson will probably be Beth 0
Wymer's toughest obstacle to over-
come. Hanson, who notched the best
qualifying score in any region, won
last year's all-around title.
"If I don't do well at Nationals, at
least I can be happy knowing I was the
top seed the whole season," Wymer
said. "As far as I'm concerned, I'm
satisfied. If I make the event finals, I
figure it's the last meet of the season
and I'm going to have to dig down i
deep. I think I'll pull it out somehow."
After a season filled with indi-
vidual and team bests, the Wolver-
ines are prepared for the meet. A
See WOMEN, Page 21






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