UW Health Sports Medicine 

May 2013 Archives


Wisconsin has the fourth-best game day atmosphere behind Alabama, Notre Dame and Florida. Lindy's Sports College Football Preview says so.

Gary Andersen was the third-best coaching hire this past off-season, behind Western Kentucky's Bobby Petrino and South Florida's Willie Taggart. Athlon Sports Big Ten Preview says so.

Andersen was also the new hire that inspired the third-most confidence behind Oregon's Mark Helfrich and the aforementioned Taggart. The Sporting News' College Football Preview says so.

Wisconsin's Jacob Pedersen is the second-best tight end in the country. Lindy's says so.

Wisconsin's Dave Aranda is one of the top new coordinators. Athlon says so.

Wisconsin-Ohio State is one of the Games of the Week, if not the Year. TSN says so.

You get the idea. Everybody has a say in the 2013 preseason college football magazines.

But the beat writers who cover the teams and players have less of a say than you think.

Jeff Potrykus and Tom Mulhern cover the Badgers for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Wisconsin State Journal, respectively. Both are respected, experienced reporters; among the best.

Potrykus wrote the Wisconsin preview and an accompanying feature on Andersen for Athlon Sports. Mulhern wrote the UW preview for Lindy's. Last year, he also filed a Montee Ball feature.

But neither has any input on the preseason Top 25, All-America and all-conference teams, player ratings, position rankings and league predictions that appear in each of these magazines.

It's standard operating procedure. As a whole, the contributing writers, like Potrykus and Mulhern, don't have a voice beyond their team preview and any sidebar or feature.

Among other things, they are responsible for a team's depth chart, which can be problematic because of deadlines. Potrykus had an April 1 deadline. The UW had only six spring practices by then.

"I joked about this with Mulhern,'' said Potrykus, who has been covering the Badgers since the mid-'90s for the Journal Sentinel. "The worst part was the depth chart they wanted, especially with a new staff at Wisconsin. I might as well have pulled names out of a hat. I'm not joking.

"All kidding aside, that's literally how difficult it was to try and put together a depth chart. It's mostly guesswork, which is frustrating because you can't give their readers -- who buy that publication -- nearly as accurate of a picture as you would like.''

Mulhern had a little more flexibility with his late April deadline.

"I was helped by the fact that I could wait until the end of spring practice,'' said Mulhern, who has covered UW football since the late '90s for the State Journal. "But even with that, they had no official depth chart put out by Wisconsin. This year it made it more difficult with the coaching change and a little more stuff up in the air.

"It really is guesswork. You're trying to project things -- four or five months down the road -- and there are really not a lot of concrete answers that time of the year (March-April). I appreciated having the entire spring, but it didn't make it that much easier.''

All of the preseason magazines have regional covers. Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland and wide receiver Jared Abbrederis are on the cover of the Athlon Sports Big Ten Preview.

Borland shares The Sporting News cover with Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez. UW tailback James White and Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner are on the Lindy's cover.

In Lindy's player ratings, Gardner is listed as the No. 17 quarterback. Ohio State's Braxton Miller is No. 2 -- behind Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel -- while Martinez is No. 13. No other Big Ten QB is rated.

White was curiously not rated among Lindy's top 25 running backs. Melvin Gordon is No. 20 and comes with this disclaimer, "Gordon or tag-teamer James White? Gordon will be the breakout star.''

Ohio State's Carlos Hyde (No. 7), Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah (No. 10) and Northwestern's Venric Mark (No. 11) were all rated above Gordon. But what about White's omission?

"Just based on returning numbers (2,571 career rushing yards), he's got to be in the Top 25,'' Potrykus said. "I honestly think he's going to have his best year because I think they're going to throw to him whether he's lining up as a receiver or coming out of the backfield.''

On the Top 25 snub, Mulhern cited how White has often languished in the shadows of others and noted, "That kind of plays into the way his career has gone, going back to high school when he was kind of the overlooked guy with Giovani Bernard (at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)."

Bernard was the 2012 ACC Offensive Player of the Year at North Carolina and a second-round draft choice of the Cincinnati Bengals. Mulhern suggested that White has thrived when he has not been viewed as the quote-unquote featured back. "I think he kind of likes that role,'' he added.

Lindy's has Pedersen listed as a second-team All-American behind Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Athlon and TSN have Borland tabbed as a third-team All-American.

Wisconsin is No. 19 in Athlon's preseason Top 25; No. 24 in TSN; and No. 26 in Lindy's. Potrykus and Mulhern have Ohio State atop the Big Ten overall, followed by Michigan and the Badgers.

