September 2012 Archives

Freshman spotlight: Lenny Bloom

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With the start of official practices just under two weeks away, UWBadgers.com will introduce to you the newest members of the Wisconsin wrestling team by giving you a look at who they are off the mat. First up: Deerfield, Ill., native Lenny Bloom.

Bloom joins the Badgers after a stand out career at Deerfield  High School where he left as the school's all-time leader in both wins and takedowns. Bloom was a two-time Illinois state tournament qualifier and, as a senior, was the class 3A Barrington sectional champion. He was also a two-time regional and conference champion, and was the freshman/sophomore state champion in his sophomore season. Bloom was a two-time junior freestyle state champion and competed at both the Disney Duals and Scholastic Duals, as well as three years at Fargo.

Favorites:

Athlete: Brian Urlacher

Movie: The Neighborhood Watch

TV Show: 24

Sports team: Chicago Bears

Food: Tuna salad

Place on campus: Wisconsin wrestling room

Vacation spot: Mexico

Wrestler: Jordan Burroughs


Questions:

Place to wrestle other than the UW Field House: Deerfield High School

Why did you choose Wisconsin?: The coaches, campus, and the great academics.

First started wrestling: In sixth grade at 11 years old

Most memorable match: Sectional championships my senior year

My favorite thing about Wisconsin wrestling is: My teammates and the facilities

Before each match I...: Listen to the song "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC

In off-season training, I worked on: Handfighting and strength training

The best thing about Madison is: The campus and wrestling facility

Dream as a collegiate wrestler: NCAA Champion

My role models are: My parents

What talent would you like to have?: Juggling

Secret talent I have: I can do the splits

Dream job/career: Professional athlete

Dream date: Jessica Alba

One thing I absolutely have to do before I turn 40: Skydive

If I could live anywhere in the world, it would be: In Florida right on the beach

If I could bring one thing from my hometown, it would be: My dog, Tucker

I can't live without: My Xbox

Greatest invention of the last 100 years: Computer

What is your greatest fear?: Dying

What is your greatest accomplishment?: Two-time junior freestlye state champion

Which fictional or historical figure would you like to meet?: George Washington

Most famous person I've met: Michael Jordan

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?: To fly

If I had a million dollars, I would...: Buy a huge house

Worst habit: Procrastinating big projects

Person I'd love to trade places with for a day and why: Michael Jordan, because everyone knows him and to live in his house. He is also considered one of the greatest athletes of all-time.

Favorite quote: "Once you've wrestled, everything else in life is easy." - Dan Gable

Road Test: UW prepares for key B1G road trip

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MADISON, Wis. --The Badgers hit the road this week for a pair of B1G matches against Minnesota (9/27) and Ohio State (9/30) and will end its regular-season schedule playing six of its final nine contests away from home. 

With an updated RPI of 23, including marquee wins over Notre Dame, Illinois St. and Milwaukee, the Badgers have the strength of schedule to make a postseason run. 

Recent losses to No. 8 Penn St. and No. 22 Michigan hurt the Badgers' chances but UW can make a strong case for itself and take a huge step toward regaining momentum in the B1G race with a good showing on the road this week.

Quick Hits:
Shooting Stars: The Badgers hold a 4-0-0 record in 2012 when outshooting opponents, with a pair of those victories coming in shutout fashion. The Badgers rank eighth in the conference in shots, averaging 11.33 a match, with senior Monica Lam-Feist leading the team through 10 games with 29.

McClimon Magic: The Badgers are 5-1-0 at the McClimon Soccer Complex this season, a feat UW has not accomplished since 2008. UW holds a 27-13-7 (.648) record at the McClimon Complex during the Paula Wilkins era and have recorded shutouts in 14 of its last 18 home matches.

Year's first poll has Badgers at #23

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As the calender gets set to turn to October, official preseason basketball polls will start to roll in. The Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook gets the prize for being first.

Wisconsin checks in at No. 23 in the Blue Ribbon poll, one of four Big Ten teams in the top 25. Indiana is their preseason favorite, followed by Michigan at No. 5, Michigan State at No. 7, Ohio State at No. 17.

In all, the Badgers are scheduled to play eight games against teams in the Blue Ribbon Top 25, including six games against top-10 teams - Indiana (1), Michigan (5), two vs. Michigan State (7), Florida (8) and Creighton (10).

Blue Ribbon preseason Top 25:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville
3. Kentucky
4. NC State
5. Michigan
6. Duke
7. Michigan State
8. Florida
9. North Carolina
10. Creighton
11. Saint Louis
12. UCLA
13. Kansas
14. Syracuse
15. UNLV
16. Arizona
17. Ohio State
18. Memphis
19. Baylor
20. Gonzaga
21. Notre Dame
22. Tennessee
23. Wisconsin
24. Miami
25. Texas

The Voice: Following NFL Badgers an enjoyable challenge

The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpgGood to see that Russell Wilson wasted little time before he got involved in one of the more controversial plays in NFL history.

There's just something about Mary, as in Hail Mary, that will always be a part of this state.

If nothing else, the former Badgers quarterback showed his usual coolness under fire, and the last-second throw was where it needed to be, giving Golden Tate a chance (push-off or not).

While that was a stand-alone Monday night game, I have become addicted to a channel called NFL Red Zone, which on Sundays in the fall takes the viewer from game to game. The big sales pitch is the Red Zone channel will show every touchdown. It is great for fantasy players and anyone else who just likes to keep tabs on what's going in the league.

I am not one of those fantasy players, but for me the Red Zone channel helps me watch all those former Badgers making an impact in today's NFL.

Last Sunday I watched J.J. Watt come up with a big sack of Peyton Manning. In his second year, Watt is becoming a force. In last week's edition of Sports Illustrated, longtime NFL writer Peter King noted that he thinks by the end of the year, Watt will be the league's best 3-4 defensive end.

Owen Daniels isn't half bad, either. A teammate of Watt's in Houston, Daniels scored a big fourth-quarter TD against Denver. But I can't pull too hard for the Texans because Jim Leonhard is a Bronco. Right now his primary role is as a punt returner, but I will not dismiss his chances of working his way into the Denver secondary.

Before Monday night's game with the Packers, the channel allowed me to watch Seattle's first two games, including Wilson's regular-season debut, when he nearly led the Seahawks to victory at Arizona. It is fun to watch the not-quite 5-foot-11 quarterback continue to impress, if not amaze, the doubters with his play-making ability. I also get a kick out of watching John Moffitt and Chris Maragos.

