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Sports-Minded Family Keeps Mrs. Schembechler Busy

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Life’s Exciting With New Baby, Rose Bowl


By Robin Wright

The Rose Bowl is just the latest in a long list of exciting things that have happened to Millie Cunningham Schembechler since she met Michigan’s new and winning football coach.

Married just a year ago August, the soft-spoken blonde described the frantic pace of the coach’s wife. “The biggest moment was marrying Bo. Right after that the University of Miami football schedule began.

“In December, after the season was over, Bo was offered the coaching job at Michigan. We were so excited about the offer that we completely forgot my birthday.

“With the new job there was the transition to a new household. The house needed a complete redecorating job, so I cut myself off trying to beat the stork. That pretty much occupied my time until Schemy was born.

“Then the Big Ten season started and now there’s the Rose Bowl to think about. It’s been one constant ‘up’ as far as I’m concerned.”

But the hectic pace of the sports world is not unfamiliar to the former nurse. The widow of a St. Louis television and radio sportscaster, she was solely responsible for bringing up her three sons for the three years before she met Glenn Edward (Bo) Schembechler.

This involved sharing the sports enthusiasm of three potential stars. Besides accompanying the boys to the major events in St. Louis, she worked as a nurse at a summer camp to allow them a camping experience.

She became so active that one of the first things Chip, 14, Geoff, 11, and Matt, 10, pointed out about their mom to Bo, then her suitor, was that she had a great basketball hook shot.

Admitting that her interest in football has expanded since her marriage, she laughingly said, “I’m probably too emotionally involved for my own good.” Accordingly, she rates herself as Michigan football’s “number one fan.”

Still maintaining a broad interest in athletics, she and the boys are also avid spectators of Michigan basketball, hockey and gymnastics. The boys are participants in all sports, from football to skiing. Their only disappointment in coming to Ann Arbor was that there is no little league tackle football program as there was in Oxford.

The new Mrs. Schembechler hopes the boys’ interest in sports will continue through high school and college, although she doesn’t advocate coaching as a vocation. “It requires such dedication,” she commented.

Sports has run over into her private life in other ways. She is a former member of the St. Louis Pinchhitters Association, a group of wives connected with baseball who work on projects to benefit retarded and handicapped children.

As soon as her life settles down to a normal pace here, she hopes to spend time working for an organization with a similar objective.

Outside of her interest in athletics, Mrs. Schembechler’s favorite past-time is collecting antiques and refinishing old furniture. Her skill is well-evidenced in their attractive new residence.

Her main concern right now, though, is with the new baby, Glenn Edward III, nicknamed “Schemy.” Born Sept. 24, the baby has fulfilled Bo and the other boys’ desire for an additional male in the family, despite the mother’s preference for a “Sally.”

Mrs. Schembechler described the baby’s reception. “The boys never talked about a girl. They were especially excited when I teasingly told them a couple of weeks before Schemy was born that should the baby be a boy, I had decided to keep him. The boys have really spoiled him; Schemy’s like a toy to them.

“And, of course, this is Bo’s first child, he was glad the baby was a boy. I don’t think he really ever wanted a girl,” she added.

Schemy has already become involved in Michigan football. Each football Saturday, he wears a maize and blue jumpsuit for good luck. The only time he didn’t wear it was during the Michigan State game.

His mother explained that he has outgrown the little suit so that it won’t even snap anymore. “He just lies in it until the games are over, then the sitter has to take it off because it’s so tight.”

Mrs. Schembechler added that the coach also partakes in superstition. “Bo has a rather ragged pair of trousers that he has worn every time Michigan has won.

“Sunday when I went down to do the wash, I found them soaking wet and the entire seat was ripped out. When I asked him when and how it happened he said they ripped during the fir quarter of the Ohio State game.

“He’s so superstitious about those pants that he left them on throughout the game even though his windbreak didn’t cover the damage.

“Now I have to get them repaired in time for the Rose Bowl,” she added.

Although she does not have any good luck ritual, Mrs. Schembechler explained that she prays the team will play a good game, because “if they play their type of quality football, they won’t be beat.”

The entire Schembechler family had adopted football as a way of life. The first inkling an outsider has of the family interest is the astroturf welcome mat outside their front door. Astroturf, a synthetic grass, is a variation of the new Tartanturf floor that covers the Michigan stadium.

And the boys’ first question after coming home from school is not “what’s there to eat?”, but rather “where’s Michigan in the ratings this week?” They proudly sport blue windbreakers with Michigan written across the back.

Mrs. Schembechler, who agreed that the family doesn’t get to see as much of Bo during the season as they’d like, does her part by shopping for him. “I never thought it’d come to this,” she explained, “but last week I had to buy shoes for him. On the second try we got him fitted.”

But there are no complaints. “We love Ann Arbor and Big Ten football. We were given a wonderfully warm reception here. Ann Arbor has so many opportunities to offer, especially for the children. I just regret that we haven’t had the chance to meet more people. In Oxford we knew almost everyone, but Ann Arbor is so much bigger.”

Mrs. Schembechler pointed out that seven of the coaches from Miami had moved to Michigan with Bo. “The result is that we brought our own community with us. We’re like a very close family.”

She also attributed part of the team’s success to the coaches’ solidarity. “Their loyalty and dedication have made it easier for Bo.”

She went on to list the effort of the athletic department, and the students, faculty, city and state as a major factor in the success. “The unity and hard work of each of these groups has made us real proud to be associated with a fine institution like Michigan.”

Michigan’s co-championship and the Rose Bowl invitation has made her life even more hectic. Her husband has speaking engagements book solidly until the family and team leaves for Pasadena, so she must again act as mother and father.

But again she has no complaints. “I don’t mind making that type of sacrifice because he’s been completely dedicated to his job. I’m glad to see him rewarded for his work.

“I wouldn’t want it any other way. It has made life so exciting.”