Louis and Nathan Grodman are brothers who take the field together for University of Michigan football home games but for different teams.
Photography by Samii Stoloff Photography
One is a football player. One is a cheerleader.
One is reserved. One is outgoing.
They’re brothers. And they’re on the field in front of more than 100,000 screaming fans at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor every time the University of Michigan football team has a home game.
Louis Grodman, 22, is a fifth-year senior defensive back and special teams player for the U-M football team. His brother Nathan Grodman,19, a junior, is in his third year on the U-M cheerleading squad.
Each brother earned a spot on his team the hard way, through a tryout.
“I’m beyond proud of what my brother has accomplished,” Nathan said. “He’s my biggest role model. He works so hard.”
“I really appreciate how Nathan has supported me,” Louis said.
While their focus is on football and cheerleading during games, the brothers do get a special moment when the football team heads into the locker room for the final time before the kickoff through a tunnel of cheerleaders.
“We do a fist bump or high five,” Louis said.
“It’s a surreal feeling knowing my brother is out there playing for the football team,” Nathan said. “To be honest, that’s my favorite part of the game. Having him there makes it personal.”
The brothers’ parents are Robert and Lisa Grodman of Commerce Township.
“It’s very exciting for us to see Nathan cheering for Louis,” Lisa said. “It’s a challenge to watch them simultaneously, but we love every minute of it.
“We’re immensely proud of them. They work hard doing what they enjoy and they get excellent grades in their classes. That shows their dedication and perseverance.”
Each brother wants to go to medical school.
Louis, who will graduate from U-M in December, is thinking about becoming an orthopedic surgeon. Nathan is focusing on becoming a pediatric oncologist.
Now, about those different personalities.
“Nathan is more of a free spirit than I am,” Louis said. “He’s always happy and he makes the people around him happy, too.”
“Once Louis gets to know you, he’s more talkative,” Nathan said. “With me, even if I don’t know you, I’ll talk your head off.”
The brothers had no plans to play football or cheer at U-M after they graduated from Walled Lake Northern High School.
“I wasn’t going to play football in college,” Louis said. “But I heard about a tryout for the football team in the winter of my freshman year, so I decided to go. I’m very happy I made that decision.”
Louis didn’t get into any games in the 2016 or 2017 seasons, although he was named Scout Team Player of the Week twice in 2017 for his role in helping U-M’s special teams prepare for wins over Air Force and Rutgers.
He saw limited game action in 2018, but enough to earn a letter, and this fall, the 5-foot-11, 196-pounder is on the kickoff and kickoff return teams and a backup on the punt and punt return teams.
A two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree (2017 and 2018), Louis was granted a scholarship for the past winter, spring and summer semesters.
“It’s been a great, fun ride playing football for U-M,” he said. “I’ve done what I could do to help. I’m always trying to make myself into a better player, and I’ve accepted my role.
“There are so many details to the game at this level. And you have to make quite a commitment.”
Louis played mainly in the defensive backfield for the WL Northern football team as a junior and senior. He was on the school’s golf team for four years.
Nathan brought a gymnastics background to U-M. He was looking to join a group at U-M with his same interests, he said, when he learned about cheerleading tryouts.
Besides cheering at home football games — he also got to cheer at U-M’s game at Northwestern last season — Nathan also cheers at home men’s and women’s basketball games.
U-M cheerleaders compete, too.
Nathan (5-8½, 170 pounds) helped the Wolverines win the National Cheerleaders Association Division 1A national championship in April in Daytona Beach, Fla.
He was a member of Intermediate Coed Division squad that won its division title.
The brothers’ parents are Michigan State University grads. Their sister Heidi Grodman,18, is a sophomore at MSU.