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"It's Shameful"....

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Defending a Legacy

By Michael Weissenborn

“Mikey... you look like a bum.”

I wasn't even mad. He was right. He was always right. I'd strolled in to his office with a scraggly neckbeard, hair long enough to chew on, and a two-size too-large leather jacket. “Bum” was being kind.

I had just switched majors again, this time during my fourth year. I had no clue what I was doing, no idea where I was headed. My life now mirrored my appearance – directionless.

The words above were uttered to me by Roy Griak. The man was a living legend. He served in the South Pacific theater during WWII. He made it home, became a teacher, and dedicated the rest of his life to supporting kids. He coached of the University of Minnesota men's track and cross-country teams for 33 years....

When he spoke, you listened.

So I got my shit together. I graduated. I'm now somehow a software engineer with a degree in kinesiology. I also do the swim-bike-run thing from time-to-time. I'm pretty damn happy and I have Roy to thank for that.

Roy passed away in 2015. It was a sad day for all of us, but we knew that he left behind a legacy which would be upheld for generations to come.

That legacy is now under siege.

On October 9th, 2020, the University of Minnesota board of regents will vote on a proposal to terminate the men's track and field program as part of a budget reduction program.

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I'm astounded that the U of M athletic department would even consider making a move like this. It's shameful. I spent six years as a student-manager for this team. I watched kids from literally all over the world come in, graduate, and leave with the skills to lead a successful life. I watched Roy, a man in his 80s, hand-write “Thank You” notes to every alumni who donated to the program. Every. Single. One. The guy gave everything so these kids could have a chance.

Athletic departments across the country are struggling. If the vote passes, Minnesota will become the first Power Five school to cut its track program. The precedent will be set. Institutions will begin cutting track, cross-country, swimming... anything which falls under the non-revenue banner. The trickle-down effect to our beloved multisport is obvious.

But ultimately, this is about the kids. AD's are in trouble due to financial mismanagement. The athletes are now paying the price. That doesn't seem right because – because it isn't.

A campaign is underway to save the program but time is running out. I've included a few links to at the bottom to help out:
- a change.org petition
- a contact link for the board of regents
- our Facebook page with tons of information

We need to make as much noise as possible. Please take the time to sign the petition. Writing the regents would be even more helpful. We need to let them know that this decision is wrong.

Roy changed my life. His program changed my life. It's time to step up and honor the legacy of a hero.

As Roy would say:

“It's time to get snotty-nose tough.”

 

Mike Weissenborn
University of Minnesota Men's Track & Field
Student Manager
2003-2009

 

#SaveGopherTF

http://chng.it/Q2YtMp5Xpy

https://regents.umn.edu/contact

http://www.savegophertf.org/

 

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