The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 21, 1999 - 11A
'Simmons was 'M"s original Red
By Chris Langrill
Daily Sports Writer
Legend. Pioneer. Founding father.
These words are often used by Michigan
faithful to describe special coaches who
dave contributed so much to Michigan's
toried athletic tradition.
They are words used to describe men
,such as Fielding Yost, Fritz Crisler and Bo
These are men who's legacies are so
great that mentioning their whole name
isn't even necessary to elicit feelings of
But what about "Red"?
No, not Red Berenson. Although the
Michigan hockey coach is a legend in his
,awn right, there is another legendary "Red"
onnected with the Ann Arbor campus.
That man is Red Simmons, former
Michigan women's track coach. On
Saturday, the men's and women's track
teams will compete in an event named after
the track and field legend, the 18th annual
Red Simmons Invitational.
Simmons began his career at Michigan in
1959 teaching physical education. By 1960,
he had already kick-started the first Ann
Arbor women's track club, "The
Michigammes." By the time he became
Michigan's first-ever women's track coach
in 1976, he had already developed seven
national champions, 19 state champions
and several state cross country champi-
"He is a pioneer, since he started the
women's program at the club perspective
and then made it a varsity sport," Michigan
women's coach James Henry said. "So I
consider him the founding father of
women's track and field."
Although Simmons retired from coach-
ing in 1981, he still lives in Ann Arbor with
his wife Lois, and remains a vital part of
the Michigan track program. He became
the first honorary 'M' Man in 1990 and was
the first person elected to the Michigan
women's track and field Hall of Fame in
"He's involved in many ways," Henry
said. "He's the number one booster for our
program ... when he's available, we bring
him to away meets as our motivational mas-
But do the athletes, whose parents
weren't even of college-age when Simmons
started here, really respond to the 88-year-
old Michigan legend?
"They respond to him because he has so
much youthful energy ... it's like he's in his
'SOs," Henry said.
"So that excites, motivates and keeps our
team going to know that the founding
Indeed, at almost 90, Simmons recently
competed in the '98 Senior Olympics, win-
ning a total of five gold medals in the long
and high jumps, shot put, discus and
Henry added that it's Simmons' birthday
this weekend, so both the men's and
women's teams will have extra incentive to
perform well at the unscored, home event.
"He'll be walking around like a peacock
this weekend," Henry said.
Freshman Oded Padan will be competing in his first Red Simmons invitational this weekend, which will
be held this weekend at the Indoor Track Building.
Men's swimming looking to
compete, recuperate in Texas
Jordan lfi bekhid a legacy of legends,
stonies and socil iresponsibility
ith time winding down in a game early in
Michael Jordan's playing career, the Bulls were
neck-and-neck heading down to the wire. It was
then-coach Doug Collins' first home game in the old
Chicago Stadium - a place just more than twice as big
as Yost Ice Arena but nearly 10 times as loud.
Collins used to chew one piece of gum during games,
one that would last the entire contest. Since it was a close
one, he was chewing rapidly, causing a white, sugary
glaze to form around his lips.
During a. timeout,with only seconds remaining and the
Bulls trailing by two points with the ball, Collins drew up
last-second play. He was scribbling madly, trying to
work out a miraculous finish. Suddenly, in the huddle, a
big black hand appeared in front of the dry-erase clip-
Michael Jordan said, "Coach, let me wipe that crap off
your face. I won't let you lose your first home game. Just
give me the ball."
Moments later, Jordan buried a 3-pointer. Bulls win.
When Jordan spoke, people listened and things hap-
Now that he's retired, stories and legends like that are
.what will make Jordan as mythical and amazing a player
as Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Jim Brown and Bobby Hull.
Throughout his career, Jordan, of course, was my hero
just as he was to countless millions in Chicago and
across the world. Besides his basketball skills, I always
admired the way he appeared on television. He was
always showered and wearing a great looking suit before
entering the post-game interviews. He addressed every
question, no matter how ridiculous or indecipherable,
with a calm and collected manner.,
Even when the scandalous book by Sam Smith, The
ordan Rules, came out chronicling a behind-the-scenes
Bulls season, he handled the media frenzy with a steady
In short, he was the perfect person for the ever-con-
The limelight. That's where Jordan could always be
He did basically everything possible on the court -
MVPs, championships, scoring titles, a defensive player
title - but he did not do everything he could have. That
is, he could have done more on his numerous television
Sure, when he was young he approved in ads against
drugs and alcohol. He also created the Michael Jordan
Foundation, a charitable organization. And he does com-
He did not speak up about how blacks are often in an
unfair position, with deteriorating and out-dated schools.
That education, especially higher education, is not easy
to acquire for inner-city black youth. He has not really
ever supported any social, racial or cultural cause.
Years ago, I heard this same argument from someone
else, that being in a highly visible position in society,
Jordan did not help out his race. Back then, I disagreed.
I used to think that, hell, it's his life and he should do
with it as he pleases.
But now in retrospect and in the wake of hours and
Lours of coverage on the sports networks, I think Jordan
should have taken a more active role in supporting
If Jordan's words were so powerful that he can demand
and deliver, then why did he not take a role in the com-
munity? When he spoke, people remembered it or
believed what he said. Opposing coaches understood
this, and tried to avoid inciting Jordan's wrath.
