'The Voice' with Matt Lepay

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The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpgAt a recent training camp practice, former Badger standouts Joe Armentrout and Craig Raddatz were in attendance. I mention those names because they were the captains of the 1986 team for head coach Dave McClain. 

Joe Panos visited a recent practice as well. Panos was a captain of the 1993 team that became the first in Wisconsin history to win a Rose Bowl.

The list of Badgers who served as captains is impressive. Pat Richter, Ken Bowman, Mike Webster, Tim Krumrie and Matt VandenBoom to name a few. Others who stood out in the Alvarez Era include Donnel Thompson and Chris McIntosh, who were captains in the back-to-back title seasons of 1998 and 1999.

The list of captains grows by six this year, and to say the least, it is an interesting and diverse group.

It features talkative sorts, media "go-to guys" such as Jay Valai and John Moffitt. Then there are less vocal players, such as Scott Tolzien and Lance Kendricks. There is a player many consider to be one of the nation's best offensive linemen in Gabe Carimi.  Rounding out the group is middle linebacker Culmer St. Jean, a player head coach Bret Bielema says has made tremendous strides in the last year.

"I think it's a good balance," says Moffitt. "We've hit the whole spectrum, from guys who are loud, colorful, slightly obnoxious, to guys like Scott, who is classy and reserved." Leave it to Moffitt to sum it up perfectly.

Assistant coach Greg Jackson is a good authority on what it takes to be a captain. He had the role as an All-American safety at LSU.  In his NFL career, Jackson was a captain with the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Diego Chargers.

To Jackson, a captain "Is a guy who does things by example. You don't have to be vocal to be a leader. You do things right on the field and off the field.

"You don't have to be a captain to be a leader," he added.

That last line really hit home. I would think J.J. Watt is a leader. I would think Nick Toon is someone others look up to. They are two examples of young men who really seem to get it. I can't wait to see what kind of year those players can put together.

Badger fans can't wait to see this team finally play a game. Training camp is history, and game week has arrived.

Can Wisconsin win at least 10 games for the seventh time in school history? Can it win a Big Ten title for the first time since 1999?  The players have established their goals, which no doubt will stay "in house" until season's end.

A few weeks ago I asked Tolzien how he would define a successful season. His answer is further proof why he should make a good captain.

"When the season is said and done," says Tolzien, "we don't want to have too many regrets.  Don't say shoulda, coulda, woulda. I don't want to look back and wish I would have said something to someone who had a bad day. I don't want to look back and say 'I wish I didn't throw that interception.' Hopefully we keep those to a minimum, and make the most of each day."

Perhaps that seems like a vague answer, but if you think about it, it is anything but vague.  You never know what will happen during a season.  Key players can get injured. A team receiving little preseason publicity suddenly becomes a factor in the Big Ten race. 

Tolzien's point is that no matter what happens, keep moving forward.

Wisconsin's championship teams in the 1990s all hit some bumps along the way, but in addition to the obvious talent of the '93, '98 and '99 Badgers, they had great leadership. They had captains who made sure those teams kept regrets to a minimum, and made the most of each day.

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Whatever the team game is, For the me most important aspect in every team player is self discipline, self respect and respect for every team member. As for the team captain , he only oversees the game... If this are established there is a great possibility in winning any game.


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