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February 21, 2001 - Image 9

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-02-21

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Daily forum
*ls something about Michigan's hockey team bothering you?
Are you constantly disappointed by the basketball team?
just plain bored?
Stop yelling from the sidelines. Speak your mind at
michigandaily.com/forum We'll see you there.
inichigandaily.com /sports

duik~iunk~
iPORTrS

WEDNESDAY
FEBRUARY 21, 2001

9

*Robbie -Mi
.goodstory of
Ibet you think that your life is really
hard. I hear your type complain all
.the time. Frankly, I can't say that I'm
all that interested.
Whether it's that your girlfriend's get-
ing on your
nerves, your
Linguistics 211
midterm is killing
you or you're sick
of partying every
weekend, let me

hIgan

sfeel-

UNYIELDING DEDICATION
BY KRISTEN FIDH DAILY SPORTS WRITER

tell you: We're all
very impressed.
Find me when JON
*you add "varsity
hockey player at
Michigan" to your The Schwartz
resume.
Oh, and don't
forget about the 3.98 grade-point aver-
age in, say, cellular molecular biology.
It's a dichotomy that seems too far-
fetched to believe; a Michigan athlete
that thrives not in the spotlight, but
rather, in the science lab. Robbie Kohen
shatters such assumptions. Sure, he may
not take home the award for Michigan's
MVP this season, but let's be honest,
will the winner be able to say that he
was awarded Chemistry Student of the
Year and Physics Student of the Year in
high school? Probably not.
Let's be even more honest: Until he
skated around the ice with a Michigan
flag on Friday night - senior night - -
7how many people actually knew who
'Robbie Kohen was? If you say that you
1 id it's a pleasure to meet you Mrs.
Kohen.
"Everybody has their own thing - -
everybody respects each other for what
ey do best," Kohen said after Friday
might's game. "I'm clearly not the best
hockey player on this team so I have to
make my mark somewhere else, I
mgess."
It's fitting that Kohen got to celebrate
his senior night against Notre Dame, of
all schools. After all, if this team has a
udy, his name is Robbie.
tTennis host
K: Albert Kim
Daily Sports Writer

me year
Michigan's Rudy didn't get to play in
his final regular season game at Yost -
the consolation game at this season's
Great Lakes Invitational was the only
regular season action he's seen since
walking onto the team. But around the
midway point in the third period of
Friday night's game, he found himself
changing from his walk-on uniform -
a suit and tie -- into the white Michigan
sweater.
Feel sorry for Rob Kohen. The guy put
everything he had into the team, and
never really got to reap any benefits. Feel
sorry for Kohen for all the times that he
had to run from Yost after practice to
make it in time for his evening classes.
Feel sorry for Kohen because he
won't feel sorry for himself.
"If I wanted to play college hockey,"
he says, "I would have played juniors
and gone to probably a school that was-
n't Michigan. This school's won more
national championships than anybody
else and the best players come here. And
that's why they come here.
"If I was looking for playing time, I'd
be playing for the club team. I was hop-
ing I'd get a few chances here and I got
a few. Obviously, I would have loved to
play more, but it's fine with me.
Whatever works."
Huh?
Isn't this the age of the stuck-up and
obnoxious athlete stereotype? Robbie,
what happened to the "me first" attitude
that you're supposed to wear on your
sleeve? If you're ever going to make it
in this world, Rob, you'd better get your
act together.
No, Robbie Kohen should be admired
for what he brought to the program.
Maybe the CCHA Playoffs at Yost will
be a perfect time to start the "Robbie
Kohen" chant going.
He earned it.

The road wasn't a very friendly place
or the No. 30 Michigan men's tennis
team (0-1 Big Ten, 5-1 overall) last
weekend, but it hopes to bounce back
ltoday against Indiana State in a non-
conference dual match.
For the Wolverines, the Varsity
Tennis Center seems to be where their
heart has been this season, as they've
gone undefeated (5-0) on their home
courts.
But in their first match away from
home Saturday, the Wolverines were
*efeated by Northwestern, 4-3, to start
he Big Ten season at 0-1.
"That was.a difficult environment to
play in and we just flat out didn't play
well enough," Michigan coach Mark
Mees said.
The Wolverines once again took the
doubles point, like they have in ever
natch this year, but struggled in sin-
gles.
No. i singles player Henry Beam
*noved within two wins of 60 for his
career, and freshman Anthony Jackson
stayed undefeated for the season, but
those were the only two singles victo-
ries that Michigan could garner. Mees

