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April 04, 1994 - Image 14

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

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6 - The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, April 4, 1994

Continued from page 1
season. At6 feet 4,245 pounds, Dudlar
in his championship seasons at Brother
RiceHigh School in Birmingham, Mich.,
with teammates like Boston College All-
American tight end Pete Mitchell.
Yet his list of lacrosse accomplish-
mentspractically overshadows his feats in
In Dudlar's three years on the varsity
squad, he helped the team to three straight
state championships and a record of 66-5.
Hissenior year, BrotherRicealso won the
Midwest Championship, after he was
named most valuable player in the state
tournament. Andduring his final twoyears
of high school, he was named to the All-
State and All-Midwest teams.
So a guy who decided to try a new
sport his freshman year of high school
modestly collected a barrage of titles.
"Gannon is deserving of any playing
time he gets," junior attackman Tony
DiGiovanni said. "He's probably the best
familiar with Dudlar's skill and ability
because the two played each other in high

school. He also could be head recruiting
coach for Michigan, having actively pur-
sued Dudlar and Brother Rice teammate
Steve Morrison to play lacrosse this sea-
son. (Morrison still has one year of eligi-
bility for football).
Coincidentally, three starting
defensemen did not return this season.
Once Dudlarrediscovered hisdominating
defensive will, he becameapivotal link to
the team's success and its current 7-1
ingon the conscience ofthe lacrosse team,
is it ready for its Rose Bowl equivalent?
"We realize we're a club team and
we're not overly obsessive with winning
and going crazy,"Dudlar said. "There's a
good balance of having fun and taking it
seriously on the team."
"You could tell he was rusty, but the
skills werethere,"coach DiGiovanni said.
"He's one of my hardest workers. He's
one of a half-dozen (on the Michigan
squad) who could be starting for a varsity
Clearly whatbroughtDudlartoMichi-
gan was its football program, not the
respectable lacrosse club. But don't as-
sume lacrosse was all but forgotten when
he committed to Michigan.

"(Lacrosse) was something I always
knew I wanted to do when I stopped
playing football here."
Dudlar facilitated the transition be-
tween the two sports, playing lacrosse
summer leagues. He believes the rewards
from lacrosse come from within, espe-
cially because lacrosse attracts less exter-
nal praise.
It is doubtful anyone would fault him,
though, if he admitted the transformation
was not without a hitch. Mov,;;g from a
major revenue sport to a club sport was "a
nightmare," he admitted in jest.
"There's no comparison. In football,
everything is first-class. You get the best
of everything. Then you come to club
lacrosse. You'repaying forexpenses. (But)
that's nbt the most important (factor).
"The most important thing is playing
the game. It's just being with a bunch of
guys who want to do the same thing that
you're doing - the camaraderie."
One of teammate Tony DiGiovanni's
first memories of Dudlar in high school
describes Gannon as an unferocious op-
In fact,duringthisyear'sfootballgame
As the game progressed, he waited pa-
tiently on the sidelines, giving pointers to
his replacement, formerWolverine Shawn
Collins. While this enraged his father-a
former Arizona State football player -
Gannon simply was simply illustrating his
roles as a team player.
"(When Iplayed), there was noway in
hell I'd give another guy playing my
position any tricks of the trade," his father
Frank Dudlar then went on to recant
theirconfrontation afterGannon'scharac-
teristic advice session. "He says to me,
'Father, how would I feel if Shawn is
doing something wrong, I see it, I can
correct it...If I didn't do it and on that play
Michigan lostthegameby menot wanting
to share that knowledge?"'
And friends refer to this sensitive man
as Thor? While only fitting to a man who
could bench press 375 pounds when he
arrived in Ann Arbor back in 1990, the
nickname arouses suspicion.
Two penalties in eight years of foot-
Growing up, Gannon wasembarrassed
by the nickname (also his middle name),
afraid that other kids would tease him
because of his "dork(ier) pear shape."
"In the neighborhood, I was probably

one of the younger kids and I was usually
the worst out of all the guys because
everyone was older than me," Dudlar
admitted, "andthatreally helped mecome
along quickly in terms of my athletic
UnlikeotherMichigan natives, Dudlar
did not grow up consumed by the aura of
Michigan athletics. It wasn't until his jun-
ior year, when Brother Rice center Marc
Milia signed with the Wolverines, that
Dudlar realized he too could play for a
college football superpower.