It is much the same with Kevin Zeitler and Chris Pressley of the Cincinnati Bengals, and Joe Thomas with Cleveland. Then there is O'Brien Schofield with the surprising Cardinals, DeAndre Levy with Detroit, Matt Shaughnessy with the Raiders and Brad Nortman with the Carolina Panthers.

While I felt badly for Travis Beckum when he was hurt in the Super Bowl, I had to smile knowing his Giants won it all, and the one-time Badgers tight end had earned a championship ring.

There are others of course, but you get the idea. For a program that supposedly doesn't land very many Parade All-Americans, the Badgers sure have a lot of guys in the NFL.

Yes, I make every effort to set aside three hours to catch the Packers. You can't live in this state nearly half of your life and not get caught up in the rich tradition of the franchise. The fact that it is such as well-run operation makes it even more fun.

However, being a fan of the game in general, it is my own Sunday tradition to keep an eye on those former Badger standouts that are making a mark at the next level.

Considering there are some two dozen Badgers getting NFL paychecks, keeping up with them is a challenge, but it sure makes Sundays more enjoyable.

XC Insider: Pace picks up for Badgers this weekend

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First appeared in Varsity

Though they have a pair of meets under their belts already, the Badgers' season effectively starts this weekend.

The competition steps up for the women's cross country team Saturday in Earlysville, Va.

Cal, Kentucky and Oklahoma will all be in attendance as No. 15-ranked Virginia hosts the Panorama Farms Invitational.

Through two weeks of the season, it's been smooth sailing for the Badgers, who claimed the Badger Opener on Sept. 9 with their top runners competing and then won the Warhawk Invitational last Saturday behind a number of their developmental runners.

"We've had a good start to the season," UW head coach Jim Stintzi said. "Our lineups looked different the first two weeks, but we've learned a little bit about our athletes each time we've raced."

However, this weekend's meet opens a run of three major meets in four weeks for the Badgers. The team's top athletes return to the road next week for the Greater Louisville Cross Country Classic on Sept. 29, a meet that will serve as a preview of the course that plays host to the NCAA championship in November.

After an off week, the Badgers will be set for the fourth-annual Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Oct. 12, which is the highlight of the "regular season" nationally and includes 45 of the top programs from around the country.

"There's no doubt we've got the adidas meet circled," Stintzi said. "It's always big for us to run well on our home course, and it's our last major test before we go to the Big Ten championship. These next few weeks aver very important for us."

Lucas at Large: 50th anniversary celebration, but focus on 2012-13

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At Monday's news conference, Ryan Little was more than happy to model his Wisconsin hockey sweater; bearing  No. 20 on the back, the 50th anniversary logo on the shoulder and an "A'' on the front.

Like all of his teammates, Little would like to "accessorize'' the season with an NCAA tournament appearance; a missing thread since losing to Boston College in the 2010 Frozen Four finals.

"The past two years we haven't made the tournament and it's a tough way to end your year,'' said Little, a senior from Fond du Lac and an assistant captain (hence the "A'').

"You think about that for the rest of the school year and all summer and that kind of eats away at you. So if that's not enough motivation for you then you're not in the right sport.''

The Badgers have returned to the ice in preparation for what many believe can be a fruitful season based on the experience level of the roster.

"People are giving us a little more credit this year, they are expecting big things out of us,'' Little acknowledged. "But we don't want that to go to the guy's heads too early and get too confident.

"We've got a lot to prove still.

"That's the main message we're trying to get across.''
   
The Badgers got on a late roll last season, but it was truly too little, too late.
   
"We had a lot of close one and two-goal losses and then we finally started to figure it out towards the end of the year and we were playing pretty well in the playoffs,'' Little said.
   
"We didn't' get the result we wanted.

"But if we can pick up where we left off, we can use some of those tough losses for some motivation; just that experience of knowing what we need to do win those close games.''
   
MHKY_120920_Little_Ryan.jpgThis will be an historic season; not only are the Badgers celebrating their proud hockey tradition, but they are writing their final chapter as a member of the WCHA before moving into a Big Ten league.
 
Little is well aware of the history surrounding the program.
   
"Anyone who plays hockey is somewhat aware of it,'' he said, adding that it really sinks in "once you get here and see the stuff on the walls and hear coach (Mike)  Eaves telling stories about it."
   
As a fifth-year senior, he's well-versed on the tradition. "I've heard quite a bit and seen quite a bit about it,'' he said. "There's really nothing like it - it's a pretty special place for hockey.''
   
That, understandably, has become a part of the recruiting pitch.
   
"There's no question,'' Eaves said. "When you walk into the lobby of our office and you see the history timeline, first of all, and then you see the trophy case. That kind of speaks for itself.''
   
The Badgers have won six national championships.
   
"Once a young prospect sees our fans,'' Eaves said, "and the kind of energy that they bring to a game here they think it's a little different than other sports in that it creates its own unique culture.''
     
What has Eaves seen thus far from his players during their limited practices?
   
"I think they're excited and that's to be predicted,'' he said, "after we had the type of year that we had last year where we saw great growth but we were left on the outside (of the NCAAs).
   
"Everybody is anxious to get back on the inside. The one nice thing about this year is that we will start further down the alphabet than we did last year (because of the youth and inexperience).

"We ended up starting at a or b. This year we may be starting at h or i ... and moving forward from there. That will help us get off to a good start.''

The key ingredient in the recipe for a successful hockey season is no secret.

"We've got to find a way to win those close games,'' Eaves said. "We were on the bottom end of too many one-goal games. Part of the secret, quite frankly, is experience.

"You had 20 freshman and sophomores last year that were trying to figure it out and put in situations that they probably weren't ready to handle, but we had no choice.

"We've got that under our belt now, and we can move forward.''

In honoring the legacy through the 50th celebration of past championship teams and players, Little said, "You want to look back 20 years from now and have guys doing the same thing for you.''
 
Celebrating success never gets old.

Quick Kicks: Forever young

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After an impressive freshman campaign, Cara Walls entered 2012 as one of Paula Wilkins' premier players. Walls' dominance has not wavered but a pair of underclassmen are surfacing as formidable threats for a team that has not lost a game at home this season.

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Sophomore Kodee Williams and freshman Kinley McNicoll are two of the most active players for Wilkins in 2012. McNicoll is third on the team in points (8), while Williams brings unmatched intensity coming off of the bench, tallying three goal already this year. Together, the trio has combined for 24 of UW's 40 points and have scored 40 percent of the team's goals. 

Quick Hits:
Goal-oriented
After eight games, Wisconsin has recorded 76 percent of its entire goal total from 2011. Behind a pair of four-goal outings and a five-goal performance against South Dakota State, the Badgers have 20 goals to date, just six shy of their 2011 total of 26.

