The Wolverine

June-July 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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resonate with her, and I sensed more determination on her part to get out of the facility, maybe earlier than another week or 10 days. The only other thing that brought a smile to her face was an announcement about troubles at Ohio State. She said, 'I love it, because it is a gift that just keeps giving!'" Buckeye-directed schadenfreude development, contacted the Griffins shortly after his arrival on campus in the fall of 2010. They'd become friends and began discussing poten- tial financial contributions to the ath- letic department. The Griffins didn't lack potential quickly took a back seat to hearing from the Michigan's head softball coach. "I decided to go one step further areas to support. They hold season tickets in football, men's and wom- en's basketball, and softball. They also attend gymnastics meets and hockey games. Gary followed up about eight and bring the big gun herself into this operation," Dr. Griffin said. "I wrote a short e-mail at 1:45 p.m. to Coach Hutchins saying, 'My wife, Penny Griffin, is an enthusiastic sup- porter and fan of Michigan softball. She attended your recent Softball Academy and has great admiration for your staff and the team.' "I briefly described her emotional situation and asked what Coach Hutch would say. I also said that I believed it would help her spirits if Coach Hutch would send her a card with some 'tough love' comments. I received a very quick and short re- sponse from her at 3 p.m. the same day saying simply: 'Done.'" The card quickly arrived, prompt- Get Coaches Near Fields Department Looking To Athletic months after Penny's knee replace- ment. He detailed a potential project that might not move forward with- out their help: a plan to build coaches offices at Alumni Field. Gary passed along comments from associate head coach Bonnie Tholl and assistant coach Jennifer Brun- didge, explaining how offices at the complex would make their sport more efficient, which resonated with Dr. Griffin. "Hutch deserves to have the same between Weidenbach Hall and Alumni Field. No more logistical snags and slow-ups with regard to interacting with players, conducting workout sessions, etc. That's the hope. That's what Michi- No more shuttling back and forth gan softball coaches are anticipating. A proposal to build coaches of- ing this e-mail from Dr. Griffin to Hutchins: "You made her day, her week and more when I delivered your card to her! She keeps it in a special place — not with the pile of other get-well cards. I still tell her in rehab that Hutch would tell you to 'suck it up and get over it.'" Dr. Griffin went on to report solid amenities as baseball and other teams that have their offices located at their fields," Gary wrote to the Griffins. "Several years ago people supported baseball in this effort, and we now hope they will support softball too." At that point, the Griffins needed little convincing. "This was a no-brainer for both progress, thanks to the motivation both from Hutchins and Michigan softball. "He wanted kind of a Hutch-tough pep talk," Hutchins noted. "I did my best. She was happy to hear from Michigan softball, and that was part of the beauty of it — we have a real connection with our fan base. That made it more special." Hutchins' involvement didn't end there. She continued to inquire about Penny's progress, expressing genu- ine interest and concern. All the while, the Griffins were moving in a direction they might not have realized at the time. They'd been looking for a way to help Michi- gan athletics, and it was unfolding before them. Alex Gary, an assistant director of Penny and me," Dr. Griffin said. "How could we say no to Coach Hutch, who had just helped us through a very difficult time in our lives? Now we had an opportunity to really thank her for her efforts as a coach in building a successful program and all her tremendous achievements culminating in the magical 2005 Michigan national soft- ball championship, and more impor- tantly, for the time she took to re- spond to our call for help to provide emotional support. "We love her, the entire coach- ing staff and the team and are very happy that we could be considered to be on the ground floor through our contribution to make this project happen. It is the least we could do." Although she expected nothing out of her interactions with the Griffins, Hutchins acknowledged the boost they're providing the program. "I was just floored," she said. "Their generosity was just amazing. I'm extremely grateful, as is our en- tire program." ❏ fices at Alumni Field hasn't gone to Michigan's Board of Regents yet, meaning there is no project at this point, advised Rob Radem- acher, associate athletic director for facilities and operations. Overall, though, Michigan is looking to re- locate coaches where they can be the most effective. "We're looking at a number of options to try and create space for coaches offices at their complex," Rademacher said. "We hope to put the coaches and their staffs at their facilities where the student-athletes' locker rooms are, so it's a one-stop shop for the student-athletes. softball, Michigan's coaches agree. "There can be a disconnection That would be very helpful for " at times when we are here at the office and the players arrive early to study or be in the locker room," softball assistant head coach Bon- nie Tholl noted. "Having our of- fices there will allow for us to grow that player-coach relationship and spend time understanding more of their athletic and academic and emotional needs. "Our camera system is readily available in the locker room, so we can study and evaluate film on our games, players and opponents. That evaluation is skewed a bit because we do not have the same availability here in our current offices. the effort to advance the softball facilities can contact Michigan's athletic development office, at 734-764-7131. Those interested in assisting in " — John Borton JUNE/JULY 2012 THE WOLVERINE 51

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