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April 16, 2007 - Image 22

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-04-16

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i

Monday, April 16, 2007 - 6C

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Five moments for last four years

golden age of Michigan
sports, it wasn't. The class
of 2007 will graduate
with zero football national titles,
zero Frozen - --
Four berths
and zero trips
to the Big
Dance.
Every year"
in every major
sport, we were
given reason MATT
to hope. Time
and time SINGER
again, that
hope was taken from us, ground
into a fine paste in front of our
eyes and cruelly spit back in
our face as the season came to a
deflating conclusion.
But in sports - like life - the
final result isn't really all that mat-
ters. The journey counts, too. And
it's hard to imagine any cohort of
Wolverines topping our journey.
Our teams didn'tbring home
the big-time hardware, but they
created moments which none of us
will ever forget: Moments that will
foreverbe inscribed in Michigan
lore. These moments are so indel-
ibly marked in our memories that
60 years from now, we'll be able
to close our eyes, return to the Big
House, Yost or Crisler and relive
them all over again. moments of
pure joy, stomach-wrenching angst
and, yes, abject disappointment.
Moments that we wouldn'ttrade in
for all the trophies in the NCAA's
cabinet.
In no particular order, these
were the five sports moments that
defined our years as Wolverines:

ON THE FIELD: There's something
special about your first football
season asa Michigan student.
Somethingspecial about 6,000
or so freshmen from all walks of
life coming together and realiz-
ing there's no greater place in the
world than Michigan Stadium on a
Saturday afternoon.
For us, the first year was espe-
cially unique. A veteran team
whose season was all but dead
until the Steve Breaston-to-John
Navarre miracle in the Metrodome,
stormed back to win our first (and
only) outright Big Ten title. When
the Wolverines' improbable jour-
ney was completed, we made our
way down to the field to celebrate
our first (and only) triumph over
the hated Buckeyes on the very
field where our dreams had just
come true.
A WINNING STATE OF MIND: It's a
key element of any young Wolver-
ine's indoctrination: learning to be
condescending toward our neigh-
bors to the northwest. By the end of
Welcome Week, every freshman -
even out-of-staters like me - knew
that Michigan's academics were
better, Michigan's sports were bet-
ter and Michigan's campus was
better. There was just one hole in
the equation - for as long as most
of us could remember, the Sparties
were better at throwing a leather
ball through a metal cylinder.
But on one cathartic January
evening in Crisler Arena, that for-
mula finally changed. Michigan
started off slow, but in the second
half, the Wolverines' momentum
kept on building, as Chris Hunter

dunked, Graham Brown rebounded
and Daniel Horton H-bombed
Michigan into the lead. By the end,
the "House that Cazzie Built" was
shaking, the scoreboard read 72-67
and basketball-starved Michigan
students were celebrating a return
to-glory on the hardwood.
JMFJ: Throughthe years, Michi-
gan hockey has had plenty of stars.
But Jack Johnson was a different:
He was a legend.
Even to a hockey layman, it was
obvious that Jack stood out from
his counterparts on the ice. He was
bigger, stronger, faster and - oh,
boy - that slapshot was a thing of
beauty.
The talent, though, was only
part of Jack's mystique. After his
freshman year, with big NHL
dollars calling, he said "the only
way you're going to get me out of
(Ann Arbor) is by gunpoint." He
once knocked an opposing goalie's
helmet off with a slap shot. His
father's dancing during intermis-
sions just added to Jack's myth.
And, perhaps, Yost fans' chants of
"Kill, Jack, Kill" summed up John-
son's je ne sais quoi the best.
FINDLAY'S BLAST: For most Michi-
gan fans,.the summer is a time
to sit back, relax and enjoy some
time away from the rigors of being.
a Wolverine supporter. But the
Michigan softball team's incredible
run in the 2005 Women's College
World Series re-engaged the far-
flung Maize and Blue fan base and
brought back that stomach-churn-
ing sensation we're all so familiar
with. But this time, the end result

was much, much sweeter.
The tournament culminated
with a 10-inning duel between
Michigan hurler Jennie Ritter and
UCLA's Anjelica Selden. After Rit-
ter worked out of a bases-loaded
jam in the bottom of the ninth,
then-freshman Samantha Find-
lay stepped up to the plate with
two outs and runners on first and
second. She crushed a three-run
homer, putting the Wolverines
ahead for good. Thanks to Findlay,
Ritter and the rest of the gritty
Wolverine squad, the class of'07
could finally say "We're No.1."
LIVIN' ON A PRAYER: Holding a 27-
10 lead halfway through the fourth
quarter in 2004, it appeared Michi-
gan State had stuck a dagger firmly
in Michigan's chest. Little did the
Spartans know that the Wolverines
had an invincible Braylon Edwards
on their side.
With dusk settling over Ann
Arbor and a cool breeze blowing,
the true believers were treated to
one of the greatest comebacks in -
college football history. With every
Henne-to-Edwards bomb, the
mood ofthe Big House changed:
from despondent, to skeptical, to
hopeful and finallyto ecstatic.
With half the stadium - the weak 7
ones - already gone, the Big House
reached unheard-of decibel levels,
willing the Wolverines to a one-
of-a-kind victory. On that magical x
evening in late October, those who
stayed truly were champions.
- Singer is a former senior
sports editor. He can be reached
at mattsing@umich edu.

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