Wednesday, August 20, 2008
The Michael Phelps - Ann Arbor Connection
Michael Phelps called Ann Arbor home for the past four years leading up to his incredible accomplishments in Bejing. The fact that he trained here is pretty neat in and of itself, but deeper than that, the fact that he trained here was indicative of the stimulating vitality of Ann Arbor that makes this town such a great place to live and work.
Here's what I'm trying to explain. I came to Ann Arbor ten years ago to join a company (Borders) that was born in Ann Arbor, and at the time was going through it's greatest growth period in it's history. That was just one piece of Ann Arbor. The town is dominated by the University of Michigan, and the accomplishments of it's staff, students, and alumni are too numerous to mention. This sense of accomplishment, achievement, and striving to be the "Leaders and the best" permeates through the town, and gets into your blood. After being in Chicago for forty years, Ann Arbor has gotten into my blood. It is encouraging, uplifting, and inspirational to live in a place where you can watch others grow to their best potential.
I have had multiple opportunities to relocate to other areas of the country, and to even return to Chicago. I have chosen to stay in the area despite the struggling economy and housing market, and despite all the doomsayers who feel that Michigan is a dead, rust-belt state.
The Ann Arbor and Michigan that I have come to know is a vibrant area, populated by people who know adversity, deal with adversity, and overcome adversity to maximize their potential, and become the best that they can be. It is epitomized by Phelps and other world class athletes like Tom Brady, Kara Lynn Joyce, Alison Gregorka, and others. While they all have an unquestionable commitment inside themselves, it cannot be denied that a part of their successes come from the Ann Arbor environment.