Ram(Paige) Adams
Making the most of her senior season, Paige Adams is leading the Badgers in points (10) and total goals (4). Adams has tallied at least a point in six of UW's eight matches this season, and is currently on a four-game point scoring streak, tallying goals in all home matches except for one. Ironically, the only two matches Adams has failed to tally a point in have resulted in losses at No. 2 UCLA (8/31) and No. 11 Penn State (9/16).

Men's rowing holds open tryouts as fall semester begins



The Wisconsin men's rowing team held its Open House in early September for UW students that were interested in joining the squad. Nearly 200 students attended the the sessions and began the process of becoming a UW student-athlete.

Badgers hold open tryouts to start fall semester



The Wisconsin openweight and lightweight rowing teams held a joint Open House in early September for UW students that were interested in joining the squad. Nearly 200 students attended the the sessions and began the process of becoming a UW student-athlete.

Women's swim and dive looks to make a big splash in 2012-13

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2012-13 Schedule

In the eyes of Wisconsin swimming and diving head coach Whitney L. Hite, the 2012 women's swim team is the perfect combination of the old and the new. After graduating five NCAA qualifying student-athletes last season, including recently-named U.S. National A Team member and 2011-12 Big Ten champ (100 breast and 200 medley relay), Ashley Wanland, the Badgers will look to build on the leadership of their nine seniors and improve across the board.

"We lost a lot of points last year, but I don't think it's rebuilding, I think of it more as reloading," Hite said. "We're bringing in some good freshman but most importantly I feel like all of our returners are better than they were last year at this point."

Highlighted by senior co-captains Hannah Ross and Ruby Martin, Wisconsin will attempt to make an even bigger jump than it did last season, finishing fourth at the Big Ten championships following a seventh-place finish in 2010-11, and a 15th-place finish at the NCAA Championships.

The women's squad begins its season in East Lansing, Mich., on Sept. 28, as it will swim against Michigan State before traveling to Ann Arbor the following day to compete against national-power Michigan.

"I don't think I've ever been associated with a team that's had meets in September, so that's a very early start," Hite said. "And certainly in traveling to take on Michigan State and Michigan, we're facing a great test right off the bat."

Following home meets against UW-Milwaukee and UW-Green Bay, the Badgers will travel to Minnesota before making the trip west to take on Stanford and California, two of the country's top programs, on separate dates.

Hite, who compiled this schedule with the hopes of preparing his student-athletes for the Big Ten and NCAA championships in February and March, has stocked the 2012 slate with trips to Stanford, USC and California, among others.

"If you look at our overall schedule, it's stronger than it was last year," Hite stated. "My main concern is making sure that everyone is prepared when we get to the Big Ten and NCAA meets."

Following a home meet against Northwestern on Nov. 8, the Badgers will hit the road for a dual with Big Ten foe Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio. Hite believes this is the premiere meet of the fall semester and believes his squad will bode well after a few days of rest. The Ohio State Invitational will provide a good measuring stick of where the team is and where they want to be heading into the holiday break and the new year.

With a semester of swimming under their belts, the team will train in Hawaii for 10 days while taking on the University of Hawai'i on Jan. 5. The big test comes seven days later, when the Badgers head back to the mainland to take on USC in Los Angeles.

"I feel that meet is really important in terms of getting us back into our racing mode," Hite said. "And if you want to be the best, you have to seek out the best and that's exactly what we're trying to get across to our athletes."

In what will be UW's final tune-up for their last home meet and the Big Ten Championships, the Badgers will swim against perennial-powers Virginia and Virginia Tech on Jan. 25 and 26, respectively, before heading home for their final home meet, the Big Ten Quad Duals, on Feb. 1-2. After finishing its season at home in early February, the women will make the trip to Bloomington, Ind., on Feb. 20-23 for the Big Ten Championships. Those who swim and qualify will move on to the 2012 NCAA Championships in Indianapolis, Ind.

"I think overall the depth of this team is better this year on the women's side," Hite said. "And that's how you get better. In my opinion, if everyone is improving then the team benefits as a whole."

Badgers to Watch

Diving: After earning all-state honors all four years during her prep career, Wyoming native Kari Campbell will be looked at to carry the torch in a rather dominant event for the women's squad. Senior Roxanne Fitter is the veteran of the diving group and has made huge strides as she looks to finish strong in her final season in cardinal and white.

"We are looking for our freshman to step up this season," women's dive head coach Anton Slobounov said. "Kari Campbell has the right tools and natural ability to impact our team right away.  Out staff is excited to see how she performs this year."

Backstroke: The backstroke should be a strong event for UW this season with senior co-captains Ross and Martin anchoring the group. Martin, a 2011 First Team All-American and First Team All-Big Ten honoree, will look to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the second-straight year.  NCAA finalist Hannah Ross will also be a vital piece to the puzzle for the Badgers.

Sprint freestyle: The Martin sisters highlight the spring freestyle squad. Sophomore Ivy Martin is one of the more promising second-year returners to look for in 2012. Rebecka Palm has emerged as a premier sprint freestyle swimmer, while freshman Annie Tamblyn will add some depth for UW in the event.

Individual Medley: Senior Laura Miller will lead the group after competing in the 200 IM at the 2012 NCAA Championships. Monica Stitski will also be a premiere IM swimmer, having narrowly missed the final round of races in the 400 IM at last year's NCAAs. NCAA qualifier Aja Van Hout will also be a marquee performer in the IM this season for the Badgers.

Distance freestyle: Freshman Jenny Holtzen will carry the load in the distance and mid-distance events, and Monika Stitski and Aja Van Hout will also add to the strong mid-distance group in 2012.

Butterfly: Rebecka Palm leads the way in the butterfly and will serve as one of the leaders of the junior class this season. Palm received all-american recognition last season following her effort in the 200 medley relay at the NCAA Championships.

Breaststroke: In the breaststroke, depth is the name of the game and fortunately for the Badgers they have a solid core of swimmers to lead them in this event. UW's top returner is Paulina Grawlow, while LSU transfer Emily Schwabe will be expected to make a huge impact from day one. A trio of freshmen, Anna Meinholz, Kate Criter and Courtney Fosse, will all be asked to step in and provide depth right away in the breaststroke event.

Strong senior class, promising freshmen guide Badgers into 2012-13

2012-13 Schedule

A vastly improved Wisconsin men's swimming and diving squad will hit the waters for the first time this season later this month, and under the direction of second-year head coach Whitney L. Hite, the Badgers will look to build on a group of solid returners and a promising freshmen class.

