Wednesday, February 10, 2010 // The Statement 3B
From the Paris games of 1900 through the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the University has seen 205 of its students and coaches
participate in the international sporting event. If the University were its own country, the total medals won by its representa-
tives - 65 gold, 30 silver and 38 bronze - would make the 'U' the 24th most successful country in the history of the games.
What follows are some of the most intriguing and timeless stories of 'U' athletes and leaders to compete in the Olympics.
BY ALLIE WHITE I DEPUTY MAGAZINE EDITOR
Former Michigan hockey player
Jack Johnson is no stranger to
wearing his country's colors.
After all, the reason he first came
to Ann Arbor was to play for the U.S.
National Team Development Program
- a causeway for many hockey players
to the National Hockey League, as well
as to the University of Michigan.
And for those years with the pro-
gram - from 2003 to 2005 - Johnson
wore the colors arguably better than
any defenseman in the program's his-
Eighty-one points - the most ever
by a defenseman.
Seven points in one game - the
Yoost ever, by anyone.
So when U.S.A. hockey called to
invite Johnson to be part of the 2007
International Ice Hockey Federation
World Championship team, no one
was surprised. It was his fifth year
donning an American hockey jersey.
Even Johnson seemed to know it was
He wore the red, white and blue,
again, helping the American team on
its path to a bronze medal.
After that, Johnson donned the
maize and blue
for two years in Ann Arbor, but in a world much bigger than Yost Ice
when Michigan coach Red Berenson - Arena.
approved, Johnson left early for the Fast forward to this past New Year's
next level. Eve, and Johnson's nerves are getting
It was a new world for Johnson, the best of him.
being thrown into the NHL as the The 23-year-old defenseman knows
third pick in the 2005 NHL Entry that an announcement is coming soon.
Draft. He started playing in March of After all, at the NHL Winter Classic on
the 2007 season with the Los Angeles New Year's Day, the whole world will
Kings, seeing time in five games but know who's representing the Ameri-
failing to tally a single point.
Johnson's acclimation to the pro- "To be able to represent m
fessional game continues to this day,
but there was still one constant in his on the biggest stage like tha
sights, one thing that felt familiar and
was never fully complete. something I'll never forget.
He had to weal his country's colors,
again. can team. It's going to be a new year
"I was just hoping more than any- the next day, and this could be a hell of
thing that someday I could call myself a way to start 20I0.
a U.S. Olympian," Johnson said. When Johnson checked his mail-
This past summer, Johnson was box that day, the puzzle he had been
invited to the U.S. Olympic camp to piecing together since coming to Ann
prove himself to a handful of NHL Arbor in 2003 got its last piece.
General Managers. It hadn't been a Johnson would be an Olympian. On
question for years whether Johnson hockey's biggeststage, the former Wol-
could be a representative of his coun- verine would again wear the jersey he
try. It had become second nature. had worn for so many years and grown
But here he was, proving himself accustomed to.
again like he had been on a daily basis "It's a dream come true," Johnson
in Los Angeles, trying to find his niche said. "It's the biggest stage in the world
and to be able to represent my country
on the biggest
stage like that is something I'll never
Toronto Maple Leafs President and
General Manager Brian Burke called
Johnson the next day to congratulate
him, just before the rest of the world
And unlike any other U.S. Olympic
hockey player, Johnson is leaving early
When the games
ny country open on Friday
night, Johnson will
at is be the only repre-
sentative of the U.S.
Hockey team to take
part in the opening
ceremonies. An extra day on the "big-
gest stage," as Johnson repeatedly
called it in a recent interview, could
It was just another day he could
gladly wear those colors.
A lot of the credit for his develop-
ment and his ascension to the world's
biggest stage, according to Johnson,
goes to Berenson and the University of
Every summer, Johnson comes back
to Ann Arbor to train with Berenson
and the rest of the program. To him,
this is the best place to continue finely
tailoring his game.
Unlike many Wolverines, Johnson
never had to come to Ann Arbor to
prove himself. He could have left after
one year or just as easily never blinked
on his way to the NHL.
He was, as current Wolverine Chris
Summers described, "a hockey prodi-
So when the Carolina Hurricanes
called during the 2006 Stanley Cup
Finals, telling Johnson that they need-
ed him on the roster immediately, Red
Berenson was impressed and proud
when Johnson politely declined.
"He's done everything right, all the
way up," Berenson said in an interview
Johnson may not be at the top of his
game in professional hockey yet. After
all, he would have only graduated
from Michigan two years ago if he had
stayed the full four years.
But an Olympic invitation - a
chance to dust off his American jersey
- could just mean more to him.
"There's a chance that you might
only get one opportunity to play in the
Olympics," Johnson said. "You spend
your entire career trying to crack an
NHL lineup, and the NHL is a special
thing, but being able to call yourself an
Olympian and represent your coun-
try...it's a different kind of special. It's
a worldwide thing." N
When Henry Jamison "Jam" Handy arrived at the University of Michigan, he had hopes of playing football for for-
mer coach Fielding Yost. But at 4-foot-1 and 86 pounds, he was offered a position as team mascot. Despite his initial
setback, Handy went on to become the first Wolverine to ever medal in swimming at the Olympics, winning a
bronze in the 440-yard breaststroke at the 1904 summer games in St. Louis.
Although varsity sports for women didn't exist at the University until the 1970s, Maxine "Micki"
King trained with the men's head diving coach in preparation for the 1968 Mexico City Olym-
pics. After eight dives, King was in first place, but on her ninth, she hit the board and broke
her left arm. Despite not being able to lift her arm over her head, King completed her final
dive and placed fourth overall. At the 1972 games in Munich, King came back and won gold. 4
In a sport dominated by athletes from the former Soviet bloc nations, University alum Steve
Fraser brought home the first-ever gold medal for the United States in Greco-Roman wres-
tling. At the 1984 games in Los Angeles, Fraser defeated the three-time world champion from
Sweden to place first.