Harbaugh, Athletes Raise Awareness for Mental Health at Mock Rock

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By Rachel Lenzi

Jim Harbaugh is a tough critic.

Not just of his football team at Michigan, but also of Michigan’s athletes. But not when they’re on the field or on the court. Instead, Harbaugh took aim at their dancing and musical talents.

Tuesday night at the University of Michigan’s Power Center for the Performing Arts, Michigan’s third-year football coach and his wife, Sarah, were judges for Michigan’s Mock Rock, an annual performance event featuring Michigan athletes that’s part lip-sync, part talent contest and part dance-off.

And the Harbaughs got interactive. They judged the Michigan hockey team’s performance, complete with glittery tights and a choreographed dance routine to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” Harbaugh gave the hockey team an eight out of maximum 10 points.

“Their precision was off,” Harbaugh quipped.

At one point in the night, Harbaugh got up from the judges’ table and pumped his fists to One Direction’s 2011 hit song “What Makes You Beautiful,” at the urging of a member of the Michigan women’s rowing team.

“I loved it when she came out here and danced with Jim,” Sarah Harbaugh said after the performance. “That was embarrassing.”

But Mock Rock didn’t just showcase Harbaugh. Mock Rock showcases Michigan’s athletes in an artistic realm — hockey player Cooper Marody serenaded an audience member to an acoustic ballad, while Michigan’s women’s lacrosse team performed a choreographed dance routine to a hip-hop mix that included music by Bruno Mars, DMX and House of Pain.

Furthermore, Mock Rock has a charitable impact in the Ann Arbor community. Michigan’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has hosted Mock Rock since 1999, and this year, Mock Rock addressed the topic of mental health. The beneficiary of this year’s event, Fresh Start Clubhouse, is an Ann Arbor-area organization that focuses on wellness recovery within a community structure, for adults who have mental illnesses, such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

“We help people get back to work, go to school and live meaningful lives,” Fresh Start director Summer Berman told the audience. “To do the things that everybody here wants to be able to do. We believe in the philosophy that everybody needs to belong.

“The sense of mattering, and that you are a part of something bigger than yourself, is what we’re really about.”

Drake Johnson, who plays football and runs track at Michigan, co-hosted Mock Rock with Emily Klueh, a clinical athletic counselor and a program coordinator for Athletes Connected, a mental-health initiative involving Michigan’s student-athletes. Johnson saw a value addressing mental health during an otherwise relaxed event.

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