Making Bucky proud

By Michele Dalton, women's soccer goalkeeper

Joyful. Elated. Ecstatic. Emotional. Nervous. Excited. Accomplished. Delighted. Thrilled. Relieved. Overwhelmed. The list of emotions I feel right now is exponential!

After learning that we have accomplished our goal of reaching the NCAA tourney this year, and after the tears of joy had subsided, I felt motivation, determination, and perhaps most important: pride. Never before had I been so proud to see the "W" appear on the screen. For three years, I've watched football games, basketball games, hockey, etc. and have seen the "W" before (obviously) and have been happy for my fellow athletes, but this time was different. This time they could think of us and smile at what we had accomplished. Representing the "W" is something I've always been proud of, but today I couldn't be MORE proud. The best part... I can help to bring a smile to every Badger out there for at least another week.

I have had a good sense of what it means to be a Badger for three years now. But Monday night I think I truly learned what it means to be a Badger. On a nationally broadcasted program, our "W" came up and around the country any current or former Badger, young or old, immediately experienced the same feeling: pride. The "W" is not just a symbol of excellence, but also a symbol of unity. This unity can truly only be experienced by those of us lucky enough to have had an experience here at Madison. We are proud of our Bucky!

As Madison celebrities go, men's basketball coach Bo Ryan has to top the list. Tuesday morning at 8 a.m., Bo Ryan happened to be walking by our indoor training facility. I think Whitney Owusu (Coach Ryan's biggest fan) almost jumped out of her skin in excitement at just his presence. Paula welcomed him into practice and he spoke some words that put our position into the best perspective yet. "You have six games until you are national champions." He paused, and goose bumps ran down my back.
 
In an instant, I reflected back at the past three years: The good games and the bad, the good practices and the practices that I prayed for death to come for me. Fitness testing, running the Odana path at 15 degrees, the pursuit ("rabbit") run, running the stairs in Camp Randall, running the stairs in the Field House, 7 a.m. lifting (scooting there in negative 40 degree temperatures), 6:15 a.m. drug testing, tying Penn State, two last-minute comebacks, game-winning goals, winning the Indiana tourney, eight-hour bus rides, 120's, six-packs, "shoot and be the goalkeeper" competitions, Tim face planting in the McClain, cones, "square of death," THE MILE, running in the Shell, pre-game "DP's," Panera Bread... "team scoots," spring 5 v. 5 competitions, Paula's yellow cards, pre-game meals, World Cup... the list is endless. In that moment, the good outweighed all of the dreadful practices. All that mattered was that we were still standing and we have a chance to compete for a National Championship.

There are 258 Division I teams that are done. Their seasons are over, they start preparing for next year and can only look back at the season that was. We have been there before, for the past three years as a matter of fact. Realizing this truth and watching Bo Ryan speak, I looked around and realized that we are still alive, the seniors get another chance, and we get another season. Additionally, the fact that of 64 possible locations to play, we get to play in Madison makes the reality that much sweeter! Not only do we get to show the country what Wisconsin Soccer has become, we get to do it in front of a Madison community that has been nothing but supportive. This weekend, I'm confident that every Badger will smile when they hear our results. This weekend, we will make Bucky proud!