MOUNT PLEASANT Members of the Central Michigan University Athletics Department, including coaches, student-athletes and administrators, were among the volunteers at today’s Michigan Indian Family Olympics event held at Bennett Track on the CMU campus.
The 21st annual event for the tribal organizations from across the state of Michigan promotes health and wellness through a family fun day of physical activity including track and field events and other competitions for all ages. The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, which created the event in 1987, is the unofficial host of the competition.
CMU’s participation in the Michigan Indian Family Olympics again demonstrates the close partnership that the school has with the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe.
“Having Central Michigan University’s Athletics Department involved in an event like this is not only an example of the relationship we have, but it also means so much to our youth that CMU student-athletes are involved,” said Joseph Sowmick, public relations director for the tribe. “The best part is that the student-athletes teach our youth that academics and athletics can go together.”
The student-athletes also appreciate the chance to be involved in the event. The entire men’s basketball squad was on hand volunteering during the afternoon, and other CMU sports were also represented.
“This is a great way to interact with the tribes from across Michigan, to experience their culture and to see people of all ages in athletic competition,” said men’s basketball player Jordan Bitzer. “Most importantly, everyone here is having a good time and enjoying the chance to spend time as a family.”
Senior Stacey Verhoff represented the women’s basketball team, and was actively involved in assisting with the softball toss event.
“It’s fun to see families together enjoying this competition,” Verhoff said. “They seem to be glad to have the opportunity to be involved in a event like this.”
Men’s head basketball coach Ernie Ziegler and his entire staff were also on hand to support the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and the Michigan Indian Family Olympics.
“This is a great opportunity to use athletics as a tool to bring people together,” Ziegler said. “The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe is a great supporter of CMU Athletics, and we’re glad to be able to spend time like today working with younger athletes in a long-lasting relationship.”