After graduating at the top of his class from Linden High School in 2005, Tim walked on to the Michigan football team, appeared in 32 games, earned a scholarship and became a three-time Academic All-Big Ten player. He now lives in Manhattan and works as an Account Executive at IBM. Before meeting his clients for dinner this Tuesday, Tim was nice enough to take a few minutes to talk about his Michigan experiences and answer several reader
Mind over matter: “I started developing that at a younger age because when I was younger I was overweight and wasn’t that good at sports. But it never bothered me; it made me want to get better. I learned how to workout and take care of myself. And then I was an in-betweener during the recruiting process. . . . So I keep that chip, and I think it really helps me out – knowing that you have to go out and earn it.”
Unexpected opportunity: “I was not serious about playing college football until I started getting invitations to all these camps, and I was better than the kids I was playing against, so I was like, ‘I guess I am good enough to do this.’ But really I’m kind of secretly a nerd. I was really focused on academics and wanted to make sure I got into a good school. I was taking trips and getting offers from MAC schools. Then it came to a point where the former Director of Football Operations knew my high school coach and was like, ‘we can’t guarantee anything, but you’ve got a spot at practice if you want to come to Michigan,’ and I can’t imagine going to a different school.”
Walk-on nation: “First of all, I’m very proud to be a walk-on, and I make sure that everyone knows that I’m very, very proud to be a walk-on. I think you find that most of the guys at Michigan really are. It’s funny, we called our group walk-on nation. It [the name] is still going now, and it came before me. But you go through some different stuff as a walk-on. When you come in, you’re scared because you have no clue what you’re getting into. First of all, you need to get into school by yourself. And you don’t have a coach who brought you in, and not much is expected of you. Not to take anything away from anyone on the team, because honestly you couldn’t have a football program without walk-ons. I mean, it would be impossible to have a practice without walk-ons. And I’ve always kind of kept a chip on my shoulder. I just refused to feel different, and I just never felt out of place.”
We’re not in Linden anymore: “My first two years when I came to Michigan, I was on the scout team, and I went against Jake Long every single day in practice. I just had to learn to use every bit of my god given ability, and there’s no better person to go against than that. . . . In terms of the recent years before I came in, Linden was terrible at football. It wasn’t really until the class two grades in front of me who I played with – that was really the first class that was a winning class. It was kind of the tipping point* at Linden in terms of winning tradition. Ever since then we’ve won a championship almost every year. And ever since the two grades ahead of me and on, there have been several players besides me who have gone on to play Division II football and whatnot.”
A team approach: “There’s a new way that businesses are hiring now. I work with some guys who played football that were hired with me. It’s a pretty selective hiring group, and I’d say that 30% of them were athletes. I really see companies understanding that they need people who can work work well as a team. . .Every single day I’m interlinked with at least 25 different people dispersed throughout different teams in my company who I rely on and who rely on me. So it goes back to the accountability thing, and especially when someone is from a school like Michigan, they have that instilled in them already – it’s not something they have to teach them.”
*Tim North recommending readings: The Tipping Point and Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.