Raeder's Raiders Spirit Award

College football in the 1950s was played much differently than it is today.  There were 2 units that played - offense and defense - comprised exclusively of upperclassmen.  During the 1959 Michigan football season, Coach Bump Elliot created a third unit of sophomores led by J. Paul Raeder and collectively known as "Raeder's Raiders".  They quickly became favorites of fans, teammates, and coaches because of their hard-nosed, inspired play.  Time and time again, the Raiders provided a valuable spark to the entire team while coming off the bench.  Their philosophy was Be Prepared, Have a Great Attitude, Have Fun and Seize your Moment, and decades later that still resonates in college sports.

The Raeder's Raiders Spirit Award was established in 2005 by the Raeder family to commemorate J. Paul Raeder (Football, 1957-1961), who passed away in 2004. This award is presented annually by the Letterwinners M Club to a University of Michigan student-athlete who demonstrates character, teamwork, dedication, perseverance, and intensity in athletic performance, all while coming "off thee bench". Student-athletes from all sports who have earned a varsity letter are eligible to be nominated for the Raeder's Raiders Spirit Award by their head coach or appointed representative of the program. The nominees are voted on by the board of directors of the Letterwinners M Club. The Program of the selected winner will receive a $500 donation from the Letterwinners M Club.


2022 Raeder's Raiders Award Winners

Kacey Lawrence - Women's Soccer
The 2022 Raeder’s Raiders Spirit Award recipient is sophomore Kacey Lawrence (Monroe, Conn.) of women’s soccer.

Kacey played at forward in 23 of 25 matches last season and scored three goals vs. Michigan State, Penn State, and against Bowling Green in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. 

“When looking at the description of this award this perfectly describes Kacey and what she means to our women's soccer team”, said head coach Jennifer Klein. “She has a team-first mentality, shows and displays dedication, perseverance, and intensity in everything that she does.”

Of the 23 games that Kacey played in the 2021 season she made one start, the rest coming off the bench.  She thrived in that role and was the spark for the team in every game that she played. Kacey’s energy, work rate, and willingness to do what the team needed.

In her 550 minutes in the pitch in reserve, Kacey never complained or asked for more and saw her contribution as valuable.  Her consistent energy and drive every time she stepped on the field earned her the trust of her teammates and her coaches.  Her commitment to making herself and, most importantly, her teammates better every day is the embodiment of Raeder’s Rader Spirit Award.

Kacey was a member of a team that recorded on of its best seasons in program history, highlighted by a Big Ten Tournament championship, an NCAA Elite Eight appearance and an 18-4-3 overall record. For her efforts in the classroom, Kacey was named a 2021 Academic All Big-Ten. With this recognition, Kacey becomes the women’s soccer recipient of the Raeder’s Raider Spirit Award since Katie Bohard was selected in 2007.

Jack McCurdy - Men's Swim & Dive
One of our 2022 recipient is Jack McCurdy (Fort Wayne, IN) of Men’s Swimming & Diving. Jack has spent his first 3 years at Michigan epitomizing what it means to be there for your Team. Rather than turn inward when competition, practice, and even life are beating him down, Jack turns to building others up.

Jack displays a unique style of grit that has propelled him to helping the team’s success to become the 2020-21 Big Ten Champions and beyond. Instead of silently struggling through hardships with gritted teeth, Jack’s amazing ability to open himself up to others in those moments of difficulty has a way of bringing together and motivating everyone, including himself. Jack’s own words of “Mind is Tired. Body is in Shambles. But Spirits are High!” are highlighted by Swim & Diving Assistant Coach Sam Wensman as how Jack demonstrates his persistence to not only reach his own goals, but to bring everyone else up with him too.

Jack, who will be returning to Michigan in the Fall of 2023 as a senior and a Team Captain is studying in the School of Kinesiology. He is an Academic All Big Ten and Michigan Academic Achievement award winner. He keeps his schedule full by also giving back to future generations at Michigan swim camps, and finding time for internship opportunities and community service.

Raeder's Raiders Award Winners
2022    Kacey Lawrence, Women's Soccer and Jack McCurdy, Men's Swim & Dive
2021    Austin Davis, Men's Basketball
2020    Max Wagner, Men's Track & Field
2019    Maddy Abbott, Volleyball and Isiah Livers, Men's Basketball
2018    Sam Piazza, Ice Hockey
2017    Ally Davis, Volleyball
2016    Nick Renberg, Men's Cross Country
2015    Carly Warner, Volleyball
2014    Spike Albrecht, Men's Basketball
2013    April Newberry, Women's Crew
2012    Michelle McMahon, Volleyball
2011    Shawn Hunwick, Ice Hockey
2010    Courtney Boylan, Women's Basketball
2009    C.J. Lee, Men's Basketball
2008    Vanessa Sekhon, Field Hockey
2007    Katie Bohard, Women's Soccer
2006    Candace Gay, Volleyball

Only head coaches and their designees may nominate student-athletes for consideration of the Raeder's Raiders Award.  All submissions must be made using the the official nomination form, found HERE, and received no later than March 15, 2023.  

Please direct any questions to the Nominations & Awards Committee of the Letterwinners M Club via email at letterwinnersmclub@umich.edu.