You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, May 28, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Michigan football team travels to West Coast for leadership training with U.S. Navy SEALs

By Kyle Meinke


The Michigan football team's senior class spent four days with Navy SEALs last week in Southern California.

Courtesy Michigan football Facebook page

Memorial Day is special to Michigan football coach Brady Hoke, who has consistently expressed his high regard for the country's armed forces.

Hoke became particularly fond of the U.S. Navy SEALs during his two-year stint at San Diego State, which is located near a naval base. He since has tried to instill the specialized force's maxims for discipline and leadership in his teams.

He took that to a new level last week, when he sent 22 of his seniors to Southern California for a four-day summit with the SEALs. They also worked with kids at a clinic in Pasadena.

"This is part of the growth and development of my players as young men," Hoke told the Pasadena Sun. "When they go through the game of football, there are life lessons that are taught -- them being accountable and having great commitment to each other."

Hoke often invoked the SEALs during his first season in Ann Arbor. He hosted a few serviceman for a visit before the season, and gave each player a maize and blue trident, which is an important token for the SEALs.

The tridents hung in Schembechler Hall throughout the season, and a couple players were spotted toting them to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl.

"We've been studying them a lot," defensive lineman Will Heininger said last season of the SEALs. "Coach Hoke has a great respect for them, as do we as a team.

"Of course, we don't want to compare what we do to what they do, but there are some lessons we can learn from what they do, and teamwork."

Michigan's seniors also participated in a camp with at least 80 kids. Aaron Wellman, the Wolverines' strength and conditioning coach, told the Pasadena Sun it is part of a mentoring program he and Hoke developed while they were at Ball State.

“The one thing we noticed about these great athletes and men that we were around, is that after they left football, they just didn’t know how to be leaders,” Wellman told the Sun. “They didn’t understand what a leader is and what is expected of a leader and that’s something we wanted to change.”

In a blog post published Sunday on, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said the timing for the leadership training was ideal.

"The timing of this trip also gave our seniors a chance to thank the Navy Seals for their service to our country," he wrote. "The trip took place just prior to the Memorial Day weekend -- a weekend when every one of us should give thanks and remember those who sacrificed their lives for our country."

Michigan posted several photos of the seniors' trip to California on its official football Twitter feed. A look:





Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Thu, May 31, 2012 : 2:11 a.m.

Bradey?...It"s all about leadership...that my firends, is what champions...are all about!


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 11:28 p.m.

I'm very impressed with a major college football coach caring as much about players as to provide a wonderful opportunity for his seniors. Congrats to Brady Hoke.


Tue, May 29, 2012 : 11:36 p.m.

Couldn't afford to send the band to Dallas...?? Double talk. Where's the threat?


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 4 p.m.

Thanks little brother. Good to hear from you again.


Tue, May 29, 2012 : 10:17 p.m.

Global warming is great for dudes like me with arthritis. Geez, some idiot told me if I kept playing contact sports in High School and the Air Force I would have health issues when I got old. Now almost 45 years later and my bones are creaking. There is a great movie on cable tonight, "Hatfield and McCoys". I'm in California so you may not get the same shows in Mich. I think it stars Kevin Costner. Eric Johnson, I hear ya brother but it's best to take it, "one day at a time".


Tue, May 29, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

The Seals course is fun, I bet they had a blast.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 10:35 p.m.

This article does not tell the whole story. Hoke also took the seniors on a tour of the Rose Bowl Stadium while in Pasadena. Now these seniors know for sure (in case they did not get it before) what the goal is for team 134 and what leadership role they must play to get there. Also, it was so predictable that some posters here would question and whine about the rational for this trip and how the cost for it could be justified when compared to other pressing issues like sending the band to TX. To those who spout such drivel I say "Hello"! Did you forget what team pays for all the 20+ sports team's bills at UM? Do you think it is just coincidence that when the football team does well overall cash donations to UM go up? Please! It is a wonderfully pollyanish viewpoint to think that all sports programs at UM should be treated equally, but guess what? They never have been and never will be. So in the words of the Eagles "get over it"!


Tue, May 29, 2012 : 11:38 p.m.

Will your seniors fold up when they see the Spartans on the field just like their predecessors did? YUP! No threat.


Tue, May 29, 2012 : 1:21 a.m.

Nice post, Larry.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 8:57 p.m.

Wow. Where do some of these comments come from? Anyway, I feel like Hoke is teaching his team to truly be a team, both on the field and in their later life. He is teaching these kids to be men. Great job, coach! Go Blue!!!


Tue, May 29, 2012 : 1:19 a.m.

Already did.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.

Join up and then become a man.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 8:50 p.m.

