ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The passing of men’s swimming and diving student-athlete Ian Miskelley last September came as a shock to the University of Michigan community. One year later, the legacy Ian left behind is having a tremendous impact in a multitude of ways.
Ian’s family, friends, teammates and coaches have chosen to honor his memory through the Ian Miskelley Hope Scholarship, the Be Better Mental Wellness Center in his hometown of Holland, Mich., and an on-campus initiative — the Intercollegiate Athlete Network, or IAN — that aims to create a peer-to-peer network, expanding and deepening the level of mental health education.
IAN – Intercollegiate Athlete Network
Back in Ann Arbor, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) mental health chair and current rowing senior Caroline McGee has done her own part to make sure Ian’s legacy lives on. McGee, along with the help of Director of Athletic Counseling Abigail Eiler, Athletes Connected Program Director Rachel Amity and members of the men’s swimming and diving team, have started a student-athlete-run organization called Intercollegiate Athlete Network, or IAN for short.
“Ian was always someone that would reach out to others,” McGee said. “It didn’t matter if it was his best friend or someone he just met, he would say, ‘Hey, you’re having a hard time. What can I do to help?’ and we want to remember that.”
The mission of IAN is to create a peer-to-peer network, expanding and deepening the level of mental health education provided to student-athletes, coaches, and all athletic department staff to include not only the common symptoms and indicators of mental disorders or illnesses, but also warning signs of potential mental health crisis.
“We want people on teams to reach out to other student-athletes across teams,” explained McGee. “We want people to develop connections to people they may not have talked to otherwise. We’re going through this incredible and truly amazing journey of being student-athletes, but it’s not easy. We all understand to some extent the grind of the classroom and sport. Who better to understand one another than ourselves? Leaning on each other is going to be really powerful.”
“We are eternally grateful and are so impressed with Caroline,” said Miskelley. “She and Ian were friends, and we didn’t even know. To see her take it upon herself to do this in his honor is just so incredibly moving and we will be forever grateful.”
Though IAN is just starting on campus at Michigan, the hope is to move beyond the borders of Ann Arbor soon. “Everyone in the organization has so many ambitions to reach as many people as possible,” McGee explained. “We want Ian to be remembered and pass that along to people everywhere, not just to U-M or schools in the Big Ten. We want this to touch as many lives as possible so that everyone can feel like there’s a place for them and we’re all in this together as a massive community.”
We want this to touch as many lives as possible so that everyone can feel like there’s a place for them and we’re all in this together as a massive community.”
“It would live out a part of who Ian was,” said McGee. “He was such an incredible person, and we’re trying to take his actions and attitude and keep that alive.”
Being a student-athlete at the University of Michigan was a dream come true for Ian Miskelley. With the help of his family, the Wolverine swimming and diving family, and his friends, his legacy will live on.
“The student-athletes at Michigan are such high-quality people,” said Miskelley. “To know Ian was able to be around a group of people like that, that high-caliber, that high-character, that fulfilled a lifelong dream for Ian.”
Read Ian’s Full Story on mgoblue.com