The Sept. 28 Leaders Division showdown between the Badgers and the Buckeyes in Columbus in prime time should be special, but it will share the day with LSU at Georgia.

Which is fitting since Wisconsin and LSU may be sharing the field in the near future.

Ammerman in Africa: Update Two

Brittany Ammerman, a junior on the Wisconsin women's hockey team, is taking part in a one-month trip to Kenya, where she will work with a women's health education program called Health by Motorbike. Over the next month, she will send updates to UWBadgers.com about the once-in-a-lifetime experience. Make sure to check back often to follow her progress!


We have been in the Lunga Lunga community for 3 days now...let the motorbike riding, teaching and working in the health clinic begin!

Our trip from Nairobi to Mombasa to Lunga Lunga took a total of 24 hours. We were on the train from Nairobi to Mombasa overnight from Friday to Saturday for a total of 16 hours! When we awoke on the train Saturday morning, we looked outside the window and the scenery was exactly what one would imagine Africa to look like - absolutely stunning.
In the morning, the train would make a few stops in villages. When the train would begin to slow down, kids from the villages would run to the tracks and ask for food, candy and money. Some of the children were happy to see us and would enthusiastically wave as we passed through. Once again, they were smiling without a care in the world and with faith shining through their eyes. When we arrived in Mombasa, we were greeted by Bendetta, the woman from Lunga Lunga who has partnered with Professor Araceli to keep Health by Motorbike running. She is an amazing woman - so powerful, loving and inspiring.

We loaded onto a Matatu (AKA a bus) and took a three-hour ride out to Lunga Lunga. The scenery during the ride was breathtaking. We would drive for miles through green landscaping and then would drive through very small villages. Majority of the ride was on a dirt road.

Once in Lunga Lunga, we were able to tour the Nikumbuke Project facilities and see where we would be living for the next two weeks. Here in Lunga Lunga, there is no running water and limited electricity. We shower by pouring a bucket of water on ourselves and go to the bathroom in "squatty potties" which are glorified holes in the ground. It is a very sobering experience, but we are all loving it here and the people we are interacting with.

Yesterday we took our first motorbike ride! It was a 35-minute ride to the village of Goto. The roads we traveled on were barely wide enough for two people to walk on. The women of Goto were so excited to see us that many of them cried.
Goto is a farming community and is located in a small desert. The women there do the farming while their husbands are three hours away in the city of Mombasa working or with other wives. But the women are so very passionate and eager to learn from us. Because they are such hard workers, they rarely have time to sing and dance. However, when they saw us we had a celebration with soda, bread, and dancing! They pulled me up to dance with them and sang my name. They are a really special group of women and I cannot wait to work with a couple of them this week.

Today we had a lecture on maternal health from a local doctor, Dr. Mwangi. We then toured the medical clinic here. Beginning on Thursday, we will be working in the medical clinic to aid in weighing babies, admitting patients, working in the pharmacy, and observing deliveries! We will also begin our teaching of women's health on Thursday as well.
This year, there are seven villages involved and two women have been selected from each village to come learn from us and become "health promoters". But before that, we will be visiting the Massai medical camp, which is a motorbike ride that will take two-hours! The Massai are a very traditional tribe in Kenya and can be related to the Amish of the United State. They do not want to change their ways, but are they willing and eager to learn from us.

We are so very excited to touch more hearts and lives, and also make a difference. The women here are teaching us just as much as we are teaching them, through their willingness to learn, their passion, their perseverance and their love.

Hakuna matata rafikis!


Ammerman in Africa: Update One

Brittany Ammerman, a junior on the Wisconsin women's hockey team, is taking part in a one-month trip to Kenya, where she will work with a women's health education program called Health by Motorbike. Over the next month, she will send updates to UWBadgers.com about the once-in-a-lifetime experience. Make sure to check back often to follow her progress!



