It all started with the Michigan and Michigan State hockey game.
All 6,000-plus fans that were in attendance in the Yost Ice Arena had joined in proudly singing the Michigan fight song, which sent goose-bumps all over Chrissi Rawak’s body. This was the moment that she knew she was destined to be a Wolverine.
“I still get goose-bumps thinking about that game,” Rawak said last week. “I always knew Michigan was terrific in the sense of academics, but I had no sense of its athletic traditions until I experienced it for myself.”
Just less than a month ago, Rawak was appointed as Athletic Director of Development at Michigan, taking over for Joe Parker, who left earlier this spring to become Deputy Athletic Director at Texas Tech.
Attending Michigan from 1988-92, Rawak was a Communications and Sports Management major, along with being a key member of the Michigan women’s swimming and diving team.
“I loved my time here at Michigan,” Rawak said. “It was an opportunity to experience the good, the bad and the ugly. I learned a lot about myself, and more importantly, what it means to respect the Michigan legacy.”
Facing a shoulder injury her senior year, Rawak continued to stay involved with the swimming team by helping out on the pool deck. She also took full advantage of the opportunity to push herself academically, and nabbed an internship position at the 1991 World Gymnastics Championships in Indianapolis, Ind.
It was there that she met her husband, Glenn Rawak, who was a gymnast at Michigan.
Rawak explained that “taking this position (as Athletic Director of Development) was a family decision. My husband understands what it means to be a part of this University, and told me that I ‘have to … it’s Michigan.’ ”
This is not the first time that Rawak has given back to her alma mater. After graduating in 1992, Jim Richardson, the coach of the women’s swimming team, offered Rawak an assistant coaching position.
“That wasn’t even a choice I had to think about,” Rawak said. “It was an opportunity to give back to Michigan, and I eagerly took it.”
She spent five years coaching under Richardson.
But this was only the beginning of what Rawak would contribute to Michigan. After working at Northwestern for six years, and setting up an extremely successful fundraising program, Michigan called and asked her to build the same type of program here.
Rawak knows that having the opportunity to work alongside Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon will allow for a brighter future for Michigan athletics. She is ready to make Brandon’s visions become reality, and looks forward to helping improve the experiences for both the athletes and coaches.
“We both understand what it means to be a part of this place,” Rawak said. “I want Michigan to be more than great, and I want the experience I had as a student athlete to penetrate even more now than ever.”
With nearly a month as the new Athletic Director of Development now under her belt, Rawak has major goals in which she looks to accomplish for the University, which include bringing the fundraising efforts for all athletics to a much higher level.
“My passion is, and always will be, Michigan,” she said.