Fire Up Chats is a new feature on CMUChippewas.com that aims to bring fans into the office of Director of Athletics Michael Alford. In each post, Alford will provide his unique perspective on CMU Athletics and a host of other topics. Be sure to visit cmuchippewas.com daily for the latest on CMU Athletics!
Passion. If there's one word that encapsulates my experience with Central Michigan University since I started in July, it's passion. There's an unmistakable passion for the work we are doing on this campus, and it extends far beyond the city limits of Mount Pleasant.
Since we arrived, my wife, Laura, and I have put more than 6,000 miles on our vehicle traversing the state from Detroit to Mackinac Island to Traverse City and everywhere in between. At each stop, when people see the action C on my lapel or on my shirt, an instant connection is made. Our alums can't wait to share stories of their time on campus and how each fall they can't wait to get back to Mount Pleasant. It's become abundantly clear to Laura and I that, for those individuals associated with this university, CMU is not just a school but a part of their identity.
With school back in session, I have made it a point to get out to practice and to games to watch our student-athletes and coaches ply their trade. I want these men and women to know me not only as a leader and advocate for them, but also as one of their biggest fans! Taking in our first game day at Kelly/Shorts Stadium and watching a thrilling victory is something I won't soon forget, but the excitement isn't limited to football. Our family has had a blast watching volleyball and soccer get off to terrific starts, and there's certain to be plenty more to come across the entire fall sports scene.
One of my principle charges from President George E. Ross and our university leadership is to continue to elevate CMU as a major player in college athletics. In my nearly 30-year career in college and professional sports, I've learned that a vision is not dictated from one person, but rather grown collaboratively throughout the organization. Every day I meet with our supporters, staff and student-athletes and hear their vision for CMU Athletics. The robust and, frankly, aggressive vision we are developing for this athletics department has me excited to come to work each and every day.
A vision alone, however, is not enough to have success. I am a firm believer in a process-driven approach. People often hear the word "process" and equate that to meaning "slow and deliberate." In my mind, nothing could be further from the truth. To me "process" simply means we are going to commit to doing things the right way. Already, we are finalizing plans and conducting the appropriate needs analyses to set ourselves up for success. When our student-athletes and our staff hit the pillow each night, I have challenged them to ask themselves if they got better that day. When you invest in the process the answer inevitably comes back as a yes more often than not. When that's the case, the end result takes care of itself.
Serving as your director of athletics is one of the great privileges of my life. This is just the first of many Fire Up Chats I will have with you during what I hope is a long and prosperous tenure at CMU. I'm eager to share the many exciting things that are happening at CMU in the weeks and months ahead. I hope that you, too, will invest in the process of transforming CMU. As Aristotle once wrote, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." I assure you, during my time leading CMU Athletics, excellence will become a habit.
Fire up Chips!