IfJon Schwartz didn't have to sit in the
press box, he would have been chanting
"Robbie Kohen " all season. He can be
reached atjlsz@umich.edu.
SycamoreS
VARSITY TENNIS CENTER
Who: No. 30 Michigan (5.1) vs. No. 31
Indiana State 15-1)
When: 3 p.m. today
tatest: The Wolverines return home to avenge
their first loss of the season. Michigan is
undefeated in five home matches.
isn't overly concerned, though.
"We just did not play well against
Northwestern in singles," Mees said.
"But I am not ready to push the panic
button because of that."
Michigan will look to get its singles
back on track against No. 31 Indiana
State.
The Sycamores are coached by Brian
Boland, who is only the second coach in
team history to earn 100 career wins.
As expected, the Wolverines aren't
happy about the loss on Saturday, and
Mees expects them to be ready.
"They are a very talented team and it
will be a good test for us,"Mees said. "I
do think the team will respond and play
well (today) against Indiana State."
Every point will be a test from here
on out, and consistency and depth will
be key if the Wolverines are to suc-
ceed. Mees knows that regardless of
where you play, players still need to
step up.
"We have to be ready to perform well
every match or we will not be success-
ful," Mees said.
It won't get any easier for the
Wolverines, as Michigan will play its
second Big Ten match against
Minnesota on Saturday at home.
"With the length of the season, you
have to find the right emotional level to
be at for every match," Mees said. "You
can't be up and down like a yo-yo
(emotionally) or your performance will
be up and down like a yo-yo."

Jt takes someone special. It takes
someone selfless, and it takes the
determination of a champion.
The most accomplished swimmer
on the Michigan team, senior Chris
Thompson is only partially tapering
for this weekend's Big Ten
Tournament. Putting the team first,
he will double up on races to help
compensate for points lost due to
injured teammates. In turn, he jeopar-
dizes his own Big Ten title quest.
Thompson is a quiet leader,
dependable in his selflessness.
But to do so also takes a solid
focus, a trait Thompson has pos-
sessed throughout his swimming
career.
"All the kids look up to him even
though they tease him a lot," said
Michigan coach Jon Urbanchek, who
is also the assistant coach for the
American Olympic swimming team.
"They tease him because they like
him - it's just because he is so quiet
and so pleasant. His shyness and nice
manners are unusual for college
kids."
This past summer at the Sydney
Olympics, Thompson accomplished a
lifelong goal by winning an Olympic
medal - the bronze in the 1,500-
meter freestyle.
He didn't take months off to cele-
brate. He didn't forget about his edu-
cation just because a new ornament
was hanging from his neck.
Instead, he returned to Ann Arbor,
enrolled in classes and jumped in the
pool to continue his duty for the
Michigan team. The dedicated athlete
had goals to accomplish and no
desire to waste time.
THE DETERMINATION
"I tend to really push myself a lot,
so sometimes Jon and some of the
guys will be just like, 'wait, you need
to calm down a little bit,"' Thompson
said. "I want to do whatever it takes
to do well, and occasionally they just
tell me to back off a little bit."
Thompson's work ethic has paid
off, but his successful swimming
career has not come without sacri-
fice.
Coming out of high school,
Thompson knew that he wanted to
make the 2000 Olympic team.
Storing that goal in the back of his
mind, he left his close-knit family in
Roseburg, Ore. and traveled across
the country to attend Michigan, a
decision that only allows him a trip
home once or twice a year.
Still, the family principles he was
raised with affects him even today, as
Thompson's personal values are just
as high as his racing standards.
"He doesn't drink, and he does it
on his own," Urbanchek said. "He
chose to be that way. He wants to
make sure he doesn't abuse his body,
so he can get 100 percent out of it -
or more if it is possible."
Even when offered wine by his par-
ents this past Thanksgiving,
Thompson's commitment to his
team's "no drinking" policy took
precedent.
"I'm kind of a stickler for the rules
like that, and my roommates are
always making fun of me because I
am always worried about following
the rules and keeping things right. I
guess I'm kind of a 'goodie-goodie'
like that. But I've been successful, so
I can't complain."
THE RACE
A long 13 years of training had
passed, and it was time for the
Olympic trials. This was the race that
would determine whether Thompson
would race for the American team or
watch the games from his living room

couch.
He should have been healthy,
tapered and well-prepared, but
Thompson's health situation was far

