By Jadyn Zdanavage

Michigan students, staff, and alumni alike understand the advantages of being a Michigan Wolverine: the illustrious University of Michigan education, exhilarating sporting events, and living in the college town of Ann Arbor. However, one characteristic that may be overlooked when it comes to the “Michigan Difference” is what it means to be a Wolverine after graduation.

Rudyard Kipling said it best in his poem titled “The Law of the Jungle” when he wrote, “For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.”

On the surface, it’s easy to see that graduating from Michigan provides a community unlike any other in the United States. There are always other alumni eager to help you succeed, friends to celebrate achievements with, and fans across the globe who never miss the chance to say “Go Blue!” But it can be easy to forget this community is also present when life delivers knock-out punches and fatal blows. It’s in those moments that a wolverine needs its wolfpack. Or, as it’s often referred to at Michigan, the “wolvpack.”

There’s no one who knows the strength of the wolvpack better than the Football Alumni of Michigan (FAM). As a 501(c)(3) non profit organization, FAM embodies what it means to be a wolverine by helping its members through financial, legal, health, and career challenges. This support is provided to former players, coaches, and staff through the Teammate Assistance Program (TAP).

FAM utilizes TAP to better the lives of any University of Michigan football alumni who are in need. Chairman of FAM Andy Borowski underlines the importance of TAP by acknowledging that “TAP has helped many of our brothers overcome life’s adversities, restored their pride and reminded them we are still One Team, One Legacy, which is the tagline of FAM and at the heart of our mission.”

Borowski will be the first one to tell you of the profound impact of reminding his fellow Michigan football alums of the unity and shared mission that’s rooted in the 100 year old program. “It instantly resonates with guys who played in the sixties just as much as the recent grads because we all know what it’s like to go through the trenches; we’ve all given literal blood, sweat and tears to continue this legacy of strength, excellence and resilience. FAM is simply a continuation of that passion and commitment.”

Over the past year, FAM has seen a huge influx of members and has helped many alums in various areas of their lives, ranging from dental coverage, children’s tuition payments, and loans. Just recently, one former player reached out to TAP after hearing about the program from a fellow alum. He was in a position none of us hoped he would be in, but in one that almost anyone could find themselves; racked with medical bills and experiencing hardships. Through the Teammate Assistance Program, FAM was able to help him and his family by covering the cost of his past due rent to propel him back on his feet.

This story wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the support, sacrifice, and commitment from fellow alumni that allow the wolvpack to be “One Team.” As Andy continuously emphasized, “We can’t thank our donors, sponsors, members and supporters enough for all they have given to get us to this point. We’re changing lives.” And as any Michigan alum might expect, FAM doesn’t consider the impact they’ve made over the past year “mission-accomplished.” In fact, similar to the 2024 Michigan Football team, it seems FAM isn’t satisfied yet despite some major wins over the past few years. “We’ve got big plans for the future.”

One thing I’ve learned during my time at the University of Michigan is that wolverines are stronger together. It’s organizations like FAM that serve as a reminder of the lifelong community that wolverines are part of and inspire us to make a positive impact in others’ lives. I’m challenged to live by Kipling’s words and embody what it means to be a wolverine – not only while I’m at Michigan, but also post-graduation when I’ll have the privilege and honor to give back to the wolvpack.

What Is FAM

If you’re feeling inspired and want to contribute to the cause, there are several ways to get involved:

For alums of the Michigan football program (which includes former players, coaches, and staff members), becoming a member of FAM today is the easiest way to help contribute to the Teammate Assistance Program and FAM’s other initiatives. 

If you aren’t a football alum, but remain a strong supporter of the Michigan football community, you can still donate and attend events that FAM puts on like group tailgates and golf outings. These events, while fun and great opportunities for you to connect with our community or “FAM-ily”, are primarily used to raise funds for the TAP program. Any additional financial contributions made by FAM members are highly appreciated, and further contribute to the greater good of the team and organization.

Become a Member | Donate | Join the TAP Network