Now that Michigan has hired Milan “Mimi” Bolden-Morris to serve as the first female graduate assistant coach working with the Wolverines quarterbacks, it has all the advantages it needs to win. While in Ann Arbor, Bolden-Morris is working toward her goal of being a coach in what could easily be an extremely challenging situation. Bolden-Morris, the sister of Michigan senior defensive end Mike Morris, began her new job June 1. And as the first woman to be a graduate assistant coach in the Big Ten, she has some giant shoes to fill but not without offering a different perspective.
Discipline and Commitment
Bolden-Morris will earn her master’s degree in sports management in May and was raised with her brother Mike, a senior defensive end on the 2022 Michigan football team, by two parents committed to discipline and respect. Her father, Michael, a policeman, and her mother, Melanie, a high school principal, raised their children on those values.
“Discipline is HUGE in my house,” Bolden-Morris explains. “Work ethic, how we interact with people — respect, love, and filter out the rest — that’s what I grew up on and it stuck with me.”
In addition to being on U-M’s staff, Mimi is pursuing her second master’s degree in public policy, adding to a master’s in sports industry management she earned while playing basketball at Georgetown. Bolden-Morris spent her first three-and-a-half years in college playing basketball at Boston College where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in communication.
“It speaks volumes to the efforts that Coach Harbaugh has made to create an environment of inclusion,” Bolden-Morris, a native of Belle Glade, Florida, said in the release. “These opportunities have been an anomaly for a black woman until recently. Growing up watching my dad coach my brother, it has always been my dream to be a part of a football team in some form, so this opportunity is allowing me to live out a dream of mine, especially working with quarterbacks. Coming from the basketball world, guards and quarterbacks are one in the same. Both have the ability to make decisions under duress, read defenses, take care of the ball, and execute with precision and accuracy.”
“I know that Coach Harbaugh and his staff will prepare me with the tools and knowledge to be the best because that’s who they are and all they know,” Bolden-Morris added. “They bleed blue! Having the ability to work in such a prestigious and winning environment will mold me to create other opportunities for women who are seeking a similar career path. I may be the first woman to do this, at this level, but I know my purpose is greater and that I can use this blessing to assist others.”
What Football Teaches You About Leadership?
Growing up in a sports-minded family obviously developed her skill and competitive spirit, but an innate athleticism and acuity were the difference in getting her to this point. She attributes the similarities across those sports to being able to pick things up more quickly.
“Exposure to so many different sports helped me, especially mentally. The majority of sports I played, I was in a position that was pretty high IQ — quarterback, wide receiver, having to make reads on defense. I was the point guard and shooting guard in basketball. I was always in a position to have to understand what my opponent might be doing so I could manipulate them in ways.”Milan “Mimi” Bolden-Morris