The Voice: Showcase of Badgers' excellence a great wrap-up

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As sports fans, it is only natural to view a favorite team or a favorite player simply by performance in the athletic arena. Did it win or lose? How many points did so-and-so score? How many goals? How fast did he or she run?

Badger fans have enjoyed the opportunity to view a number of memorable performances in a variety of sports. On a yearly basis, UW teams have given fans ample reason to cheer.

For the last five years, the University of Wisconsin has had an event that celebrates the student-athletes' successes beyond the playing field. It is called The Buckinghams, and it is quite a show. The purpose is to recognize those who have excelled in the classroom and in the community. The program also gives several student-athletes the opportunity to display their unique talents, which this year ranged from tap dancing to performing an opera piece.

It truly is a showcase of excellence

The organizers, with special mention to Director of Student-Athlete Development Bridget Woodruff, somehow manage to gather student-athletes from every sport in the same room for a well-planned, entertaining evening.

In addition to the official award winners, an unofficial trophy for toughness should go to women's hockey player Katy Josephs. In addition to her gifts as a forward for Mark Johnson's hockey team, Josephs also possesses a beautiful signing voice. However, earlier in the day during rehearsal, she was feeling lousy -- as evidenced by her constant coughing.

As someone who speaks for a living, having a cold or the flu can be a nightmare. I figured she would be listed as doubtful for the event. I was wrong. The show must go on, right? So Katy sang, and she was outstanding in her rendition of "Try" by P!nk.

Never doubt the focus of a determined Badger.

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Also, never doubt the loyalty of a Badger. Last Friday night, 175 former UW football players were in town to take a look at the new locker room and players' lounge, as well as the new varsity sports and football weight rooms. The word "impressive" hardly does justice to the finished product. Those who attended probably understand more than most the importance of the project. I also should add this group came away very impressed and excited about coach Gary Andersen.

During the reunion weekend, some 500 former players and their families were in attendance for Saturday's spring game. It was a treat to see players from several eras. On a personal note, I really enjoyed seeing some of the guys from my first years here in the late 1980s. Those seasons might have been difficult, but there were some very good players on those teams, and many of them were on campus last week. It was fun catching up with them.

That connection is important. Hopefully every athlete who has gone through this university understands that he or she is part of a special group. Think of the number of young boys and girls who dream of being a Badger. Yet in the grand scheme of things, only a select few get that opportunity.  You might be an ex-player, but you are never an ex-Badger. I spoke to those who have not been around very much in recent years. My message is simple -- don't be a stranger. 

In the last week, I have visited with a number of current athletes as well as those of yesteryear. Watching them perform, or listening to some old stories simply reminds me that I am very lucky to be associated with this institution. 

As the spring sports season continues, I wish all the best for a strong finish. 

Thank you for checking out my blog this season. Have a great spring and summer!