We arrived in Nairobi late Tuesday night. Then around midnight Nairobi time, we arrived at the Kibera Community Self Help Program (KICOSHEP). This is where we have been staying for the past few days. We are just outside the slum of Kibera, which is the second largest slum in all of Africa, inhabiting over one million people.
At KICOSHEP we have been helping communities cope with HIV/AIDS in prevention and care. Today, a group of women community sex workers came to the KICOSHEP clinic to learn from us and allow us to share our knowledge with them. These women have mostly resorted to sex work to make money to support their families. Luckily, they were very open with us about their hobby and asked many questions while also sharing their own stories. I believe they were so open with us because we were very welcoming towards them and non-judgmental. We were able to teach them about maternal, sexual, and reproductive health, as well as the signs and symptoms of HIV, how HIV is transmitted, and how to most effectively protect themselves from infection of HIV.
The women were so happy to learn from us and interact with us. One of the women, Stella, came up to me and said, "I am just so happy that you are here! I will not sleep tonight because of my happiness from you". It is so unbelievably touching to here such remarks from these women as we work with them and attempt to better their lives. I was also wearing a Wisconsin hockey hat and about six of them asked if they could keep my hat as a way to remember me.
Later in the day we traveled to Kibera to see the slums and see one of the health clinics, as well as KICOSHEP's school within the slum. The walk through was very difficult. There was trash, feces, sewage, and more right outside the small shack-like houses of the people who live there. It is very unsanitary and hard to believe that over one million people live like this every day.
But what was so surprising was the level of happiness of the people who we interacted with in the slum. The children are so very happy and excited to see "white" people. I think they loved interacting with us especially because we did not take photos of them. They are not zoo animals, but rather human beings just like us. My only explanation for them being so happy is because they do not know life outside the slum, they do not recognize the rights they have as humans to lead better lives, and they do not realize how much better it can be in terms of health and quality of life.
The kids were so cute; whenever they saw us, they would wave and yell "How are youuu??" in a little Swahili accent. Many of them loved to fist bump with me and play with a volleyball. They also loved to read in their school and loved to lie on the floor of the tiny classroom to read and do work. It was nice to see that the KICOSHEP school was clean on the inside and offered a sanctuary of sorts for the children.

It's helpful to know that they are receiving an education and there is hope for their future. It is just a matter of self-will for those children in terms of who goes out of the Kibera slum to pursue their dream of becoming a doctor, accountant, or whatever.
We are all still digesting what we witnessed today in the Kibera slum and are mostly speechless. It is hard to put into words everything we witnessed and felt today. It was definitely a sobering experience and allows us all to realize just how privileged and lucky we are to lead the lives we lead. But that is not the reason we went to tour the slum. We went there to provoke thoughts of how to make a healthier life for these people.

It is important to understand, I believe, that just giving money to these communities will not work. We must invest money, but also develop a community approach and educate the people so they can change their ways of life. I hope in the near future that the slum of Kibera begins to shrink and becomes a healthier place to live
I will try to write again in the next couple days, but the Internet is very stubborn here. We are in Kibera and Nairobi until tomorrow night, when we take an 11-hour long train ride east to the Lunga Lunga community to educate women for two weeks. Until next time....Hakuna Matata!

Coach Andersen goes back to his roots for a good cause

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Thumbnail image for IMG_7469.JPGYou may not have heard, but Badgers' coach Gary Andersen met his wife, Stacey, while working at a burger joint as a teenager in Utah. Yesterday he went back in time a little bit, stopping by the Culver's near East Towne Mall in Madison to help out during their "Day of Giving." Ten percent of all proceeds from all Culver's sales at every location in Wisconsin on May 21 went towards the Badger Honor Flight.

Ammerman in Africa: Africa bound

Brittany Ammerman
Brittany Ammerman, a junior on the Wisconsin women's hockey team, is taking part in a one-month trip to Kenya, where she will work with a women's health education program called Health by Motorbike. Over the next month, she will send updates to UWBadgers.com about the once-in-a-lifetime experience. Make sure to check back often to follow her progress! Below is her first update as she prepares to leave the United States.

It is time for me to step out of the ice rink and gym for the next month and take a break from the student-athlete life. On Monday, May 20th, I am traveling to Kenya with a group called Health by Motorbike. Being an aspiring surgeon, and pursuing a double major in biology and women's studies and a minor in global health, I have always had dreams of helping people in developing nations and seeing the world. But I never thought I would have the opportunity to take part in something like this month-long journey I am about to embark on!
Health by Motorbike is an organization created by professor Araceli Alonso, a registered nurse and professor of women's studies at Wisconsin. A few years ago, Araceli and her daughter traveled to Kenya to meet a couple of women who they were exchanging letters with via a pen pal program. While in rural Kenya, women of the communities Araceli was visiting expressed their interest and need to learn more about maternal health, childbirth and women's health in general - While there were women in the communities who had delivered babies for years, they still did not know when to cut the umbilical cord!

