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Ufer Would Be Proud Of His 'Family'

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The Ann Arbor News

Ufer would be proud of his 'family'

It would’ve been worth the price of admission just to hear former University of Michigan hockey coach A1 Renfrew tell Bennie Oosterbaan stories.

But Monday at Barton Hills Country Club, you also got former quarterback Fritz Seyferth sharing a bittersweet moment from the week prior to Bo Schembechler’s death, about how he and his coach sat in a hospital cafeteria while visiting a terminally ill Tom Slade.

When the subject turned to mortality, Bo growled: “I’m not going to die.”

Then, as the 60th annual Bob Ufer Quarterback Club banquet grew late, Shana Welch got up to speak.

That name certainly doesn’t connect with you the way Seyferth, Renfrew, Oosterbaan or Bo might, not even if you’re a University of Michigan fan, but she’s as tough as any of them.

Welch proved that by playing her senior season with a damaged rotator cuff. The injury was so painful the captain almost never practiced with the Michigan water polo team - “Yes, we have a water polo team here!” she joked - and had to pull herself out of the pool with one arm.

She owns every scoring record at Michigan in her sport, coach Matt Anderson said in introducing her. Welch, like almost everyone who spoke, said little about herself, but she brought the evening together, connecting those in their 80s to the 20-something seniors being honored.

“It hits you,” she said, “I’m part of this forever. It’s a lifelong thing. Just becoming part of an amazing family, that’s something no one can ever take from you.”

It’s a big word, family, one that’s sometimes thrown around a bit too lightly. But listening to the nine senior athletes honored Monday, and the men and women who keep the legacy of legendary Michigan broadcaster Bob Ufer alive through a scholarship fund, it was obvious that the term wasn’t being stretched.

This was a family, telling stories the way any family would when it gets together for a big annual event.

The difference is, this family recruits. Monday’s event - in addition to honoring a small group of senior athletes for their accomplishments on and off the field, as well as Ufer’s memory - raises money for scholarships to be awarded to Pioneer and Huron High School graduates who’ll attend Michigan.

In the next few weeks, the Ufer family will begin interviews for next year’s scholarships, which will total more than $20,000. One of the past recipients, Amelia Eaton, was on hand Monday and talked about how the Ufers’ work will inspire her to pattern her life in a similar way.

The scholarships have become an Ann Arbor institution, maybe not on the scale of football Saturdays, Zingerman’s and the art fairs, but as something that makes our community unique.

An attempt at a little praise for that was deflected by Tom Ufer, Bob’s son.

“We’re just keeping up what the old man started,” he said.

Perhaps, but it seems a safe bet the old man would be impressed and honored by the extended family being built one scholarship at a time.

Jim Carty can be reached at or 734-994-6815.