The Wolverine

November 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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������ olympic sports profiles Runner Bobby Aprill���s Commitment To His Coach Is Paying Off Aprill hopes to conclude his career with his first-ever NCAA Championships appearance this fall. photo courtesy u-m sports information Senior Bobby Aprill was at a crossroads. Without a coach, following the retirement of longtime Michigan cross country head man Ron Warhurst in the summer of 2010, and with his personal interest in a sport he had dedicated much of his life to waning, Aprill seemed uncertain of his future. ���I started to kind of drift away,��� Aprill said. ���I started to be interested in other things, and the focus wasn���t quite there for me.��� Just like Michigan���s cross country program, Aprill needed a shot in the arm ��� and found one when U-M hired Alex Gibby, who coached William and Mary to conference championships and NCAA Championship appearances in each of his seven years at the helm. ���When Coach Gibby came in, he refocused me,��� Aprill said. But before Aprill allowed Gibby the opportunity to rekindle his running spirit, the Dexter, Mich., native, who had been training on his own, was thrust into a challenging decision. ���When Coach Gibby got here, it could have gone one of two ways,��� Aprill said. ���With a new coach halfway through college, I could either boycott him and show my commitment to my old coach, or fully commit to him.��� Gibby not only understood Aprill���s reservations, but reiterated the difficulty of deviating from a familiar path and buying into a new, largely foreign, system. ���The hardest thing for human beings is change,��� Gibby said, referring to his upperclassmen. ���To switch direction midway through their careers is really a credit to them more than anything. I would say that they keyed the roots of their success rather than anything I did in particular.��� Despite the precise and methodical nature of his sport���s training, Aprill made the biggest decision of his collegiate athletic career. ���It was blind faith until the Big Ten Championships last year,��� said Aprill, who earned All-Big Ten honors with a seventh-place individual finish. ���That was the first time I thought this guy knows what he is talking about ��� I made the right choice.��� It was a choice that paid dividends last season, and both Aprill and Gibby hope for an even bigger payout this year ��� specifically an appearance, and strong showing, at the NCAA Championships Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind. ���The one thing I haven���t done in my college career is run at the national championships,��� Aprill said. ���That���s the end all.��� ��� Kevin Minor Senior Bryn Bain Leads Michigan���s NCAA Championship Ambitions A group of U-M field hockey players faced the congested set of spectator stands that lined the north boundary of Phyllis Ocker field and sang the institution���s famed fight song just moments after capturing their second-consecutive Big Ten regular-season title with a championship-clinching 4-2 victory over Indiana Oct. 28. The celebration was subdued, considering what the team had accomplished. But for the Wolverines, who were upset by 12th-seeded Old Dominion in the first round of the NCAA Tournament after winning both the Big Ten regular-season and tournament crown last season, their quest is far from over. For the senior class in particular, led by midfielder Bryn Bain, a deep NCAA Tournament run is the one mountain they have yet to conquer. ���It���s really important,��� Bain said. ���Last year was a year where we hadn���t really dipped our toes in the water, and hopefully this year we can take advantage of our experience.��� The midfield mainstay, who has appeared in more than 70 games in her Michigan career, recalls a time where a toe in the water would have been a much needed breath of fresh air. ���My freshman year was kind of over- Bain, a midfielder who has appeared in more than 70 games in her Michigan career, emerged as a leader for the Wolverines this season. photo courtesy u-m sports information whelming,��� she said. ���I had to take a step back, look at the big picture and realize I was a small fish in a huge pond.��� Still, Bain was able to rely on her natural abilities to contribute as an underclassman. While Bain has once again made an impact on the field this year with her strength, speed and skill, she has also utilized her experiences to help a talented group of Wolverine youngsters adjust to the game, and life, at the collegiate level. ���Bryn is strong, she���s the fastest player on our team, and she���s just very skilled,��� head coach Marcia Pankratz said. ���She���s also shown wonderful leadership this season ��� that���s one of the biggest reasons why we���ve been so successful ��� she sets a great example and is a good mentor for the younger players.��� Her efforts have paid off. Bain has been the epitome of a field general from her midfield spot, utilizing sound ball control and smart decisions to help the Wolverines mitigate the mistakes that can become characteristic of a team that relies on production from underclassmen. ���One of my goals this past offseason was to be a leader by example,��� Bain said. ���I think I really held myself to that standard and proved to my team that I can be both a leader vocally and by example.��� Bain is hopeful she can continue to lead U-M through the long string of do-or-die matchups over the final month of the season, and stamp a lasting legacy on her career ��� the program���s second NCAA title. ���I think all your past experience helps you prepare for these moments,��� Bain said. ���It���s not really overwhelming now because you kind of expect it at this point.��� ��� Kevin Minor NOVEMBER 2011��� ������ the wolverine��� 111

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