ANN ARBOR – The “Michigan Softball Academy” sponsored by the University of Michigan Wolverines softball team is transitioning to a virtual format for the second straight year.
It has been held annually for the last 12 years and since its inception more than $1.3 million dollars has been raised for the American Cancer Society’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” initiative.
In 2018, the Wolverines and legendary Head Coach Carol Hutchins, now in her 37th season leading the Wolverines, became the first women’s collegiate team to raise $1 million dollars for the American Cancer Society.
During the height of the Coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, Hutchins and the academy committee quickly pivoted and transformed the event to a virtual format and more than $100,000 was raised.
Pre-pandemic volunteer team captains and their registered team members took part in a fantasy camp of sorts on Alumni Field (the Wolverines home), which is located inside the Wilpon Complex on the university’s athletic campus.
Participants would spend the evening interacting with Wolverine softball student-athletes and learning the tips and tricks on how to successfully throw, hit, pitch, catch, run the bases and slide the bases. The evening would conclude with a social mixer inside the Jack Roth Stadium located atop Michigan Stadium that included food, drinks, a guest panel moderated by Sports Talk 1050 WTKA’s Ira Weintraub and a silent auction.
The spirit of the academy is carried on yearly by the volunteer team captains, many of whom have been involved since the first event in 2010. They make it their goal each year to energize their teams to fundraise to help the American Cancer Society achieve its goal of defeating breast cancer.
Each year the event is spearheaded by an honorary chairwoman and this year Hutchins and the academy committee selected University of Michigan athletics beat writer Angelique Chengelis of “The Detroit News”. Past chairwomen include Holly Rowe (sideline reporter for ESPN), Chrislan Manuel (wife of University of Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel), Sarah Harbaugh (wife of University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh), University of Michigan women’s basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico, Kathleen Beilein (wife of former University of Michigan men’s basketball coach John Beilein) and Sue Snyder (wife of former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder).
So far 18 teams and more than 100 participants are registered for this year’s event and more than $40,000 has been raised toward the team’s goal.
This year’s virtual event is set for Thursday May 13 and will include a 60-90 minute program featuring Hutchins, the Wolverines softball team, honorary chairwoman Angelique Chengelis and a silent auction.
To donate to help the Wolverines reach their fundraising goal click here.
To register to participate in this year’s event click here.