It was evident that health services and education were out of reach to the women and girls of rural Kenya. With very few health clinics, a lack of health information and limited access to transportation, many preventable diseases were creating enormous health burdens in these communities. Araceli decided to take the initiative to change this. Being that the nearest health clinic to many of these communities was too far away, Araceli created a permanent health post in the Lunga Lunga community, along with a mobile clinic that delivers supplies and medical services via motorbikes. After her first trip to Kenya, Araceli wanted to bring college students to Kenya to train local village health workers and create a sustainable health project in Health by Motorbike.
On May 20th, 12 of us, all students at UW who had to apply for a very competitive position as a Health by Motorbike volunteer, will fly to Kenya. For the first four days we will work in the slums of Kibera and learn. We will then take a long train ride to the Lunga Lunga community and begin to work with the women. The women we will be working with are "health promoters" from many different communities. We will share knowledge with them about anatomy, reproduction, maternal health, nutrition, communicable and non-communicable diseases and much more. At the end of our trip, the women will "graduate" and receive a diploma from UW-Madison that officially deems them a "health promoter." They will then go back to their respective communities and teach the women there.
What is so great about Health by Motorbike is that we are not simply going to Kenya to "fix" anything and put a Band-Aid on the flaws in the health care, or lack thereof, received there. Instead, we simply teach a few women, who can then teach more women, and eventually we will have touched and educated thousands of women!
While in Kenya, I will be blogging about my experiences with Health by Motorbike. I cannot wait to share this life-changing journey with you, while also making more people aware of the change and help that is needed in Kenya.
Hakuna Matata!

Anders Holm visit a thrill for Badgers

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The 2012-13 season was monumental for the University of Wisconsin swimming and diving program.

Not only did more than a dozen Badgers earn all-american honors, but the men's squad crowned its first individual NCAA champion (Drew teDuits) in over five decades and the women's team saw Ivy Martin set a Big Ten record in the 50-yard freestyle en route to her Big Ten championship.

It was fitting that the Badgers capped off the 2013 academic year with another memorable moment: a visit from Workaholics star, Anders Holm.

Holm, a 2003 graduate of UW and former member of the swim squad, stopped by the team's facilities on Friday afternoon to visit with the coaches and student-athletes. The Comedy Central comic was in town to deliver the 2013 commencement address at all four ceremonies over the weekend, but found time to reconnect with his former team and many of the student-athletes who were in his shoes just 10 years ago.

@BadgerSwimDive chronicled the visit, while many of the student-athletes quickly turned to Twitter to show their gratitude for Holm. Here is an archived account of the afternoon's events, including a video of the comedian hitting the pool for a relay race with members of the coaching staff:

Tough Ticket: 2013-14 schedule taking shape

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Although next year's slate is far from complete, the Badgers have many of the pieces in place for the 2013-14 season. That schedule will feature one of the toughest home slates in school history. According to ESPN.com's preseason Top-25, Wisconsin will host seven of the top-25 teams in the nation.

No. 3 Michigan State, No. 7 Florida, No. 8 Ohio State, No. 10 Michigan, No. 16 Marquette, No. 20 Indiana and No. 25 Iowa are all scheduled to visit the Kohl Center next winter.

Wisconsin opens the season with a pair of big-time showdowns against St. John's and Florida. The season tips off in Sioux Falls, S.D., with a neutral-site game against the Red Storm on Nov. 8. The contest will be the first-ever Division I college basketball game played in the new Sanford Pentagon, a $19 million complex which is scheduled to open this fall. 

The Badgers then open the Kohl Center with a Nov. 12 appointment with the Gators.

The league schedule is also beginning to take shape as the Big Ten announced which conference rivals will face off only one time next season. Among Wisconsin's single-plays in 2013-14 will be trips to Penn State and Nebraska, as well as home dates with Michigan State and Ohio State.

As a result, UW will play twice against Purdue, Indiana, Michigan and Northwestern, its four single-plays from last season. 

The Badgers and Buckeyes split their series last season, with the host team protecting home court on both occasions. The Badgers will not have to visit Michigan State in 2013-14, a site where they have not won since 2003-04.

The Badgers swept both Nebraska and Penn State last year.

Tentative non-conference schedule:
Nov. 8: St. John's (Sioux Falls, S.D.)
Nov. 12: Florida (Kohl Center)
Nov. 26: vs. St. Louis (Cancun)
Nov. 27: vs. West Virginia/Old Dominion (Cancun)
Dec. 4: at Virginia (Charlottesville, Va.)

