The Voice: Seniors brace for emotional farewell

The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpgWow. Give my wife a blog for one week, and she crushes me for my lack of pop culture knowledge. OK, until the last month or so, I knew little, if anything, about Ke$ha. I had no clue about the Harlem Shake. Guilty.

But completely unhip? I object.

For comfort, I turned to Ryan Evans. After practice last Sunday, the Badgers had a brief session in the weight room. Word has it the D.J. is strength and conditioning coach Scott Hettenbach. (FYI, hey kids,  D.J. means "disc jockey." The person who plays the songs. Back in the day, we called those songs "records").

Whatever the case, the music blaring included some selections that Evans loves. Current tunes you think? Nope. Try "Love Rollercoaster" by the Ohio Players. Or Heatwave's "Groove Line."  

Some 1970s funk. What your friendly blogger was hearing in high school. And Ryan Evans likes it.

"It definitely favors me," says Evans. That's the stuff I was raised on. I definitely like that when it comes on."

Thank you Mr. Evans. Maybe I am not unhip after all. Maybe, just maybe, I am "sneaky hip."  Seemingly out of touch, yet still fairly cool.

Let me dream, OK?

*  *  *  *

Onto the much more important matters of the day, such as the final week of home games for the Wisconsin basketball team. Time sure flies when you are having fun, and Badger fans have had a blast watching this team, from the double overtime thriller with Iowa, to the dominating performance against Ohio State. In the middle was the dramatic OT tilt with Michigan.

Even Bo Ryan jokes that he wonders how many people will claim to have been in attendance for "The Shot," starring Ben Brust. We guess about 150,000 -- at least.

Senior Day always has plenty of emotion. The good news is there will be more games to play. Two more regular-season games, on the road at Michigan State as well as Penn State. Then there is the Big Ten tournament, followed by postseason play.

Still, these seniors know the clock is ticking.

"It feels like yesterday we were preparing for Southeastern Louisiana," said Dan Fahey. "All the older guys have said that things fly by, especially your last year. Brett (Valentyn) always told me that. It really has sunk in. It really has flown by."

It is much the same for J. D. Wise, who admits he will be "Tryin' to fight back the tears."  

Each year following the final home game, there is a video presentation featuring each of the seniors.

With a smile, Wise offered up a bittersweet moment. "I was looking at the senior questions for the video. It's like sitting in my room listening to Closing Time," referring to the song released by Semisonic in 1998. (Yes, I have heard of it).

The season is far from done, but on Sunday afternoon five players will conclude a heck of a chapter in their lives. With it comes the challenge of balancing any tears with the task at hand.

"The idea is we want them to play as long as they can," says coach Bo Ryan. "That is what they keep in the forefront, that there is still a lot more (games) to play. As emotional as Senior Day can get, and it is emotional, you know our guys still understand that we've gotta play."

Hopefully, they will be playing quite a bit in the next few weeks, even if it won't be at the Kohl Center.