Dudlar. Whether it's bonding during sum-
mer workouts or winning the Rose Bowl
his junior year, Gannon depends on his
friends during the low points as well. After
losing to Notre Dame this past season, he
and starting quarterback Todd Collins es-
caped on a fishing outing.
And they didn't talk about football.
"Just having those guys who've been
through the same experiences as you, it's
really special,"heconfided."'There'sdefi-
nitelydifferentextremes(between lacrosse
and football), but there's still that sense of

The Graduate
of Business


Friendships with coaches is just as
important to Dudlar and there's no ques-
tion he has had the privilege of talented
coaches. And vocal ones at that. Both
football coach Gary Moeller and
DiGiovanni are known for their boister-
ous styles.
He's thankful the latter allows him
more freedom on the field.
"(DiGiovanni) is a very vocal coach,
but it's hard for me to take him too seri-
ously afterplaying football for fouryears"*
Dudlaradmitted. "Hedoesn't really yell at
me that much although he probably
DiGiovanni must be providing sore
guidance because so far this season, the
Wolverines' star defenseman has been
honorary captain twice (in addition to the
five Michigan captains) and has scored
one goal and three assists.
"He gets nervous before any competi-
tion where you have to show your abili- S
ties," Tony DiGiovanni said. "Just cause
its a different sport, a different level of
competition, different intensity, different
exposure, he still gets the butterflies."
People might question why after four
most rigorous athletic programs, Gannon
wouldn't want to be a "normal student"
"A lotofpeople you'd be interested in.
can't see past you being an athlete, a*
football player, and the stereotypes that go
along withthat. I'm notparticularly suited
in terms of that stereotype."
Ofcourse, some of the people who are
interested in him may well have been
scoutsforNFL teams. While mostathletes
dream of the opportunity to play profes-
sionally, Dudlar dreams of becoming a
try to play pro football," his father admit-*
ted. "No matter what anyone says to
Gannon, Gannon is always focused to be
a doctor. Nothing is going to deter him."
With graduation in December loom-
ing though, Dudlarmay have to find some-
thing new to occupy his time.
"It's just a question of finding some-
thing to put your passion into," he said.
"After I was done playing football, la-
crosse was a natural carry-over. After*
lacrosse is over, there's going to be other
- Onelaborheishappy to beridofis the
business behind football.
"There are-times you feel like you're
going in and punching the time clock
down at (Schembechler Hall)," he said.
Dudlar, a biology major, conceded
athleticprograms often deterathletes from
getting an education by demanding hours
of commitment. He is determined not to
let this educational opportunity pass him
by. Dudlar's 3.0-plus GPA is evidence of
his intelligence off the field.
"When you come in, they use you and
you should by all means use them back.
ics. There's so much money involved and
everyone feels the pressure."
Under that scrutiny, he's still self-
few things he holds on to is sentimentality.
In football, Gannon, like his older
brother Gunner who played nose guard at
the University of Richmond, wore his
father's No. 55. Unfortunately, the la-
crosse jerseys in high school didn't num-
ber that high. So why chose 22? It's 55
"Gannon is a true team player," a
proud Frank said. "If I knew what made
him tick I'd tell you."

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After four years of Michigan football, Gannon Dudlar now shines in lacrosse.

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A combination of athletics and aca-
demics dictated his selection ofcolleges as
and Michigan. But the conveniences of
being so close to home, and having such a
dedicated fan club featuring his mom and
dad, won Gannon's heart.
Immediately forced to take football
more seriously than the average freshman,
he played six games and registered four
tackles, two assists, two tackles for loss
and two sacks. Dudlar emerged because
of veterans' injuries, even though he was
less developed and experienced.
Up to 267 pounds his senior year,
Dudlar survived and also completed his
eligibility in the designated (and unique)
four years, while his roommates and close
friends will be returning next fall.
Over four seasons, however, he did
accumulateanumberofinjuries. His medi-
cal report resembles that of someone en-
tering a geriatric ward.
"I've hung up my cleats. My body is
too banged up to go on and try to do
anything further (like the NFL)," he said.
"If I really had a good shot at it, maybe
things would have been different...but it's
not something I really wanted to do."
Camaraderie and friendship accentu-
ate the highlights of playing sports for

So now that football's spring practice
has begun, Dudlarisn'tamongfriendsand
roommates at Oosterbaan. Although there
are minimal side effects now, school, la-
crosse, and hobbies keep him busy enough
to dispel any regrets he might have.
"I make fun of them .right now," he
admitted. "I'm enjoying the free time, but
I know once fall rolls around, Saturday
afternoon is going to be tough."
It has not been all lemonade and lolli-
pops for Dudlar this spring. Seeing other
players strength training, he realized how
much he misses the laborious routine.
"Just seeing the camaraderie, that's
the first time I really felt left out of it," he
When forced to play freshman year
againstlinemenwhowere50to I00pounds
heavier,conditioning was essential forpro-
tection. Yet in lacrosse, one of the only
protectors you haveisyour helmet. Some-
times, it hurts more than it helps.
"It's hard (to get to know people) with
the helmets on, everyone looks the same.
I didn't want to come off as a snob or
anything, but now I know all the guys.
"I was a little bit apprehensive at first,"
Dudlar said. "I didn't want to step on
anybody's toes when I came in."

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