After finishing eighth at the Big Ten meet last season, Hite is not shy about saying the expectations are much higher for his team this season. Hite regards this season's squad as a top-20 program and expects them to finish in the top half of the Big Ten.

"It would not surprise me if we were a top-20 team," Hite said. "The expectation is for us to be better than we were last year and our mindset is to do anything we can to get there."

The expectation of success this season has already been thoroughly discussed and Hite will do all in his power to make sure the 2012 Badgers peak at the right time, including putting together one of the deepest and most challenging schedules in recent years.

The men begin 2012 in East Lansing, Mich., on Sept. 28, competing against Michigan State before traveling to Ann Arbor the following day to take on national-power Michigan.

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"I don't think I've ever been associated with a team that's had meets in September, so that's a very early start," Hite said. "And certainly in traveling to take on Michigan State and Michigan, we're facing a great test right off the bat."

Following home meets against UW-Milwaukee and UW-Green Bay, the Badgers will travel to Minnesota before making the trip west to take on Stanford and California, two of the country's top programs, on separate dates.

Hite stocked the 2012 slate with trips to Stanford, USC and California, among others, hoping to build his team's confidence and work level heading into February and March.

"If you look at our overall schedule, it's stronger than it was last year," Hite stated. "My main concern is making sure that everyone is prepared when we get to the Big Ten and NCAA meets."

ollowing a home meet against Northwestern on Nov. 8, the Badgers will hit the road for an invitational with Big Ten foe Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio. Hite believes this is the premiere meet of the fall semester and believes his squad will bode well after a few days of rest. The Ohio State Invitational will provide a good measuring stick of where the team is and where they want to be heading into the holiday break and the new year.

With a semester of swimming under their belts, the team will train in Hawaii for 10 days while taking on the University of Hawai'i on Jan. 5. The big test comes seven days later, when the Badgers head back to the mainland to take on USC in Los Angeles.

"I believe if you want to be the best you have to go out and seek the best," Hite said. "We aren't timid or afraid of anyone -- we'll go out and swim anyone, anytime."

In what will be UW's final tune-up for their last home meet and the Big Ten Championships, the Badgers will swim against perennial-powers Virginia and Virginia Tech on Jan. 25 and 26, respectively, before heading back to Madison for their final home meet, the Big Ten Quad Duals, on Feb. 1-2. After finishing its season at home in early February, the men will make the trip to Bloomington, Ind., on Feb. 27-March 2 for the Big Ten Championships. Those who swim and qualify will move on to the 2012 NCAA Championships in Indianapolis, Ind.

Badgers to Watch:
Wisconsin is led by its senior co-captains, Dan Lester and Michael Weiss, who both had successful campaigns during the summer as Weiss was recently named to the U.S. National Team and will compete at the 2012 Short Course World Championships from Dec. 12-16 in Istanbul, Turkey, as well as the 2013 World University Games in Kazan, Russia.

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Lester, who made an appearance at the Australian Olympic Trials prior to the 2012 Summer Games, is poised for an outstanding senior season.

"During NCAAs [Dan] was coming back from his Olympic trials and I feel he would have been really, really good," Hite said. ""Hopefully people have forgotten about him because we haven't and he's going to sneak up and have a great senior year in the butterfly and individual medley events."

All-American Weiss will look to improve on his third-place finish at the NCAA meet in the 400 IM and honorable mention all-american status last season in the 200 breaststroke and 500 free. The Reno, Nev., native will be asked to carry the load in the IMs and middle distance freestyle races, leading a team comprised of just one junior and four sophomores.

"Overall, we've got great leadership, not just in our captains, but in the entire senior class," Hite said. "They really do a great job of leading this team and they know that with so many freshmen that they've really accepted that challenge and have stepped up their game."

The lone junior, Tyler Hines, is expected to flourish this season in the mid-distance to distance freestyle events. Hines has already shown improvement and will be looked upon to carry Wisconsin in those events at dual meets and the Big Ten meet. The four previously mentioned sophomores are led by Drew DeTuits, who recently swam under two minutes in the 200 LCM backstroke and will be looked on to have a big impact this season.

Hite is most excited about his promising freshmen class, a group that was ranked sixth at the time of UW's announcement of its signees this past spring.

"When you go down the list, from top to bottom, this freshmen class is one of the best in the country," Hite said.

Among the newcomers are Josh Anderson who will make an immediate impact in the distance and IM events and John Bushman, who will make a push for NCAAs in the IM and breaststroke events.

In-state stars Austin Byrd (backstroke) and Ryan O'Donnell (backstroke) will be counted on to also make an immediate impact.

Along with the eight incoming swimmers, the Badgers are also welcoming in a pair of divers as UW will field its first dive team in two years.

"Hunter and Logan are a great addition to our diving team," diving coach Anton Slobounov said. "We are confident that the men's team will score points at dual meets and help our regular season record, as well as make an impact at Big Ten's."

The Voice: Early struggles point to open Big Ten race

The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpgAt this early stage of the college football season, it appears to be a familiar story at the top of the rankings. The SEC is well represented, with four or five other teams still jockeying for position. Otherwise, it looks as though there will be some wide open races for conference championships.

That includes the Big Ten.

For now, this proud, tradition-rich league will have to put up with criticism from various pundits and fans across America. So far, the conference has not performed well in the bigger stage games. Fair or unfair, the jabs go with the territory.

However, it is fair to suggest that this is a league where several of the better programs are in transition, from new head coaches at Penn State and Ohio State, to new starting quarterbacks and wide receivers at Wisconsin and Michigan State.

The process of change can be painful at times, and three of the four above mentioned teams already have a loss. The fourth, Ohio State, while unbeaten, seems to be far from a finished product.

In the meantime, everyone just keeps working to get better. Including the Badgers, who last Saturday extended their home winning streak to 18 games.

No, it wasn't pretty, but no apologizes are needed either. Utah State has made a habit of taking BCS teams to the very end, and last weekend was no exception.

The game reminded me of the 1997 season, when the Badgers needed a late touchdown to beat Boise State 28-24. This was before Boise State became the national name it is today. Badgers quarterback Mike Samuel somehow avoided what would have been a game-sealing sack and converted a game-saving fourth-down play that led to the clinching score.

In college football, sometimes looking pretty can be important. Other times, it can be overrated. Right now for the Badgers, scoring one more point than the other guy is pretty enough.

They have company.

Take a look at Stanford. The Cardinal is coming off an emotionally charged victory against USC, a team many tabbed as a BCS favorite. The seven-point win against the Trojans is not the tightest game Stanford has played this season. So far, the closest call was against San Jose State. The Cardinal won that game 20-17. Not very pretty, but I would guess the good folks in Palo Alto said thank you very much and moved on.