*BOLD indicates home game (Nov. 8 neutral site showdown vs. St. John's will serve as home game for Badgers)

Wisconsin softball coach Yvette Healy can measure how far her program has grown by merely taking an inventory on the number of players the Badgers have put on All-Big Ten teams.

In 2010, her first season, Healy had three on the third team: Letty Olivarez, Jennifer Krueger and Shannel Blackshear. It was the most since the UW had four players on the third team in 2005.

In 2011, Karla Powell became only the third player in school history - the first since 2002 - to be named first-team All-Big Ten. Mary Massei was on the second team and Krueger the third team.

 This season, the Badgers had three players recognized on the first team: Massei, Cassandra Darrah and Whitney Massey. Kendall Grimm and Meghan McIntosh were honored on the second team.

"It's huge," Healy said of the progress that has been made in this area. "You want, of course, to get national attention and have All-Americans in the program. But this is the stepping stone.

"You've got to be able to do it within the conference first. When we took over a few years ago, we talked about how many first-team all-conference players there were in the history of the program.

"They had two."

The next step is the most challenging - garnering All-American recognition.

"What you do down the stretch will have a lot to do with it," said Healy, a two-time All-American at DePaul during her playing days. "I think we have players who will at least get a look.

"When you get to this win-or-go-home postseason-type of play, you have to be able to perform against the best teams when it counts the most. The most important games are the games to come."

The best marketing tool is performance, especially on the bigger stages, like this weekend's Big Ten tournament in Lincoln, Neb. The Badgers earned a first-round bye and open play on Friday.

If nothing else, they won't need a GPS to find Bowlin Stadium.

Wisconsin has played three games there in each of the last two seasons.

In 2012, the Badgers upset Nebraska, 3-1, in the series opener; snapping a 16-game home winning streak for the Huskers. Darrah allowed just six hits.

In mid-April, Darrah again limited Nebraska to six hits and only two runs and received even more offensive support from her teammates. The Badgers won 5-2 on the strength of a four-run sixth inning.

The fact that Wisconsin has won at least one game on each of its last two trips to Lincoln is something that Healy is hoping to build on and it starts with the pitching, Darrah and McIntosh.

"We're thrilled Cassandra got first-team all-conference,' Healy said. "But she still has a long ways to go to become the player that she has the ability to be.

"To have nine wins in the conference is a big deal and to win at Nebraska last year and this year just shows that she's had some really clutch Big Ten wins for us."

Can there be any application of muscle memory for Darrah? "We hope," Healy said. "There are not many pitchers who can say they know what it's like to win at Nebraska."

McIntosh struggled against Michigan State but Healy is counting on her resiliency.

"We do expect her to bounce back," she said. "She's got a bunch of big wins, especially in conference. To throw a no-hitter against Minnesota at their place shows what kind of pitcher she is."

Having thrown a no-hitter earlier in the season, McIntosh joined Andrea Kirchberg as the only pitchers in program history with two no-hitters to their credit. Darrah also had a no-hitter this spring.

Healy believes Massey, a converted infielder-outfielder, deserves some of the credit not only for making a seamless transition this season to catcher, but in managing the pitchers.

"When you catch three no-hitters in one season, you're doing something right behind the plate," Healy said. "She gets a lot of calls for the pitchers by doing a great job of framing (pitches).

"She also brings a real calming nature to the pitchers. She kind of sets the tempo and keeps them under control and that has given them more confidence in throwing to her."

The lack of postseason experience is obviously a concern for Healy. "A lot of the Big Ten teams have players who have played in the NCAA tournament and won," she said.

That the Badgers drew a record crowd (2,007) to Goodman Diamond for last Sunday's doubleheader split against Michigan State was a "great warm-up" for the Big Ten tournament, she said.

"We didn't play as well as we would have liked, we didn't deliver," Healy admitted. "But at least we got experience playing in that atmosphere under our belt and we're hoping to improve on it."

Healy isn't sure what it will take to make the NCAA tournament. "We've done everything we can to put ourselves in a great position," she said. "The last RPI came out and we were still 26.

"I like where we're at."

Especially since Lincoln has become such a home away from home.


Pat Harder would have been 91 on Monday.

As a Badger, he was 34 -- No. 34 -- an All-American fullback on the legendary 1942 team.

Harder, a Milwaukee native, was a fan favorite at Camp Randall Stadium.

"Hit'em again, Harder, Harder.''

Who knew such a simple cheer would have so much staying power?

