Men's Basketball

Region moms celebrate their sons' Final Four run

2013-04-03T20:30:00Z 2013-04-09T22:57:05Z Region moms celebrate their sons' Final Four runSteve Hanlon steve.hanlon@nwi.com, (219) 933-4198 nwitimes.com

All of America will be watching. Likely half the world will be eyeballing Saturday's NCAA Final Four at Atlanta's Georgia Dome. The greatest percentage will care about the game's outcomes.

That's where the money is. That's where the sizzle sits.

There are three ladies from Northwest Indiana who will be wearing maize and blue and cheering on the Michigan Wolverines as they play Syracuse at 5 p.m.

Yes, they care about Big Blue winning. But like most moms of athletic kids, that isn't priority No. 1.

"You never stop being a mom," said Shantelle Clay-Erving, mother of Glenn Robinson III, a Michigan freshman and Lake Central High School graduate.

"We've spent most of our years making sure they had their shoes and socks," said Tammy Albrecht, mother of freshman Spike Albrecht, a Crown Point High School graduate.

"I've taken him to thousands and thousands of practices," said Chesterton's Valerie McGary, mother of Chesterton native Mitch McGary, also a Michigan freshman. "I've driven a million miles in my car. I've driven a million miles this season."

The run this Michigan team has made has been historic. But to have three region families connected by their sons and school song has been off the charts.

The Big 3 — Robinson, McGary and Albrecht — played together for multiple years with the SYF AAU program. So the women have known each other long before this wild ride started.

That's what has made this trip to Dixie so special and why the families will sit together and cheer, just like they have all season.

In Sunday's 79-59 victory over Florida to send the Wolverines to the Final Four, it was Northwest Indiana's addition to the roster that led the national highlight shows.

Robinson had two monster dunks that were exclamation points to the victory. McGary scored 11 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and his power moves around the bucket were game-changing.

And Albrecht's steal and Jordan-like shovel layup started a run that has yet to end.

"It's surreal," Valerie McGary said Tuesday night at The Times. "It's the biggest ride of our lives. We never expected it. It's been so much fun. A lot of crying."

"And a lot of prayer," Clay-Erving added.

"It's unbelievable," Tammy Albrecht said. "It's been a dream of these boys going to the Final Four. Spike loves Mitch and Glenn so much. Who ever would have thought it?"

"Do you really think?" Clay-Erving asked.

All three of these ladies don't put themselves above other mothers who are driving children to youth soccer, 14-under softball or Pop Warner football practices.

Fathers often get the acclaim when their sons or daughters rise in athletics. While the dads are getting high-fives from the other fathers, it's often the moms who are getting the bottled water, Band-Aids and Tylenol.

"They didn't get there by themselves," Clay-Erving said. "We helped. When they come home with stress, we're the ones taking care of that. That's where prayer comes in."

"I have to make sure Spike has his socks and underwear," Tammy Albrecht added.

"I worry about all of it," Valerie McGary said. "The wins and losses. The academics. The social things. I'm a mom. I worry about everything."

After missing 66 prep school games when Mitch McGary played at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire before Ann Arbor, Valerie McGary and her husband, Tim, have gone to every game possible.

So when her son has a bag of laundry on some visits, it's no big deal.

The excitement shared by these friends is bubbling. They laughed and spoke about a video they saw where the Wolverines were doing the Harlem Shuffle on the jet ride home from Dallas.

This weekend is not just basketball. There are concerts, celebrity showcases, dinners, 3-point contests and many other cultural events.

The airline tickets and hotel rooms have been purchased. Three sets of eyes will be watching every play. Yes, they want Michigan to win. But ...

"We're still going to be moms," Clay-Erving said.

"That's what we are," Albrecht added.

Then they all finished the conversation with a resounding, "Go Blue."

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