The Michigan hockey team just qualified for its first Frozen Four since 2003. This is a big deal. There’s a lot of pressure on the Wolverines to bring a National Championship back to Ann Arbor. But there’s a lot of pressure on you students, too.

Go to Denver.

Don’t take this opportunity for granted. Take it from someone with firsthand experience.

Go to Denver.

A 17-hour drive? Sure, that sucks. But what college experience is complete without an impromptu road trip?

A $300 flight? Money doesn’t grow on trees, but a little pouting to mom and dad can do wonders every now and then.

And come on, it’s not that much money.

It’s less than 20 cents a day if you spread it throughout a four-year college career. So even though I may sound like a Sally Struthers “Donate money to African Children” commercial, don’t let my message go unheard.

Go to Denver.

You might not have another chance.

I was spoiled as a freshman. What appeared to be a lost football season with Matt Gutierrez’s injury and David Underwood’s inefficiency ended up being the emergence of one of Michigan’s best classes of athletes ever. The freshmen duo of Mike Hart and Chad Henne led the Wolverines to a Big Ten Championship and a Rose Bowl berth, and my first fall at Michigan was already marked by athletic success.

“Hell, we have Mike Hart and Chad Henne for three more years, why go to the Rose Bowl this year?” I thought at the time. Why spend money on a Rose Bowl trip when this team likely makes a BCS Title game sometime in the next three years?

Shows how much this little snot-nosed 19-year-old freshman knew back then, because that obviously didn’t happen. And I still regret not going to the game.

Sure Michigan lost, but it was one of the greatest Rose Bowls of all time, and it’s the closest the football team ever got to a National Championship game in my time here.

There has been just one team National Championship since I’ve been at Michigan. The softball team won it all later in my freshman year when it became the first team east of the Mississippi to win a National Championship. It was a big feat within the sport, but I wouldn’t be surprised if half the campus didn’t even know it happened. I’d say about 10 of my fellow classmates witnessed it in person. I wouldn’t have been one of that lucky few had I not been sent there to cover it for the Daily. As cool as the environment was – and it really was awesome witnessing history and seeing the joy on all the players’ faces – it meant very little to the campus.

It’s not fair, but schools are judged by how the “big” sports perform.

Three years later, here’s what the Big 3 have done for me:

No BCS bowl wins. No Big Dance appearances. No Frozen Four appearances.

Until now.

Book-ending my college experience is another group of talented freshman putting together an impressive season when so little was expected.

This was supposed to be a rebuilding season for the hockey team. Jack Johnson and Andrew Cogliano left early. T.J. Hensick graduated. The coaches and the media pegged the Wolverines as a fourth-place CCHA team.

But after a year of dominating opposing teams and rising to become the NCAA’s No. 1 team, Michigan is now just two wins away from getting the hardware to prove its worth.

Don’t settle for this being enough.

Seniors, going to Denver is a must. This is your last shot at a National Championship before you graduate.

Underclassmen, heed my warning. It may not seem urgent now, but this could be your only chance.

Go to Denver.

– Bell can be reached at scotteb@umich.edu.

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