In the 1944 National Football League draft, the Boston Yanks -- consider what an oxymoron that combination is today -- selected Notre Dame quarterback Angelo Bertelli with the No. 1 pick overall.

The 5-foot-11, 203-pound Harder -- who answered to the nickname "The Mule'' -- was taken second by the Chicago Cardinals. No UW player has ever been drafted higher.

After World War II, Harder played eight seasons with the Cardinals and Detroit Lions. Upon his retirement as a player, Harder went on to officiate 17 seasons in the NFL.

Less than a year after his death in 1992, Harder was posthumously inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Alan Ameche is the only other UW running back to be so honored by the HOF.

On Tuesday, the National Football Foundation will announce its 2013 College Football Hall of Fame class, which will consist of 12 players and two coaches.

Wisconsin tailback Ron Dayne is on the ballot for the first time and it would be surprising -- maybe even shocking -- if Dayne, the NCAA's all-time leading rusher, is not a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Dayne is not the only HOF candidate who falls into this year's "no-brainer'' category.

Any short list should include Nebraska's Tommie Frazier, TCU's LaDainian Tomlinson, Oklahoma's Brian Bosworth, Notre Dame's Rocket Ismail, Ohio State's Orlando Pace, Indiana's Antwaan Randle El, Alabama's Derrick Thomas, Miami's Vinny Testaverde and Iowa's Andre Tippett.

By the way, Bernie Wyatt, a former Hayden Fry assistant, was not only instrumental in recruiting Tippett to Iowa, but also Dayne to Wisconsin when he was on Barry Alvarez's coaching staff.

On his 1995 campus visit, Dayne saw the Badgers attempt 51 passes and only 20 runs in a 33-20 loss to the Hawkeyes at Camp Randall. They were outrushed by 312 yards.

Sedrick Shaw led Iowa with 41 carries and 214 yards. Aaron Stecker led Wisconsin with 13 carries and 25 yards. After the game, UW assistant Brian White threw his arm around Dayne.

"See why we need you?'' White said with a sigh.

Dayne nodded and replied softly, "Yeah, I do.''

Seven thousand and one hundred and twenty-five rushing yards later ...

Dayne left Wisconsin with the 1999 Heisman Trophy.

In 2011, he was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame.

When he got the news, Dayne responded, "Are you serious? Aren't I too young to be going into a Hall of Fame?'' He was then 33. Later, he admitted, "I was surprised. I really didn't believe it.''

Dayne was a two-time Rose Bowl MVP, one of only four in history joining Texas' Vince Young, USC's Charles White and Washington's Bob Schloredt.

Alvarez, UW's director of athletics, was Dayne's presenter at the Rose Bowl induction ceremony. To say the least, he knows his way around such HOF functions as a previous inductee.

"You liked your odds,'' Alvarez has always said, "going into any game with Ron Dayne.''

You also have to like the odds of Dayne going into the College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

Regular season finale

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In today's Badger Blog, head coach Yvette Healy writes about the end of the regular season and the impressive season in the Big Ten. 

We're gearing up for the last weekend of regular season play in Madison. Wisconsin is 38-9 and our 15-5 record in conference has us sitting in second place in the Big Ten! 

We host Michigan State this weekend for a big three-game series. What Badgers fan doesn't love battling the Spartans? Friday's 6 p.m. game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network, and there are a ton of fun activities all weekend. 

It's crazy to realize that this is only our second weekend at home this season; we've played 40 games on the road this spring. We can't wait to play in front of our family and friends, as we celebrate senior day for Maggie, Molly, Shannel, Kendall, Kelsey, Meghan and Whitney. 

Three Big Ten teams have a chance to earn the Big Ten championship in the final weekend of Big Ten play, with Michigan (17-2), Wisconsin (15-5) and Nebraska (14-5) vying for the conference crown. 

The Big Ten is one of three conferences, joining the SEC and Pac-12, with six or more teams in the top 50 of the latest RPI. Nebraska (sixth) climbed four spots this week, while Michigan (12th), Wisconsin (23rd), Minnesota (29th), Iowa (34th) and Northwestern (45th) are also among the top 50.

When you think about the amazing winning legacies that Michigan and Nebraska have built, it's impressive just to be mentioned in the same sentence as these powerhouse programs. They've combined for 16 world series appearances, and more than 30 conference championships. We know the Badgers softball program will grow and improve by osmosis and proximity, just being around and near great coaches like Carol Hutchins and Rhonda Revelle and their Huskers and Wolverines legacies in the Big Ten.