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Badger Blog: Accountability, Ownership, Innovation

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In today's blog entry, head coach Yvette Healy writes about how to get ready for the upcoming season.

This week is a time of transition for the Badger softball team. We are wrapping up our fall practice schedule and preparing for our off-season. Since school started, we have been practicing 5-6 days a week for 3-4 hours a day. The team has worked extremely hard in the weight room and on the field. Now that our non-traditional season has ended, our team will lift and condition six hours a week and the coaches will run individual skill work-outs two hours a week. We'll breakdown swings, use a lot of video and game film and make any major adjustments that we need to now. This is also a great time for our team to bear-down academically, spending extra time with tutors and TA's preparing for midterms and finals. 

Our team chalk-talk yesterday focused on three words, "Accountability, Ownership and Innovation." Below are the coaches' notes from our talk. 

The past does not predict the future, yet creating inertia is one of the greatest challenges in life. I'm sure you've all heard the saying in physics, "objects in motion stay in motion, an object at rest stays at rest." If a pendulum is swinging, it will continue to swing. A penny sitting on the counter will continue to sit there, unless some source of energy appears and a force is applied to that object. If you've never done anything, it's easiest and most likely that you will continue not to do something. If you create a habit of getting up, working hard and accomplishing things, you will continue to do that. That's the reality. That's the science.

I think the greatest life lesson learned through sports is that as individuals we have the ability to break the cycles of the past and create a new, successful future. Think for a minute about your past, about your family, about your heritage. What was life like for your parents, grandparents and great grand-parents? Maybe things have been easy. Perhaps it's been a comfortable progression of well-educated, comfortable ancestors who all have college degrees, who all have houses, large bank accounts, retirement funds and college accounts to support each child. Maybe every marriage has been happy and prosperous, lasting 50+ years, and your siblings are all stand-up members of society with great jobs who make your parents' lives easier. Maybe you come from a long line of happy, successful family members.

I would guess that reality is a bit different. Just picture what the holidays will feel like with the crazy cousins, and dysfunctional aunts and uncles.  Many of us have ancestors who didn't speak English, who had no money, no education and no support. Many families struggle now and have struggled over the years. I am sure there have been a lot of failed marriages, lost jobs and hard times that have fallen on our families. 

Who is the first person on each side of your family to go to college? Certainly a college degree doesn't guarantee you job or make you a better, more successful person, but it does stack the odds in your favor. It does put you in a better position to succeed, providing you with more options and opportunities.

Just as the past does not have to predict the future in life, the same is true in sports.

Can you create something new, forge a legacy that never existed before and build something substantial that will serve as the groundwork, as the solid foundation upon which all great future accomplishments are built?

The true challenge here at Wisconsin is creating a dominant winning legacy in softball when it has never existed before. When you don't have a culture of winning to work in, it is the responsibility of each coach and student-athlete to create that environment; to search out, dream and create that culture which breeds success. How do you know how the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year or Big Ten Player of the Year trains, acts and leads if she's not on our team? You have to study it, look for it and seek it out. Look at other programs here at Wisconsin and see how national champions train.

As we transition from our fall season, into our individual winter works, the key ingredient is you! Ownership and accountability happen when you take full responsibility for your success or failure. Whether or not you are a hall-of-fame athlete, or team at Wisconsin, comes down to you. Sure I think coaches have a huge impact on your success. I believe that I have hired two of the smartest and most caring softball coaches in the country in Randy Schneider and Tracie Adix. They love the game, they are competitive, they have a wealth of knowledge and they can teach. The fact is, I think they have said most of the things that need to be said already. I think they have pointed out your deficiencies, they have shown you film on what you need to work on and they have met with you about your weaknesses. You have the knowledge, you have the drills and what you do next is on you. One of my favorite quotes is, "All know the way; few actually walk it." Are you passionately driven to achieve your dreams? Do you have dreams for what you want your personal experience and your team experience to be like here at Wisconsin? Do you have goals? What will your legacy be? What will your classes' and your team's legacy be?

I want to be very clear as we head into our fall meetings, that you will manage your own destiny. No excuses, no explanations. You are the most important person regarding your success. Every team is filled with special student-athletes that over-achieve, that break the mold and forge new paths. Every great program has a few special kids that changed the course of the program, changed the culture, set the team on a path of dominance and consistent high performance and achievement. We are looking for those leaders that are game-changers and history makers to emerge.


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