Remember Oklahoma State, a team that last fall was on the cusp of playing for the national title? Like the Badgers, the Cowboys are 2-1. Unlike the Badgers, the one loss was a beat down, 59-38 at Arizona. I am guessing fans in Stillwater prefer winning ugly to losing ugly.

At the moment, the national stage shows a fairly clear separation between the national title contenders and the rest of the pack.

The Big Ten shows a much different picture. Each week, opinions vary on who is the best team. There is talent, but everyone shows a flaw or two. It will be interesting to see which team can make the most improvement in the shortest amount of time. In what is shaping up to be an up-for-grabs conference title chase, little if anything will be easy.

Something tells me that several teams in this league have their best work ahead of them. If I am right, the image of the league could change for the better sooner than later.

More importantly, it would lead to one crazy and entertaining season of Big Ten football.

Wear the 'W' with pride

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Join sophomore Maria Van Abel as she talks about the first week of chalk talks in today's Badger Blog.

After a year of being a student-athlete at the University of Wisconsin under my belt, I was anxious to get back on campus. I was happy to spend a couple of months at home in Kaukauna with my family and friends, and then it was back to the beautiful city of Madison. We jumped right into things with our chalk talk meetings the first week of school and got a chance to look at and prepare for the year ahead. 

With a room full of excited teammates and friends who had been separated for what seemed like forever, coach Healy officially kicked of the new academic and athletic year. I believe it is so important to be reminded of the incredible opportunity that all of us student-athletes have here at Wisconsin, and our coaching staff does a great job of doing just that. Between the prestigious level of academics, quality of athletic facilities and staff, and the overall experience we obtain here, it would be difficult to undermine the opportunity we have all been blessed with. As coach Alvarez says, "wear the 'W' with pride." 

This brings us to one of the key points Coach Healy touched on- "appreciate what you are given and be passionate about what you do." As a team, appreciation and passion are necessary building blocks for reaching our goal of becoming a championship program. Of course, this can only come through hard work. This was the second of three things coach emphasized throughout the meeting. This combination of qualities can help any team develop and achieve success. 

The last of the three points coach reflected on happens to be one of the most focused on points in our program- "be a family." Leaving home and taking on the challenge of being a Divison I student-athlete is no easy task; however, with the relentless support given to each individual on our softball team by our coaching staff and faculty, the constant reinforcement of 'family' makes the transition one of ease. This family atmosphere creates something more than just a softball team that we will play on for four years; but more importantly, it is a constant and continual support system surrounding us during our time at Wisconsin. Between balancing academics, athletics, and everything else that college may throw at us, having a group of girls and coaches who genuinely care for one another makes this task achievable. 

The senior class also gave their presentation this same day which reiterated this concept. Each of the seven seniors spoke about different ways to use the all of the different resources we are given here at UW to be as successful as possible. Between academics, athletics, time management skills and ways to get involved, the seniors did a great job of making all of us aware of the resources and people that are available to help us through our years in Madison. It was a great way to start of the year, and we are excited to see what the year has in store for Badger softball!

Football players return to roots for elementary school visit

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Three freshmen on the Wisconsin football team made a special visit to their hometown of Waunakee, Wis., to inspire elementary students at the Prairie Elementary School's all-school assembly on Wednesday

Derek Straus, Austin Maly and Jack Russell surprised more than 100 students when they walked into Prairie Elementary School's gymnasium Wednesday morning. During the half hour assembly, they answered questions about the importance of academics, goal setting, and balancing athletics with their studies.

"I remember when I was younger, in that same school, some badger players came to talk to us and I was just in awe by them," said Straus. "To get the opportunity to do the same thing for all those kids was a great feeling. It's important to me to remember where I'm from and to give back to the community."

The Voice: Badgers don't have to wait for chance to improve

The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpgNo matter what you think of the onside kick replay reversal, and I have an idea what many of you believe, perhaps the best line on the subject comes from Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema, who told reporters on Monday that the Badgers "never should have put ourselves in that position."

So, after further review, it is time to move on.

These are interesting and challenging days for Wisconsin football. There is a coaching change at offensive line. That is the big news of the week, and it certainly is understandable.

There also is another good opponent coming to town. It is becoming more and more clear that the non-conference schedule is more difficult than most expected.

Which sets up quite the contrast in perceived intangibles Saturday night.

On one side is Utah State, a team riding high after last Friday's victory against in-state rival Utah. Through the first two games of the season, dynamic sophomore quarterback Chuckie Keeton has completed 77 percent of his passes. When the Aggies choose, the offense is up-tempo and features a little bit of everything.

Add to that an aggressive defense and a special teams unit that scored a touchdown on a blocked punt against the Utes, and you probably have the ingredients for a confident bunch coming to Madison this weekend.

On the other side is Wisconsin. The Badgers are in search of answers to fix an ailing offense. It probably was unrealistic to assume they could continue to put up the historic numbers of the past couple of years, but no doubt even neutral observers were surprised at what happened last weekend in Corvallis.

First, give some credit to Oregon State. It is a proud program with a proven head coach who is determined to get his own program back to its winning ways.

Second, maybe we should take a step back and understand there are three new primary starters on the offensive line (I say primary because Ryan Groy did have four starts last year, but gone are Peter Konz, Kevin Zeitler and Josh Oglesby). The wide receiving corps is very young, and became younger when Jared Abbrederis was injured in the second quarter last Saturday.

Beyond the adjustment to a new offensive line coach, it seems logical to suggest that the lack of established threats outside can result in an opposing defense to focus even more on the running game.

Hopefully sooner than later, those young guns can become established threats.

One more thing to consider before jumping off the ledge: While those of us in the media can spend a lot of time writing and talking about what is wrong these days, and while some fans do the same, a team just moves ahead.

An easy reference is the 1999 Badgers, which lost at Cincinnati, then dropped the Big Ten opener the following week to Michigan. At that point Wisconsin was 2-2 overall, 0-1 in the conference. It never lost again.

An easier reference is last year, after back-to-back setbacks to Michigan State and Ohio State. If I remember correctly, things improved a bit after those two games.

Yes, sometimes teams are unable to get back on track, and the above examples are different teams in different years. But perhaps the lesson isn't so much for the Badgers themselves, but for those of us who follow them.

I am not even close to being smart enough to know how this season will unfold, but I would like to believe there are plenty of folks out there who are open-minded enough to give this team a chance to fix what needs fixing.

The Badgers will have that next opportunity beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday evening.

