Hagerup's Redemption a Team Effort (Part 1)

Will Hagerup dealt with his fair share of adversity during his five years in Ann Arbor. His self-inflicted troubles were so serious that at one point he wondered whether his career and even his life could be saved. Hagerup credits Michigan’s Director of Athletic Counseling Greg Harden for helping do both. Together they sat down recently with GoBlueWolverine’s Sam Webb to recap Hagerup’s journey.

Sam Webb:  If you weren’t at the football bust… they are always emotional.  You always hear deep introspection from the players that get up and reflect upon their four years, their growth, overcoming adversity.  I don’t know if I’ve heard one quite as riveting the one that was delivered by Will Haw-grup.  I said it right this time (laughter).  We’ve all been saying it wrong.

Will Hagerup:  “My parents were so happy to have two college football players and I think mainly because they thought it would be a chance to have a big stage to pronounce or name correctly (laughter), after five years people still haven’t figured it out, but that’s alright.  We’ll clear the air today.

Sam Webb:  He wrapped up his speech… (a speech) that had some light-hearted moments, but was mostly serious while reflecting upon his time… he ended it on a very serious tone.  He talked about where he is now and how he wouldn’t be here were it not for Michigan football, Brady Hoke and the other gentleman that is in studio this morning, you heard me introduce him as one of the best guys I know and that’s absolutely the case – Michigan Associate Athletic Director, Greg Harden.  How are you?

Greg Harden:  “I’m doing well.  Thank you so much.  It is a great honor and a privilege to be a part of this show.”

Sam Webb:  Considering, you’ve been doing this work for decades now, and people are just now in the aftermath of James Brown’s special on you on 60 Minutes... people are just now understanding the depth of the work that has been done here by you.  It is very clear that you are a self-deprecating individual.

Greg Harden:  “Well it is really not about me, it is about the work.  The work is so much fun, it’s hard to believe how much fun you can have trying to help people stay sane in an insane place.”

Sam Webb:  That’s an excellent introduction to Will.  I kind of want you to walk us down your path.  You’re one of the most heavily recruited punters in the country; you might’ve been the #1 punter coming out.  As recruiting battles go, punters don’t get a lot of coverage, but you did.   I know we covered you quite heavily.  You came in with a lot of acclaim and there were some twists and turns along the way.  Take us through coming to Michigan and hitting those roadblocks that you hit.

Will Hagerup:  “First of all, I immediately felt at home at Michigan.  My first couple of visits, each time it sort of felt more and more like home and the Midwest feel, the Big Ten and all that.  It just felt like football.  It felt like a place that I want to be.  I think that as a senior because my journey was so great recruiting and I think it probably set me up to be a little overconfident, to have some work to do on learning about myself and learning that I can’t get away with everything.  That I do need mentorship and I think that was clear with my first meeting with Greg Harden.  You might want to tell the story a little bit from there.”

Greg Harden:  “Let’s talk about that first meeting.”

Sam Webb:  When did this first meeting occur?

Greg Harden:  “The beauty of my assignment is that people come into my office typically in three different ways.  Self-referrals, somebody shows up and says I really need to talk to you and need some help and support, could I make an appointment?  Of course.  The next would be referrals.  It could be a referral from a coach, a sport administrator or a teammate.  Then there is this other category and that category is, you will go and see Harden, Hansen and now we have an amazing psychologist, Scott Goldman.  Will happened to be in that third category and the most exciting thing as we talked about our relationship was that first meeting.  Needless to say and since Will is here, I’m really comfortable sharing because I have permission.  Will walks in and typically when someone has been encouraged or directed to come in I already know why.”

Sam Webb:  What year was this again?

Greg Harden:  “You’ll have to ask him.”

Will Hagerup:  “2010 probably.”

Sam Webb:  Was that your freshman year?

Will Hagerup:  “Yep.”

Greg Harden:  “Will walks in and I pose the question, ‘why are you here Will?’  And Will shares with me that he really doesn’t know (laughter).  So you’re telling me that you’ve made an appointment and the coaches directed you to come see me and you have no idea why?  No I don’t have any idea why they want me to come see you, but I’m here.  So the conversation started like that.”

Sam Webb:  He doesn’t know why he’s there.  How do you know what to address.  Does that tell you what you need to address…

Will Hagerup:  “I believe the comment was, ‘what are you going to do for me?’”

Greg Harden:  “Let me explain. I posed the question to Will, ‘since you say you don’t know, let me share with you why you’re here. ‘ I went into detail why he was here and then I asked him to perhaps share details of the story and Will begins to say to me….’to what advantage would that be for me to share with you what really happened and who I am and what I do.’  I said ‘what did you say sir?’  He says, ‘Tell me what’s in it for me’.  I said, ‘Oh my god this is going to be exciting’ and that’s when it all began.”

Sam Webb:  It’s one of those things, it is often the case in order to get someone to surrender you have to show some strength and clearly at that point he was looking for you to show your qualifications, show that strength.

Will Hagerup:  “It was very psychological.”

Sam Webb:  That was psychological warfare right there.

Greg Harden:  “It was because Will was real clear, look I’ve worked people smarter than you, better than you all over the country and now you expect me to share with you who I am.  I said, ‘Well Will, this is quite intriguing’.”

Sam Webb:  This was a freshman?

Greg Harden:  “This is a freshman who walks in and makes it clear to me, I work people just for entertainment (laughter).  It is pretty clear to me that I’ve got a very smart, very articulate individual who had been working systems everywhere he had gone.”

Will Hagerup:  “You could have told me that then.”

Greg Harden:  “That was for me to know and for you to find out.”

Sam Webb:  That first meeting happens… Will, at what point is that you get comfortable opening up?

Will Hagerup:  “I realized quickly that he was an individual that had seen a lot that wasn’t going to put up with my BS and I think slowly the relationship started there.  Maybe it took a few months to open up a little bit.  Once we did, I think it was just such a great relationship and I think it took that first time like you say to sort for us to challenge each other a little bit.  I think it is a testament to some of the growth.”

Stay tuned to GoBlueWolverine for more from Hagerup and Harden in the hours to come.

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