Inside Gopher Athletics: Our Difference Makers

Nov. 4, 2017
By Mark Coyle

One of our guiding principles in Gopher Athletics is action. I define that term as we value action over promises. For better or worse, we are all ultimately judged by our actions.

I was in the Kinnick Stadium stands with Gopher fans and donors last Saturday night in Iowa City. We all knew Coach Fleck and our team would be excited to participate in one of college football's great rivalries, but P.J. had also shared publicly his excitement to participate in what has become one of college football's greatest traditions. As you likely know, following the first quarter everyone inside Kinnick Stadium turns and waves to the patients in the University's Children's Hospital, which overlooks the field.

It was a privilege for our program to be a part of that tradition last weekend. The wave lasts less than a minute, but those moments are indescribable and very emotional. Almost magical.

In those moments, I also felt proud to see every member of our football program - students and staff - walk out to the hash marks on the field so they could see the hospital and wave at the children inside.

This isn't something other visiting teams have done in the past. The young men on our team, the young men who represent you, me, and everyone in this great state, it was their idea to walk out on the field so they could see those kids. They saw a platform to make a difference in the lives of others and they seized it. That's being defined by your actions.

This was one very visible example of the type of young people we have in our athletics department, but it's not the only one.

We have more than 720 student-athletes who collectively make a significant difference in our community, and that doesn't begin and end with waving to patients at a children's hospital in Iowa. It includes weekly visits to the Masonic Children's Hospital here on the University of Minnesota campus. It includes more than 170 community service events last year. It includes more than 600 Gopher student-athletes volunteering their time last year, the most precious thing they have to share with schedules already saturated with class, studying, training, practice and competition.

When you support Gopher Athletics, these are the people you are supporting. When you buy a ticket to an event, wear our colors, or donate to the Golden Gopher Fund, you are supporting a college experience for people who understand their power to create positive change in our community.

I tell our staff and our student-athletes we are all judged by our actions. It's a wonderful feeling to see the actions of so many of our student-athletes are defining them as people who we can all be proud of.

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