But this presents an even larger question: What is an
athlete's role in society? Does he have an obligation to a
certain group of people, be it his race, his nationality, his
If an athlete is also an entertainer - as Jordan was 'or
a public figure, then perhaps he or she needs to support
the people he or she represents.
Is it Steven Spielberg's duty to write and direct a movie
such as "Schindler's List" because he is Jewish? Does
that mean Sinead O'Connor is justified in tearing up a
picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live to stand up
for her Northern Irish beliefs? Just because Jordan is
black does he need to stand up for black causes?
It's really difficult to say and largely up to opinion.
There is a degree of responsibility these highly visible
figures in society should have, I think. They should
exploit their prominent position for those people like not
so lucky. But do so wisely.
Jordan did not even show minor support for blacks in
the United States, as far as I know. As intelligent as he is
manipulating the media, Jordan definitely could have
used his talents to his advantage.
Perhaps No. 23 needed to be as private a person as he
could be since he was on television all the time. As a
Bulls fan, I'm resigned to give Jordan the benefit of the
But now, with all this free time on his hands and with-
out NBC or ESPN examining his every step, he should
focus on supporting the black community more. At least
a word here or there.
By Jason Emeott
Daily Sports Writer
Bruised, battered, beaten, and sick.
Who would have thought a few
weeks in the paradise of Hawai'i
could take such a toll on a team of
athletes in their prime?
This weekend, the Michigan men's
swimming and diving team will trav-
el to Dallas to participate in the
Dallas Morning News Classic. The
Wolverines will be without some of
its quarantined teammates, who will
stay in Ann Arbor for some much-
After a rigorous training camp in
Honolulu, the Wolverines are a little
worn down and a bit sick of the bug
is "flying" around the pool deck -
Senior co-captain Tom Malchow
and freshman Tim Barry, Michigan's
top two butterfliers, will not make
the trip to Dallas this weekend due to
Malchow, the 1996 Olympic sil-
ver-medalist in the 200-meter butter-
fly, has yet to be challenged in the
200-yard fly this season and was a
pretty safe bet to win it at the
Also, freshman Jason Mallory will
not travel to the meet. He is awaiting
MRI results of his injured knee.
The Wolverines will travel to
Texas with its nine healthiest athletes
to take on Southern Methodist,
Texas, Florida State, Tennessee and
Big Ten rival Minnesota in the
Dallas Morning News Classic
rules stipulate that each team may
only enter eight swimmers and one
diver in the meet for competition. All
events will be swum as finals with
one swimmer from each team in the
consolation heat and one in the
Representing the Wolverines in
Dallas will be seniors Brett Wilmot,
Andy Potts and John Reich, junior
Scott Meyer, sophomores Chris
Thompson and Scott Werner and
freshmen Jeff Hopwood, Tim
Siciliano and Jordan Watland.
Michigan coach Jon Urbanchek
said he built his lineup around giving
his swimmers the opportunity to
swim a few different events than
what they're used to.
"It's a fun meet," Urbanchek said.
"I want to give the guys a chance to
swim some different events so they
don't get stale."
Urbanchek said the meet is a pret-
ty laid-back competition that
Michigan has traditionally done well
at because the finals-only format of
the meet favors the star power of the
"The meet's a tradition,"
Urbanchek said. "It's no cost to us.
The Dallas Morning News sponsors
it, and we never turn down anything
Urbanchek's main focus for the
weekend is to have a good time at
the meet and to fine tune his relay
"We need to improve our relay
performances. A goal is to improve
our relay seeds for the Big Ten's,"
Urbanchek is taking a pretty light
approach to this weekend's meet.
He's using it exactly for what it is -
a stepping stone for improvement for
the rest of the season.
"I'd just like to have fun and sur-
vive this weekend," Urbanchek said.
"I want to get over all our sicknesses
and prepare for the Big Ten
In d IYl rq II IrYpY/IY I I 1A 11M 1wY
Gymnasts open at home tonight
The Wolverines renew pleasantries with Illinois-Chicago
,y Dan Dingerson
Daily Sports Writer
Last season was characterized by
improvement for the men's gymnas-
tics team. The team finished the sea-
son as the most improved in the
country from the first meet to the
As this season begins, Michigan is
still looking to improve on last year's
The team, like many others, has a
goal to improve from one competi-
tion to the next - in terms of wins
and losses. That will be impossible
for the Wolverines Saturday, as they
have already beaten the Flames.
Michigan hosts its first meet of the
Coach Kurt Golder was happy
with the performances of his young
gymnasts, but he is hoping that they
can be more consistent this weekend.
"I was pretty pleased, they need to
learn to nail down all six events,"
Golder said. "That's part of the expe-
rience, eliminating those mistakes."
If his team can control its mistakes
as well as it did this past weekend,
the Wolverines should be able to
handle No. 17 Illinois-Chicago,
despite the injuries that they have to
Four members of the team are def-
initely out for this weekend: Jesse
Coleman, Tim Dehr, Brad Kenna and
Kevin Roulston. Justin Toman was
did a real good job of holding it
together," Golder said.
This meet may be a good time for
the Wolverines to heal from their
injuries, and for the freshmen to
learn the pressure of competition.
Michigan has had great success
recently against the Flames.
In addition to their victory this
year over Illinois-Chicago, the
Wolverines defeated the Flames
twice last year. When Michigan trav-
eled to Chicago last year they set 13
records and easily defeated the
The Flames are one of the lowest
ranked teams that the Wolverines
will face this year and finished