Marian’s Berlitz signs with Michigan
Marian’s Danny Berlitz (seated, second from right) has accepted a scholarship to swim for the University of Michigan. Joining Berlitz for the signing announcement were, front row, from left, his brother Derek, his mother Melissa, and his father Dan. Standing behind them are Marian Principal Jean Susko and Athletic Director Stan Dakosty. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
“Hail! to the victors valiant. Hail! to the conqu’ring heroes. Hail! Hail! to Michigan.”
The Wolverines collegiate swim team was able to reel in one of the premier swimmers in the nation this week, landing Marian Catholic’s Danny Berlitz.
Friday at his high school, amid his family, Berlitz talked about his decision to accept an athletic scholarship from Michigan.
“It wasn’t easy,” Berlitz said, acknowledging the pressure that goes with the territory when you’re an elite high school athlete. “It basically came down to Michigan, Penn State and Auburn.”
Berlitz visited all three schools, but in the end it was the head start that Michigan had that proved too much to overcome for the other schools.
“He’s loved Michigan since he was eight years old,” said his mother Melissa Berlitz. “I kind of figured it was going to be Michigan once they started to recruit him.
“We’re very excited for Danny. We’ve been out to Ann Arbor many times and it was a dream come true (for him). He’s worked very hard.”
Although swimming for the Wolverines was a childhood dream for Berlitz, it was far from an easy decision.
The talented swimmer with Olympic aspirations had as many as 45 schools pursuing him. “The pressure was getting tougher and tougher,” Berlitz said. “I couldn’t wait to get it over.
“I enjoyed my visit to Auburn, and I liked Penn State, too. But my heart was with Michigan.”
His dad, Dan Berlitz, was very happy about the choice.
“He’s the one who is going to spend the next four years of his life there,” Dan Berlitz said. “We’re all so happy that he’s made the decision.
“We saw what he could do at an early age, and we were all in. He put a lot of time and work into it, and now it’s paying off.”
After starting his swim career on the local level at the Hazleton YMCA, Berlitz quickly advanced to higher levels of competition. His lanky, long arms were always evident, and his ability to engage his powerful legs made him a potential “big time” recruit as he started to swim with various swim clubs.
Berlitz has not only enjoyed success on the club level, however, since his arrival to Marian as a freshman. He has been a one-man gold rush at the Schuylkill League, District 11 and PIAA state levels, smashing records in a variety of events.
His year-round success brought plenty of colleges calling.
But the draw of Michigan won out in the end.
“I was sold on the campus and Michigan has one of the best distance swimming programs in the NCAA right now,” said Berlitz, who plans on majoring in education or kinesiology.
Berlitz loved the people and the environment, too.
“I really liked everything about Michigan. The swim program is second to none, and I’ll get a chance to compete right away in the long-distance swim events.”
Michigan head coach Mike Bottom told Berlitz he’d travel with the team from the start. Bottom indicated to Berlitz he would compete in the 400 IM and distance freestyle events.
For Berlitz, one childhood dream has already come true. He is now a Michigan Man!
But there are plenty more dreams and goals to be fulfilled.
Berlitz is already thinking about the future. He is just a second off the qualifying time for the Olympic trials, something that he has set as a goal.
“It just goes to prove that if you work very hard, your dream can come true,” said Berlitz’s mother Melissa.
Danny Berlitz has definitely proved that.