Badgers receive gift from U.S. service members



The Wisconsin women's hockey teams received a special gift this summer from the men and women serving in our armed forces.

American flags flown with the 1-171st Medevac Helicopter Company currently serving in Operation Enduring Freedom XII in Afghanistan were given to the team in appreciation for the Badgers' support of the service members in the U.S. military.

Earlier in the spring, Wisconsin women's hockey jerseys were delivered to F-Company of the 1-171st General Support Aviation Battalion while on deployment in Afghanistan.

One of the flags sent to the team was flown on June, 6, 2012, which marked the 68th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion of World War II.

In appreciation to the men and women serving in all the branches of the armed forces for their continued service and sacrifice for our nation, the flag will be displayed in the new women's hockey offices at LaBahn Arena.

Having a summer plan

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Join sophomore Marissa Mersch as she talks about her summer plan and how she improved her game in today's Badger Blog. 

Having a summer plan
By Marissa Mersch

It was a great first year playing Badger softball. I finished my freshman year playing for one of the most prestigious universities in the country. After my freshmen year I knew that I had to work hard in the off season and get myself ready after coming off one of the team's best seasons in school history. 

Everyone has an idea of what they hope their college career to be like, and for me, I knew I could do better after the results of my freshman year. Our team had such great team chemistry, although I knew that we could have done better after losing some close games against some of the best teams in the nation. We have one of the youngest teams in college softball and with hard work and commitment; we can be one of the elite forces to contend within Division I. 

Throughout last season the coaching staff really began to emphasize putting in extra time if you wanted to build a legacy program. With that being said, I started off my summer motivated to be the best softball player I can be through conditioning and working on my skills. I trained with a personal trainer four days a week near my home. I knew that would get me in the best shape of my life. I was not disappointed, as he kicked my butt and pushed me to the maximum at each and every training session. Some days consisted of straight cardio circuits such as hill runs with weights, treadmill and bike workouts and long runs around the town. Other days we concentrated on building muscle mass as we pushed it to the limit with power cleans and squats. I also knew that I needed to work on my hitting and fielding, so I concentrated on working out with the best and went to a hitting instructor who teaches some of the top division I softball players.

Throughout the summer I played in games with players who were home for the summer and were also working on being the best they could be. My former travel coach Bill Conroy (Beverly Bandits) put together a team this summer made up of his former players who are playing at the D1 level. We played competitive games that tested all of our skills. I also worked out at an outfield camp with Coach Megan Ciolli who was a tremendous All-American outfielder at the University of Notre Dame. Coach Ciolli taught me everything ranging from diving to proper outfield throwing mechanics. 

I am looking forward to my sophomore year and working with an amazing coaching staff and such a great group of young women. This summer I really began to understand why I fell in love with this game. It really hit me when I was working the little kids softball camp hosted at my high school. The little girls were so happy just to be there and run around the bases. That really began to bring back memories of good times I had and the life lessons I learned throughout the years. Having the opportunity to be a Badger, play at a Big Ten school and get an education at an outstanding university is what many dream of. 

With this opportunity I have been given, I realize that you cannot take it for granted and with each day you can become better. You will only see results when you take time to improve on your weaknesses and continue to build on your strengths. The combination of hard working teammates with winning attitudes and great coaches is a recipe for great things to happen this upcoming Badger season. 

Lucas at Large: Badgers grow together heading into home opener

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Wisconsin volleyball coach Pete Waite was asked if had a "wild card'' up his sleeve. That could be one player who has the potential to impact the mix, if she hasn't already, and make everyone better. That could be one player who is just beginning to understand how good she can be.

"Crystal Graff is starting to break out coming off an injury,'' Waite said of his sophomore outside hitter from Madison La Follette High School. "We didn't expect her to be on top of her game right away. But each week she's looking better and better.''

Waite knows what Graff can do when healthy. As a freshman, she started 19 of 20 matches before a leg injury sidelined her for the second half of the season and the spring. On Aug. 31, she had 13 kills against Cal State Northridge, just two shy of her career high of 15 set at NC State last year.

Waite had another "wild card'' candidate.

"The other one is on our right side and she's from Norway,'' Waite said of Julie Mikaelsen, a junior from Askim, Norway. "She's so much better than she was a year ago and I think she's going to be a big factor for us. She's one of our offensive leaders right now.''

Mikaelsen ranks fourth on the team in kills (2.57 per set) which may not seem like much until you revisit her narrative and consider how far she has literally come as a player, on and off the floor. Prior to this season, she had appeared in 50 matches, including 25 starts as a freshman.

"Her English has improved dramatically,'' Waite said. "If you were to speak to her, you would never know that she's Norwegian other than when she's talking about her homeland.''

One of Mikaelsen's coaches in Norway had previously coached professionally in the United States. One of his contacts had Wisconsin ties, which led to Waite recruiting Mikaelsen. "I went to watch her practice and play and I really liked her,'' Waite said.

Mikaelsen was originally a part of Wisconsin's 2009 recruiting class. But there were some questions about her NCAA eligibility. "She was here two days before our preseason camp, and we had to send her back for a year,'' Waite said. "I went and watched her again and she was more mature.''

During the 2009-10 season, Mikaelsen played for the University of Stavanger club team. Her international resume is fairly extensive through her participation with the Norwegian Junior National Team (2006-2010) and a summer stint with the Norwegian Senior National Team in 2011.

On top of all of that, she has been a good fit.

"She's a great teammate,'' Waite said.

That would seem to fall in line with the type of personality the Badgers have been cultivating.

"They're a pretty resilient group,'' Waite said. "We're pretty thin in the middle right now, so we just have Alexis Mitchell and Mary Ording. And they're just troopers; they're getting all the reps in practice. Mary is getting up to speed because it's not a position that she played much in the past.''

Mitchell , meanwhile, is a senior and proven Big Ten competitor.

"She isn't a big surprise, but she keeps getting better,'' Waite said. Who are the surprises then? "Deme Morales is in the back row and she's a phenomenal athlete with a great jump top-spin serve. Her ball control has come around a lot, and Annemarie Hickey continues to improve as a defensive player.''

The Badgers have won five of their first six matches; the only loss coming to Creighton. "We're pretty much where I thought we would be,'' Waite said. "You'd prefer to be undefeated. You never want to lose. But at times you have to be pushed by the best. They have to show you your weaknesses.''

Besides the resiliency that Waite has seen in some areas, he has also seen his players "getting tighter as a unit.'' That bodes well for the future and Waite's objective to get everyone to "believe that they can be one of the best teams in the conference.''

That takes time and patience.

