‘It’s not the four-year plan, but the 40-year plan:’ Life after college basketball

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By Minh Doan, Daily Sports Writer
Published January 13, 2015

As the Michigan women’s basketball team ran out of the locker room for the second half of its game against Ohio State on Sunday, the Wolverines ran by a human tunnel comprised of past Michigan players, some from Team One and others who graduated just two years ago.

It was Alumni Day at Crisler Center, and the program’s graduates were back to not only be honored at a halftime ceremony, but also to support the current team.

While all of the alumni don’t play on the court anymore, they have gone on to have successful careers in other fields because of “the 40-year plan” and the opportunities that a Michigan degree has opened up for them outside of basketball. The plan is one of the tools Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico has in her arsenal when she talks to potential recruits.

Sunday, she had her examples right in front of her. Take Jennifer McLogan, who was a member of Team One back in 1971. McLogan is now a news reporter for CBS in New York.

But without having gone to Michigan, she may have never gone down that career path.

“I thought I was going to go to Broadway,” McLogan, who was a theatre major, said. “I never knew or dreamed I would be a news reporter, but my professors engaged me in politics, religion, history and everything else, and you start to become a sponge and want to branch out.”

And for many former Wolverines, that’s exactly what made Michigan stand out during their recruiting process. It’s what makes the Michigan experience for the players, something that’s more than women’s basketball.

“(Academics) was a big deciding factor,” said former player Sam Arnold, who played for the Wolverines from 2008-2012 and is currently a graduate student at Loyola-Chicago. “Being the best on the court, and in the classroom — that’s why Michigan was a top choice for me.”

The evidence of the program’s message continued down the line of former players at the game.

“Because everything is so structured and we have to be places at a certain time, and we have away and home games, you have to be able to balance school life and your basketball life,” said Janelle Cooper, who is currently in the University's dental school and played for Michigan from 2004 to 2008. “So now that I’m in dental school, even with all of the classes, I’m able to balance things very well because I had to do it as an undergrad.”

Members of older teams — such as Team One — who received little to no help from the Athletic Department, had other responsibilities as well.

“We wore our game uniforms from home to the game and back,” said Team One member Sheryl Szady. “We washed our own uniforms, and there were no practice uniforms.”

Times are different now. Women’s players share facilities with the men. But still, the program remains united today.

A strong showing of alumni at the game echoed Cooper’s sentiments on the value of a Michigan degree as well as participation in the women’s basketball program.

“I think 29 or 30 players came back this weekend, and that shows the greatness of the program and the strength of Michigan,” McLogan said. “Everyone wants to be affiliated and stay affiliated.”

While the alumni who came back for Alumni Day all didn’t play under the same coach or even in the same gym, each and every player graduated from Michigan and has moved onto bigger and better things outside of basketball.

And that’s the meaning of the 40-year plan.