from ideal.
"I was coughing up stuff, but I was
fortunate that I'm good enough that I
was able to work off not even being
100 percent, Thompson said. "I was
able to just hold on and make it."
In the water, he watched the lead-
ers pass him and realized that he had
to hang on in order to earn a spot on
the team. Survival mode kicked in,
and he earned a place by just a couple
seconds.
By the time the real thing came
around, Thompson was healthy and
ready.
The gun fired, and the most excit-
ing 15 minutes of his life was under-
way.
"I'd see people when they'd come
up, I'd see people when they'd fall
off, and, no matter what, I just had to
hold on," Thompson said.
He edged into third place early on,
but coming from far behind, Alexei
Filipets caught Thompson and was
ahead of him at the 1,400 mark.
"At that last stretch, we turned and
he was ahead of me," Thompson said.
"I thought we were going to tie."
Even during the final strokes,
Filipets' body position was in front of
Thompson's. The American hero just
happened to reach the wall first and
beat Filipets by .07 second.
He finished with a bronze-medal
time of 14:56.81, accomplishing all
three of his goals - to break the 15-
minute mark, earn an Olympic medal
and set the American record.
Thompson knew that he was repre-
senting his family, his friends, his
coaches and the University as well as
his country.
"I might have been the person get-
ting the award, but there were a bunch
of people that helped out over the
years, and it's nice to be able to say
thanks," Thompson said.
THE MEMORY
"I was tired, I was happy, I was
excited and I had 50 different emo-
tions running through me all at the
same time," Thompson said.
After seeing the number three next
to his name, Thompson received a
brief congratulations from
Urbanchek and then rushed to the
awards ceremony.
He stood proudly on the stand,
admiring the American flag raised in
his honor and listened to the unfamil-
iar music.
"I thought that this was for my
country, so while they were playing
the Australian National Anthem, I
was trying to sing the U.S. anthem,"
Thompson said. "But I had such a
hard time trying to sing the words. I
felt so bad - who forgets the words
to the National Anthem?"
THE HOMECOMING
"And then, all of a sudden, I was
done with the 2000 Olympic Games
and it was like, wait a second -
what's next?" Thompson said.
He took nine days off to tour
Australia with his family. Returning
to Michigan, determination took

hold, and Thompson got right back in
the pool.
"People were like 'Aren't you
going to take a break?"' he said.
"And I was like 'No, I can't.' This is
my senior year, I've got stuff to do
and I've got other goals to accom-
plish - I can't slack off anymore."
Thompson wants to help the
Wolverines win another Big Ten
Championship. He wants to move out
of that second-place slump that has
plagued him for three years in a row
at the national level and win an
NCAA title.
"That was motivation enough to
keep me going at a time when a lot of
athletes come out of the Olympics and
go into a low period off of a big high,"
Thompson said. "I had plans and I had
goals that I set up, so I wanted to get
right back into it. I can rest later on.
when I retire or when I am old."
THE ROLE MODEL
"What amazed me about him at the
Olympics was that he took the time
with little kids to sit down with them
and sign cards," Urbanchek said. "He
interacts with people when he signs
cards, he doesn't just sign the card
and never look up - he connected
with everybody."
Because swimming is such an
important sport in Australia, many
children would treat Thompson like a
celebrity. What he didn't realize right
away is that the men who had taken

BRETT MOUNTAIN/Daily
Senior Chris Thompson swam the 1,500-meter freestyle this past summer In the
Sydney Olympics to win the bronze medal. Months later, teamwork still comes first.

the gold and silver medals just above
him were Australian heroes.
"It would be like me competing
against Michael Jordan," Thompson
said. "I didn't think it was a big deal,
but, for them, it was so huge. I just
approached it slowly because it was
awesome that people gave you that
kind of respect."
And Thompson responded gra-
ciously.
"When I was little, I always loved
meeting the faster swimmers and get-
ting to know them a little-bit,"
Thompson said. "I figured that it
helped me so much in my career,
being able to do that, maybe I can
help kids out - teach them and help
them achieve a goal they have set for
themselves."
Thompson enjoys his time dung
the summers, helping run-tie
Wolverine Swim Camps. This Maye
will be running a Western zone dis-
tance camp sponsored by USA swim-
ming. After his eligibility has expires,
Thompson hopes to land contract
opportunities, allowing him to run
clinics and continue helping children.
"There are other aspects of life,.not
just excelling in a sport or doing well
in school," Thompson said. "If I
assist little kids and kind of get them
excited about the sport, then I;can
help the sport out and help them out.
I figure that, maybe if I can do that, I
will be successful."
Success, redefined.

EXPLORE TEACHING OPPORTUNITIES
Diversity Job Fair
Hosted by Herlong Cathedral School
Sunday, February 25, 2001
3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.

; ,
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w
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TOM FELDKAMP/Daily
The mn's tnis tea~m Ina" to /ituain

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