"But when they do that -- believe -- they play at a very high level,'' he said, "and that's exciting to see. It's starting to form, but it's not quite there yet ... non-conference play is huge for us. We've talked to the team about that. They're working as hard as they can to get up to speed as fast as they can.

"We're seeing some good things, and I like that.''

Lucas at Large: Badgers' approach is music to Wilkins' ears

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Three years ago, the Wisconsin women's soccer team learned an invaluable lesson at the expense of getting humbled in a 6-0 loss to No. 3 ranked Stanford.

The overmatched Badgers were outshot, 30-4.

But they could take some solace in knowing that Stanford would go on to win 25 straight before finally losing to North Carolina, 1-0, in the NCAA championship game.

The Badgers could also take pride in knowing that they turned around their season after that loss and made it all the way to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament before falling to Boston College.

Not only did it mark Wisconsin's best finish in the NCAAs since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 2001, it was the program's first Sweet 16 appearance in 16 years.

UW coach Paula Wilkins was reminded of that 2009 loss at Stanford the other day while discussing the positives that came out of 2-0 loss to top-ranked UCLA in Los Angeles last Friday night.

This was a far more competitive matchup; it was night and day, really.

Fact is, the Bruins didn't take the lead until the 78th minute and the Badgers were still on the attack in the final seconds after pulling goalkeeper Lauren Gunderson and using her in the box.

Wisconsin got one last shot at tying the game, but it was blocked and the deflection set up an uncontested breakaway by UCLA's Zakiya Bywaters, who sealed the victory with an empty-net goal.

Wilkins liked the way her players responded to the challenge; she liked the effort even more after learning from Monica Lam-Feist what had been said in a postgame huddle on the field.

If the Badgers were going to lose -- to paraphrase Lam-Feist -- they would go down fighting or by "throwing it all out there'' like they had against the Bruins. That was music to Wilkins' ears.

"This team is different than any team I've had in the past years,'' Wilkins said.

That was evident in the UW's season opener, a 1-0 victory over Notre Dame, the 2010 NCAA champions. Lam-Feist's goal gave the Badgers only their second win over the Irish in series history.

The only other victory came in 1989.

"Anytime you get a result against a team that has won national championships and is a perennial top-10 team in the national scene, it's important,'' said Wilkins, who won her first opener in five years. "It gives your team some confidence and makes them believe in what they can do.''

Wilkins emphasized afterward the need "to show people that it wasn't a fluke.''

She made that same point to her players prior to facing Loyola Marymount last Sunday.

"I told them after the Friday game I thought a lot of them had come to California just to play UCLA,'' she said, "and we can't lose sight of being consistent and committed to details in the next game. By getting four goals against Loyola it showed people that we weren't just a one-trick pony.''

The Badgers won 4-2 over Loyola Marymount and improved their record to 4-1.

"The biggest thing I'm happy about is that the players are committed to each other,'' Wilkins said. "I'm really excited about the dynamic they've created -- they really have a strong commitment to defending and attacking together and that mentality is carrying through a lot of games.''

The offense has been pretty noteworthy, too.

Wisconsin has scored 16 goals through five games.

The Badgers had 27 goals in 20 games last season.

"As a coach, you sleep a little better,'' Wilkins acknowledged.

The brunt of the offense has been generated among five players: Lam-Feist (3 goals, 15 shots), Paige Adams (3 goals, 10 shots), Kinley McNicoll, Kodee Williams and McKenna Meuer (2 goals each).

"Any given day,'' Wilkins said, "one of these kids is really good.''

Have there been one or two players that the others have rallied around?

"The upperclassmen are rallying around the freshmen,'' she said, "and the freshmen are rallying around the upperclassmen. It's a mutual respect for each other. Their work rate and energy is exciting.''

That's what she hasn't seen around here in a long time, she confessed.

After falling short of the NCAA tournament last season, Wilkins pointed out, "A lot of the juniors came in and said, 'We want to make a difference' and they really put the work in to build a relationship with the younger players and you can kind of see how they all believe in each other.''

That resolve was strengthened by how the Badgers played against UCLA. "I learned we're not as far off as we think we are, in terms of being competitive with the good teams,'' Wilkins said. "UCLA gave us the standard where we need to be and it's going to help us in training.''

To this end, the next two opponents -- Illinois State and Milwaukee -- will help the Badgers fine-tune their game and raise their level of play in preparation of a rugged Big Ten schedule, beginning with the conference opener Sept. 16 at Penn State.

While the offense has been a pleasant and welcome development, take it from Wilkins that her player's commitment to "defending has really made them a dangerous team'' -- one that may be capable of playing with anybody on any given day.

A summer of hard work

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Join Stephanie Peace as she shares how she used falling short of the post season last year as motivation for achieving that goal this season

Last May our team came so close to making the regional tournament and moving on to the post season. Coming up short left a bitter taste in my mouth and I used that as a little extra motivation through the long summer break. When I left Madison at the end of the spring I was disappointed, but not discouraged. The 2012 season was such an exciting experience and every bit of it made us better. With such a large returning class and so many young faces, it is exciting to be a part of Wisconsin softball.            

When I returned home to Texas at the beginning of the summer I flew directly into College Station. I wanted to watch a couple of my best friends play in the Texas A&M regional tournament. I wanted to know what the atmosphere was like during a regional tournament and I wanted to see great softball being played. With each game I watched in the post season, I became more excited and more motivated. I want to be at a regional tournament next May. I know that our team is capable of competing in the post season with the top sixty four teams in the nation.      

After the regional tournament my parents and I drove home to San Antonio, and I went to work. I was happy to be home with my family and old friends, but I ran, lifted and hit multiple times a week. I worked out alone mostly, but sometimes I would drag old teammates to my workouts with me. I focused on footwork and speed nearly every time I practiced this summer. I ran hill sprints, ladders, base running and changing direction drills.

I am fortunate to have played, and now coach, for a summer ball organization that owns an indoor softball facility. They allow me to come and practice on their field and hit in their cages. Although the facility was inside, it was no shelter from the Texas heat. The building has no air conditioning and no fans. I would usually work out in the evenings and night to avoid the hottest part of the day. I was definitely a cage rat, though. When I went to the facility I was there for hours. I would turn on some country music and work on every part of my game. I took my time with my workouts and skills; I didn't want to waste my effort.         

I spent most of my weekends coaching an amazing group of high school aged girls. They were so much fun to be around. All of these young ladies spent the summer working and preparing to play at the college level. We travelled all over the state of Texas and to Oklahoma and Mississippi. They competed with some of the best teams in the nation and in front of dozens of college coaches.