No insight from Dave Bradon's blog on about travel expenses for this trip. It makes me think twice about the Marching Band fiasco. I see the West Coast trip as a positive and am sure each young man will take ways a lot of insight. It seemed like a very comprehensive trip with meetings and some training. I am also sure this is legal with the NCAA. Let's hope trips like these are helpful and it does say a lot of good things about Brady Hoke.


Tue, May 29, 2012 : 2:50 a.m.

you would be the one to know a lot about NCAA violation's being an o$u dude an all!! GO BLUE!!!!!!


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 9:04 p.m.

Brady was neither there or teaching. That would be an NCAA violation. Geez dude, get a grip Brady takes a dump and you want to spin it into gold. It's realy nothing but a few digested hamburgers.

Eric Johnson

Mon, May 28, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

Kyle, Yes, this is great, all bowing respect to our service men who have suffered greatly and died for our freedom. And I believe Coach Hoke is a fine man who sincerely cares about his charges. Morality in action is a pleasure to see. Kudos to coach Hoke and his players. Now for the but . . . This morning I woke up early at my daughter's house and found a photo book about the earth published by the World Wildlife Fund. Beautiful photos of earth and creature. The one page forward of the book was written by the late newsman, the honorable Walter Cronkite. Immediately Mr. Cronkite's words laid out the numbers of our ongoing slaughter of other species. Ugly numbers, 100 species a day extinct, etc., etc. (Normal rate: 10 to 20 species a year.) We've gone exponential in our slaughter. I started crying because Cronkite wrote that tough forward in 1999, and as we know, it's only gotten worse. The U. N. now estimates that 200 species go extinct a day. Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich reports that we have only a 10% chance of global civilization NOT collapsing. Former NASA scientist James Lovelock predicts billions to perish due to climate change. Why this post here? It's about leadership. I love Michigan football, but given the state of the earth, if we're really talking about leadership, then Michigan's football season should be cancelled and a state of emergency declared. That isn't going to happen. I know that. When things fall further into dysfunctional chaos, it will be cancelled. The precursor was the rain called opener last year against Western Michigan. Warmer clouds hold more water. I don't have answers, but I'm feeling the pain on this Memorial Day, and I'm tired of the pretending as usual when most of know our way of life is suicidal. Not out to attack Coach Hoke or Kyle Meinke or really anyone today, but want to acknowledge reality. I'm terrified for our kids. Sports have become almost a Disney-like fantasy. Cue the Door's The End.


Thu, May 31, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

First of all, I had to know who #58 from the 1969 Michigan Wolverines was... #58 George Zuganelis Linebacker. Secondly, neither snow, nor rain, nor sleet (nor lack of them - due to global warming) will stop Michigan football from competing during college football season. GO BLUE!


Tue, May 29, 2012 : 11:42 p.m.

Whatever happened to Michigan grad Ted Kaczynski? Is he doing the statistical work for Hoke? He's about the only threat that Michigan has to offer! The football team is SOFT! Hit 'em hard and they rollover; just like the coaching staff!


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 9:11 p.m.

You're right Eric and Mammon is hungry!!!


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 9:01 p.m.

Not only is it liberal propoganda gone astray, but you are quoting Walter Concrite dude. We know far more today about global warming and carbon based emissions then Walter could have learned in his lifetime.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 8:56 p.m.

IF anything like that happens we, and our grandchildren will be long gone. As for animal species becoming extinct, that's been happening since way before man set foot on earth. It's called natural selection. You should have paid more attention in your high school science class. And global warming is now global cooling. Geez, another example of a liberal emoting instead of thinking with the facts.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 7:50 p.m.

How did the dinosaurs perish? Too big a carbon foot print? Settle down Eric, smoke another doobie. There will be a tomorrow. I promise.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 5 p.m.

Who cares who paid for it? Hokes the coach, if he thinks it'll build character and build unity amongst the team, so be it.

David Paris

Tue, May 29, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

Exactly right! To our Tea Party friends- your moment in the sun is over, it's not taxes that got us into this mess, it's corruption-in-government that did it. Go Blue!!!


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 4:45 p.m.

gotta love the commentors here. finding fault in anything and everything. have a great day everybody!

David Paris

Tue, May 29, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

Isn't it amazing how an article like this can really differentiate those who see the glass-half full from those that see it half-empty!


Tue, May 29, 2012 : 12:28 a.m.

No kidding! What hate. I guess we can overlook the millions these players helped bring in to the University sports programs by earning a BCS bowl berth last season. Now, don't get me wrong, a college scholarship is a wonderful gift, but I have no problem rooting for a program that seeks to instill these kinds of values in its student-athletes, even at some extra cost. We did all read the part about the 80-kid camp they were a part of, right?


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 3:19 p.m.

These kids will feel nothing but entitled after graduation. If they graduate.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 11:36 p.m.

