Athletes to perform in 'Mock Rock'

The men's track and field team performs during Mock Rock 2011. Courtesy David Braun

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- College athletes are typically goal-oriented. They have to be to reach that level.

The Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) at the University of Michigan set a goal last June when they were away from the courts, fields and matches: six figures.

It was the amount of money they wanted to raise as a part of "Mock Rock," their annual talent show that features each of the university's athletic teams, marching band and athletic training staff.

"It's one of the biggest ways that the athletic department reaches out to the community and strengthens the tie between sports and the community," said Melisa Ongun, one of the Mock Rock chairs and a member of the women's rowing team. "We receive so much support from people in the area, so it's important to reciprocate that support."

The event started in 1999 when Michigan wrestler Jeff Reese passed away during practice. The first Mock Rock raised money for the Jeff Reese Endowed Scholarship fund. After that scholarship was fully funded, the SAAC set its sights higher, on raising money through ticket sales and donations for the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor.

Mott Children's Hospital has been a main beneficiary every year, though recently SAAC has opened up to giving to additional organizations. This year, SAAC chose Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County and Student Athletes Seeing Social Change from 15 different organizations that applied. Each organization made a short video pitch, which SAAC then voted on.

"One of the things we looked at the most is how this money will directly impact the community and touch children who are struggling either physically, mentally or have hardships in life that they've gone through," Ongun said.

Each year, there are step dances, lip syncs and skits. Not all revolve around sports, though some take shots at other conference schools. A few years ago the men’s rowing team reenacted Star Wars in two minutes while the football team had two players on acoustic guitar while others sang and rapped.

Each is scored on a scale of 1 to 10 by a panel of judges. In the past Brady Hoke, Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson have all judged. This year, among others affiliated with the university, Laura Hoke (whom SAAC president Erik Braun referred to as "The First Lady of College Football") will be judging the event.

"When you come to the University of Michigan you realize how deep the tradition is and firmly rooted the university is in the community," Braun said. "You realize how precious your time is here and the opportunities that you have to give back are definitely memorable moments."