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Sexual assault activist Brenda Tracy says Jim Harbaugh’s the first coach in country committed to bringing her in every year

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Maize n Brew spoke with Tracy about her visit with the Michigan football program

A familiar face was back on the campus of Michigan this past week, Brenda Tracy. Tracy was back in Ann Arbor speaking with incoming freshmen and new coaches on the football staff about her message.

Tracy is a rape survivor, speaker, and activist trying to combat sexual and physical violence by supporting coaches and young men through outreach and engagement. Her program is called #SetTheExpectation. Tracy was an honorary captain for the Michigan football team in 2018.

Tracy’s visit to Michigan was monumental, as Jim Harbaugh is the first coach in the country committed to bringing Tracy in every year to speak to his players and staff.

Brenda has been to over 80 schools to speak, 30 of which have been Power 5 programs, so the fact that Michigan was the first to do this certainly is a notable development.

Maize n Brew was able to catch up with Tracy about her visit to Michigan and how it all transpired.

“I got a call from Sean Magee (Associate AD for football) recently and he said ‘coach (Harbaugh) wants to make your message part of the culture here so we’d like to bring you in every year to work with the incoming freshmen and new staff.’ I talk a lot about culture - how we can create safer cultures and how big programs can influence American culture for good or bad,” Tracy said. “And coach Harbaugh has obviously been listening.”

Tracy realizes that her platform, and now her recurring role at Michigan is impactful. “The idea that he would bring me in every year to make sure the team heard me and now every student and now every student coming in, that I help him set the expectation about behavior is really important,” Tracy said. “Making this a priority. He’s making sure that these guys know that this is something that’s gonna be talked about all year long. Your behavior matters and I think you gotta do that in every program. You can’t just do things one time and expect it to stick for four years, you gotta keep on doing stuff.”

Tracy spent two days at Michigan, she met with incoming freshman and new staff, a session that earned her a standing ovation, and the following day she met one on one with Jim Harbaugh.

“We talked about how I’m going to be there, I’m kind of part of the (Michigan) family every year and things we can do together, how we can work together to make sure that Michigan football stands out as a leader,” Tracy said. “I think a lot of these programs are looking for other programs to see what they are doing, and if one program can do it, then another program thinks ‘okay, we can do that too, If Michigan’s doing, we can do it, If Stanford can do it, so can we,’ and that’s how you start a movement.”

Tracy said that Harbaugh is receptive to her message and the ideas she brings to the table, some of which include helping domestic violence victims and their children in the Ann Arbor community. Her GoFundMe raised over $19,000 for this cause in Ann Arbor last year. “Sometimes people get kind of stuck in their ways and they’re not receptive to learning new things or hearing different things, but coach Harbaugh’s not that way at all.”