In 2010, the Michigan Daily reported that the University's overall 6-year graduation rate was 89.4%. For student athletes, the rate was 75%, which was above the national average of 64%. For the football program, the Daily reported that 72% of players graduated within 6 years, putting it 5th in the Big Ten.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 8:55 p.m.

Hats off to you, #58...GO BLUE!!!


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

No one is entitled to anything in Michigan football or the military. One has to earn everything in both. I know because I played for Bo my senior year (1969), and I was an officer in the Marine Corps (1970-1973). Have you any evidence that these seniors won't graduate? You made the comment. Now back it up.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

Alright, who's paying for this? Are fur lined jocks next?


Thu, May 31, 2012 : 2:41 a.m.

The players help our university fill the stands every home football game...that is mucho cash. There is no price for this experience. Invest in people, especially the ones who play their hearts out for Michigan. I would like to say, "thank you" to the players who visited Coranado.


Tue, May 29, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

The football team paid for it.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

Thank God Rich Rod is gone.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 2:12 p.m.

just once, I'd like to read posts where we just praise our football team and coaches without having to refer to other teams or coaches. go blue!

Terry Star21

Mon, May 28, 2012 : 8:18 p.m.

Amen....but it's hard to keep the outsiders and 'not so faithful' off our site. Fright, frustration and jealousy keep them watching our every move - one of the great, but sometimes not so pleasant things about Michigan football.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

D21, Really, you are comparing a college football coach to a militant group responsible for torturing women, murdering children, rape and other atrocities Walmart wolverines are the best. I'd bet a decent amount of money that you didn't attend UofM and you certainly didn't play football for UofM, if you had you might have learned a little respect.


Thu, May 31, 2012 : 2:36 a.m.

This post is way is not worthy to respond to. Have a great day.

Don B

Mon, May 28, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

I'm a sports addict and also appreciate what Brady Hoke has done for the UM program. However, this junket is just another example of big time college sports having no sense of perspective. This trip didn't have to cost a lot, relatively of course. However, the coach and his assistants are in Michigan now, not southern California. I'm sure that there are MI sources of leadership training or, if military rigor is needed, the Navy's boot camp is just north of Chicago. I'm also certain that there are local kids who could use mentoring, and maybe on a sustained basis instead of just a CA drop-in that suggests PR move.


Tue, May 29, 2012 : 7:39 p.m.

If I am recruiting a kid, I certainly wouldn't mind having a picture of Denard Robinson from little ol Deerfield Beach, Fla hanging out with Navy Seals in San Diego...


Tue, May 29, 2012 : 4:30 p.m.

People like you always find something to complain about.


Tue, May 29, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

Yeah, there sure are a lot of military bases in MI. Or, maybe this was a great way to motivate the SR's and get them a chance to work out with some real American heroes. I'm sure they spend a lot of time with local youths through mentoring and through the Mott hospital.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 11:55 a.m.

Great story! Wonder where did Urban send his boys out to...The Taliban??? TiM

Scott Laux

Mon, May 28, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

That's silly. They get their character training at tattoo parlors.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

You have it all wrong. The taliban sends people to tsio to learn from the true snakes in the grass.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, May 28, 2012 : 12:03 p.m.

Who's Urban?


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 11:36 a.m.

Where did the funds come to pay for the trip? If the athletic department had trouble paying for the band's trip to Texas, then where did he find this money?


Thu, May 31, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

First off there there is no conspiracy. The Michigan athletic department was like $10 million dollars in the black last time I checked (and u can too since its a public instatution). Secondly the reason the band almost didn't go to Jerryworld was because it was in the original contract with Jerryworld & co that the band would be paid for by Jerry. That ended up not being the case so for time DB toyed with the idea of just selling off the band's seats in order to make another 200k but this idea didn't go over too well especially since our AD is in the black and this is a national televised, prime time game. The band has got to go. Make u feel better about their leadership training now?


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

There always has to be a cynic.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 1:11 p.m.

My point exactly, why did Brandon have difficulty in deciding whether or not the band should travel. "This is Michigan....the leaders and the best"


Tue, May 29, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

Who cares where the money came from. The football team generates millions for the school.

Ron Granger

Tue, May 29, 2012 : 1:18 p.m.

Sir, I question your patriotism. Why, I suspect you may even be a communist. How dare you question how the football team spends their billion dollar endowment.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, May 28, 2012 : 11:47 a.m.

The same place the President finds money he doesn't have.....Thank You Mr Tax Payer.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, May 28, 2012 : 10:51 a.m.

Brady Hoke is the best thing that has happened in A2 for a long time......I am glad he is here.

Ron Granger

Tue, May 29, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

For the Wolverines yes. Ann Arbor, no. Not everyone's life revolves around watching kids play football a few months a year.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 11:57 a.m.