Tina and I were able to take a three day trip to Detroit/Ann Arbor this past week, and we had an awesome time. Tina’s family has some business in the area, and the Park family decided to rendezvous there as Tina’s grandma and aunt also arrived from South Korea.
I must say, I really love my in-laws. They’re all really wonderful people whom I love to hang out with.
Anyhow, here are some pics:
Tina’s grandmother and aunt came from Seoul, and it was great to celebrate her birthday in a nice, intimate dinner with the Parks. Props to The Henry Hotel for a delectable evening – possibly the best meal I’ve ever had.
While in the area, Tina and I also had a chance to hang out with an old seminary friend, Eric and Sara Russ (and their four adorable kids Conor, Joel, Lauren, and Eli!). Eric and Sara are tremendous leaders, and they were part of the founding team of Mack Avenue Community Church in Detroit, which is a church that is doing some really cool to stuff to serve and revitalize a community with gospel love. If you’re ever in Detroit, you should check out what they’re doing.
Few people know this, but Eric had a big part in me going to Gordon-Conwell. I was originally going to attend Westminster Philly, but then I was introduced to Eric. My life may have been much different. Crazy.
Anyone who knows Eric will talk about what an infectious leader he is, and I’m grateful to know the guy. Eric and Sara really inspire me, and their kids are pretty dang sweet.
Lastly, we had a chance to go to The Big House in Ann Arbor to watch the Michigan Wolverines take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in UMich’s homecoming game. Tina’s parents went to Michigan for grad school, and they hold such fond memories of their time there, including the football games.
David told me that when they were younger, Dad Park used to take them to sports bars to watch Michigan games while they lived in Houston (Tina adds, “they were family friendly sports bars”). Hence, the crazy passion David and Tina hold for U of M. Every Saturday, Tina asks me for the U of M score, and she almost always wants to watch the team when they’re on TV (this can be annoying when Michigan is playing during the same time that Cal is playing).
Now, keep in mind that Tina went to Northwestern, another Big-Ten school. It’s safe to say that Tina’s allegiances are much stronger for the Wolverines than the Wildcats.
I was pretty excited to go to a game, but the experience was actually different than what I expected… here are some of my thoughts:
1. The Big House is BIG, very BIG – I was absolutely astounded at how many people there were at the game (112,784). It was nuts. There were so many people.
And I’m not talking about fair-weather fans – these folks of all ages were dressed from head to toe in Michigan gear.
I came to realize why everyone else around the country thinks the Pac-10 football experience is so weak… I can’t imagine any other Pac-10 school (maybe the teams in the Northwest?) matching the large “main event” like atmosphere at the Big House.
Don’t get me wrong, I probably still prefer going to games at Cal at Memorial Stadium for a lot of reasons, but man, the whole city of Ann Arbor is all-Blue-all-the-time, and they all show up every week at the Big House.
2. With that said, UMich fans are a little too “nice” for me – Now, keep in mind I’m coming from NYC, so I hear a lot of trash-talking at sporting events.
Also, at Cal, the fans are pretty mean to fans of opposing teams, and we’re ruthless to anyone wearing red at the stadium.
This is part of what I loved about Cal – we weren’t that great in my day, but yes, we talked lots of trash. This is part of carrying a tormented psyche.
At the Michigan game, the Iowa fans were being all brash and giving each other high fives before the game. And no one said anything to them. I was appalled.
This niceness continued during and after the game. Obviously it hurt more after Iowa won, and even then, no one was being mean to the Iowa folks.
Now, I’m not saying that Michigan fans are less passionate – they’re just less mean. This was surprising to me.
3. I had a great time – good enough for me to root for Michigan from here on out – All in all, it was a great experience. The fans are passionate, the band and student section are awesome, and it definitely feels like the place to be every Saturday.
What was most special to me was seeing Dad Park, David, and Tina root for their team with such gusto, going bonkers with every touchdown and sack, and nearly dying whenever there was a turnover or bonehead play by the Wolverines.
I was more than amused. And although I refused to buy any Michigan gear (for now), I looked at all the pained expressions on my wife’s face after Iowa’s clinching field goal, and I couldn’t help but feel love for her, her family, and her team.
And thus, I love the University of Michigan. Go Blue.