I mostly worked with the outfield players, but I also worked with the hitters. I used drills we use here at Wisconsin, and they loved the challenging workouts. With each drill we ran in practice, I reiterated to the girls and myself the basic fundamentals of the game. I reminded myself that it wasn't long ago that I was in my players' shoes wanting to be a division I athlete. Coaching helped me pick up on some of the finer points of the game. Coaching was a great learning opportunity and I enjoyed working with such dedicated young athletes.          

In my first two years as a Badger, the program has grown and improved. It has been an exciting adventure with a great group of girls and coaches. I cannot overlook the opportunities I have been blessed with and the people I have been able to share it with. Coach Healy said today that, "the harder you have to work for a goal, the more meaningful an achievement becomes." I agree. The journey to a post season tournament means more with each year it eludes us. I used internal and an external motivation, this summer, to drive me to be a better athlete. I want our team to be successful and I know that I can play a part in that. I know that I have a wonderful opportunity here at the University of Wisconsin. Not to give full effort wastes the talents and opportunities I have been given.

The Voice: Road trip offers opportunity for Badgers

The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpgAs much as I enjoy a home game at Camp Randall Stadium, it is always interesting to see a team hit the road for the first time. Prior to Big Ten play last year, the Badgers' only trip outside of Madison was a "road neutral" game at Soldier Field in Chicago against Northern Illinois.

This week figures to be a little different.

It seems the folks at Oregon State are billing this Saturday's tussle as the biggest non-conference game ever played in Corvallis.

"I think it's an opinion, but it's arguable," Beavers coach Mike Riley told reporters. The Corvallis Gazette-Times quotes Riley as saying "I'd take them (UW as the best team) over anyone else who has come in here."

So much for Bucky playing the "no respect" card.

Reser Stadium is the home of Oregon State football. It seats 45,674 fans. Not the biggest stadium, but my guess is it can get plenty loud in there.

It might be safe to assume that the crowd will be ready for a showcase game, with hopes of an upset that could spark a program that is not all that far removed from being very good.

The last two seasons have been a struggle for Oregon State. Last year in Madison, the Badgers trounced OSU 35-0.

However, in recent years, Coach Riley has had a couple of teams on the brink of winning the league title and earning a trip to the Rose Bowl. While few folks out west are expecting a run to the Pac-12 championship, many believe the Beavers will be much improved.

Quarterback Sean Mannion gained a ton of experience last fall, and entering his sophomore season, he knows he has one of the league's top targets in Markus Wheaton (73 receptions for 986 yards in 2011).

A year's experience should help the defense, as well, led by sophomore defensive end Scott Crichton, who is on the Lombardi Award watch list. Cornerback Jordan Poyer also is a big-time player. Last year he had four interceptions. In his career he has returned two picks for touchdowns, and in 2011 returned a punt 85 yards for a score against UCLA.

Since I don't play, it is easy to say this -- I'm hoping for a loud house on Saturday afternoon. After this week, the next road game is the conference opener at Nebraska. At night. You think it might be a tad noisy in Lincoln?

Might as well get a preview of coming attractions, right?

This week the Badgers get to test the old saying about how teams can make a big jump from the first game to the second. The mistakes from the opener were well-documented -- from a choppy offense to a defense that had costly breakdowns in the second half.

However, both sides were able to close the deal. The defense, with pressure from Warren Herring and a deflected pass from Ethan Hemer, stopped Northern Iowa on a critical fourth-and-1. Then the offense ran out the clock.

A work of art? Not really, but the Badgers will take it and learn some valuable lessons.

What they learn will come in handy as they make their first road trip of the season to face an opponent eager to show the college football world that it can roll with the big boys.

A summer of hard work

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Join head coach Yvette Healy and senior Meghan McIntosh as the write about the upcoming season in today's Badger Blog. 

Welcome back to school Badger softball fans. We are so excited to see our team return to campus. School starts on Tuesday, Sept. 4, and move-in has officially begun. We're trying something new this season; we'll start the year off with a week of team meetings and chalk-talks focusing on mental toughness, leadership and competition. Each coach will make a few presentations to the team, and each class will put together presentations too.   

Leadership will be a critical component this season. We finished 2012 on the bubble for making the NCAA tournament, ranked in the top 50, and recording the most wins in school history. We challenged our team to come back in the best shape of their lives to prepare for a run at Wisconsin's first Big Ten softball championship.

This week, a few of our Wisconsin softball student-athletes will share their journey this summer. It takes a tremendous amount of motivation and hard work for each athlete to meet and exceed her potential. We have some extraordinary young women in our program, and we're thrilled to have them share their inspirational stories from summer break. - Coach Healy


Summer 2012
By Meghan McIntosh


At a young age I dreamed of making it to the College World Series. When the Badgers were not selected to play in the post season last May, reality set in. I begin to think to myself about my senior season being right around the corner and the time I had to make my dream come true was diminishing. 

I had one last summer to become the best athlete I could to help the 2013 Badger softball team make it to the post season. My coaches recommended a 140 mile running challenge over the summer in order for me to have the best endurance possible. I took up this challenge and am about 20 miles from completing it. Through this I gained physical and mental toughness in which I will carry on to the field. Along with this running challenge I also did the recommended lifting workouts to gain and maintain my strength. Being a pitcher, I put a prime focus on developing a stronger core.

A big motivation over the summer was to become the best at what I do. I spent multiple hours out in the bull pen perfecting my fastball, change up, screw ball and curve ball. While working on these pitches, I also worked extremely hard on adding a new pitch. In order to see my progress I was able to throw live to a local summer travel ball team. Not only did I spend time out on the mound I also practiced my fielding and hitting. I tried to improve on every aspect of my game so I can contribute to the Badgers' success this spring.

I took part in a 30-day challenge of trying to keep my heart rate down and not experience stress while taking part in something physically or mentally tough. Being a pitcher, I experience pressure every game. This helped me find ways not to become stressed and relax. 

I also learned more than I could imagine by teaching girls how to pitch over the summer. Teaching the fundamentals of pitching to these young girls was beneficial to my own pitching as well. I began to focus on crucial fundamentals such as wrist snap every time I would warm up to throw. This summer I began to realize that I was once one of these young girls dreaming of becoming a part of a college softball team. I am grateful that I had an opportunity this summer to help enrich the softball community in my hometown.

This summer was my last summer to leave everything on the field, in the weight room and on the track. It marked the start of the last preparation for my last college softball season. It may be my last softball season but it will be the first time this Badger softball family will be selected into the NCAA tournament. 

On Wisconsin! 
ON WISCONSIN