The Wolverine

June-July 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Aerospace Engineering. He and his wife, Penny, share an affinity for the Wolverines that goes back nearly 60 years. She became a "fanatic," he noted, D r. Joe Griffin earned three degrees (B.S.E., M.S.E. and Ph.D.) from the University of Michigan Department of BY JOHN BORTON HARDBALL COMMITMENT upon moving to Ann Arbor in 1953. Now they've enjoyed an opportunity to get in the game. They provided a major gift toward new softball offices at Alumni Field. Dr. Griffin noted, introducing his motivation: "We expect a lot from our coaches at Michigan. It is almost becomes a cliché to say we are con- cerned about the student-athletes and coaches and their performance on the field, off the field, in the classroom and in our community. However, it is more than just words for many of our best coaches in the Michigan athletic department, and that is why we are so very proud of them. "They provide many opportuni- Penny Griffin Lend A Helping Hand Softball Fans Dr. Joe And ties for Michigan students to observe and learn from their actual practice during their everyday lives. Because of the personal work ethic and con- tributions they make towards the students' lives and education, we should want to reward those special coaches whenever they deserve it. Making financial contributions to the Michigan athletic department is easy and personally rewarding when an opportunity arises to thank them for all their hard work." There is far more to this particular had just such an opportunity recently to thank our women's softball coach, Carol Hutchins, for going that ex- tra mile in something that she could have simply dismissed as a distrac- tion to her busy schedule as a head coach. She could have written us off as a distraction and spent the time recruiting, coaching or performing other demanding administrative du- ties and felt justified in doing so, but she did not. We are not another pair of her prized athletes. She owed us nothing." Hutchins provided something when it really counted. Penny Griffin expe- 50 THE WOLVERINE JUNE/JULY 2012 story. Dr. Griffin recounted how the personal touch by a venerated Michi- gan head coach made a huge differ- ence for the longtime Wolverine fans. He said: "My wife, Penny, and I The Griffins hold season tickets in U-M football, men's and women's basketball, and softball. They also attend gymnastics meets and hockey games. PHOTO COURTESY GRIFFIN FAMILY rienced a total knee replacement on July 5, 2011. Dr. Griffin explained the knee had degenerated so that there were no other options. She'd discov- ered she couldn't climb the stairs to attend Michigan's May graduation ceremony. Friends gave assurances about quickly returning to routine activi- ties, but Penny harbored reserva- tions. She did figure if the operation took place in early July, she'd be ready to walk the Michigan Stadium steps for the first football game. Surgery, though, proved more painful than she'd feared. Expected to walk the first day after the proce- dure, she couldn't even lift her leg to get out of bed. "Reality set in along with the se- vere pain, and she was moved to the point of tears, thinking that we had made the wrong decision," Dr. Grif- fin noted. "As the days went by I kept trying to encourage her that it would improve with time, but she became quite despondent over the whole ordeal. She received a lot phone calls and get well cards from her friends and relatives, but they didn't seem to have much of an im- pact on her." At that point, a game-changer of an idea hit. "Since she was a great football, basketball and softball fan, I thought I would try to borrow from the coaches what they might tell their athletes," Dr. Griffin said. "Since women's softball has become her favorite sport, I decided to tell her what I thought Coach Hutch might say to her athletes. "One morning in rehab I told her Coach Hutch would say, 'Suck it up … and get over it.' That seemed to

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