Montee Ball dominated plenty of defenses in his three seasons as a running back for the Wisconsin football team, but his effort in the Badgers' win at Purdue last season has earned special attention.
The career-high 247 yards and three touchdowns Ball racked up against the Boilermakers earned him the "Most Dominating Performance" award as part of the sixth-annual BTN Awards Show on Wednesday.
Ball's 247 yards were a career high on the ground, and his third touchdown of the day marked the 72nd of his career. That made him the Big Ten's all-time leader in TDs, surpassing Badgers great Ron Dayne's career total of 71 scores. According to NCAA statistics (which did not include bowl games until 2002), Ball became just the third player in FBS history to score 70 or more touchdowns in a career.
The individual effort was part of an overall domination by the Badgers' offense, which gained 645 total yards, the second-highest tally in school history.
Ball finished his Badgers career as the NCAA's all-time leader in touchdowns, with 83, and career record-holder for rushing touchdowns, with 77.
Ben Brust was shown a map of the Road America track at Elkhart Lake and prodded to pinpoint his location during last Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series race, the Johnsonville Sausage 200.
Using a pen to identify where he was standing on the winding 14-turn, 4-mile circuit that winds through scenic Kettle Moraine, he jabbed at the map and said, "I'm near a hamburger stand right here."
X marked the spot -- or in this case -- the spotter, who just happened to be the leading scorer on last season's Wisconsin basketball team. That would be Brust, a passionate NASCAR devotee.
Brust was spotting for Brendan Gaughan, a 37-year-old driver for Richard Childress Racing and a former walk-on basketball player at Georgetown University.
"Boom, right there," said Brust, pointing to the Road America map, "I had him (Gaughan) coming out of (turn) 6, the slight right at 7 and then I had a really good view of 8 from my angle."
If necessary, he could also partially follow the No. 26 car (Gaughan's car) through turns 9 and 10, otherwise known as the "Carousel" -- a lengthy tight-turning stretch that curves into a straightaway.
Whereas one full-time spotter is standard for oval racing, multiple spotters are necessary on a road course to see everything. Brust, a volunteer, was one of Gaughan's three spotters at Elkhart Lake.
Armed with a two-way radio, he might alert Gaughan to a driver that had spun out ahead of him by merely saying, "Spin in front, spin in front. Check up, check up. All clear, no pressure."
Short is sweet for Brust who has had some experience as a race fan monitoring scanners. "It's got to be precise and to the point," he said, "to make sure he (Gaughan) knows what's going on."
Less can be more. As such, there were some situations where Brust had to use his best judgment on what to say or not say. "Brendan trusted me," he said. "He knew I'd be able to handle it."
Brust and Gaughan were brought together by fate, resolve and racing.
A couple of years ago, ESPN basketball analyst Steven Bardo alerted Brust to Gaughan.
"He (Bardo) said, 'Hey, I heard you're into NASCAR, if you get a chance, you should check out Brendan,'" Brust recounted. "He put the name into my head and I went on Twitter and looked him up."
Brust learned that Gaughan, a Las Vegas native, was a 5-foot-9 walk-on guard at Georgetown; a practice player that wound up befriending Allen Iverson and seeing action in 25 career games.
Gaughan was also a placekicker on the Hoyas' football team, which competes within the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). In 1994, he converted on 39 of 40 extra points.
As a driver, Gaughan has steadily evolved from off-road to NASCAR. There had been some Twitter dialogue between Brust and Gaughan before meeting at the Chicagoland Speedway last year.
"I got a chance to talk with him," Brust said, "and hang out with him a little bit."
Following the UW's elimination from the NCAA tournament, Brust and two of his teammates, Jared Berggren and Dan Fahey, headed to Las Vegas, where Brust again crossed paths with Gaughan.
The Gaughan family has strong Vegas roots and resources, including the South Point Hotel and Casino, a sponsor for Brendan Gaughan, a veteran of the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series.
When Brust was at Road America last year, he was talking with one of Elliott Sadler's spotters, who suggested that if he had the time next year that he might look into spotting for a driver.
"It was kind of joking, kind of serious," Brust said. "But it gave me the idea."
Brust ran it past Gaughan during spring break in Las Vegas.
"When it came up," Brust related, "he said, 'Do you want to do it?' I said, 'Of course.' As it got closer (to the Elkhart Lake event), he texted, 'Still want to do it?' And I replied, 'Yeah, of course.'"
Gaughan made it happen. "Spotting isn't athletic," Gaughan told The Sporting News, "but you have to use your brain, you have to make decisions on the fly, which he (Brust) is used to (doing)."
Brust admitted to having some pre-race anxiety, not unlike the feeling prior to an opening tipoff.
"I was a little nervous," he said. "A nervous excitement, because I knew that I could do it. It's the same type of thing (in basketball); I'm there to help the team be successful.
"So I wanted to do my job and do it right."
As part of his pre-race preparation, Brust viewed a YouTube video featuring a road course driver, Ron Fellows, whose on-board camera taped laps 13-34 during a Road America event.
"I used it to memorize the track -- it's braking points and what are good passing zones -- just to give me some familiarity," said Brust, who had previously watched the race as a spectator from turn 5.
"That's where a lot of the action was, but I didn't know the whole track."
Brust arrived over an hour before the race to get his spotting directions from Team Gaughan and stake out his territory. He estimated that there were nearly 30 spotters in the same area.
"Everybody minds their own business and does their job," said Brust, who was originally scheduled to work out of the "Canada Corner" before a change in assignments.
Late in the race, when Gaughan encountered some difficulty in that corner, Brust fielded some disparaging tweets on Twitter from fans who mistakenly thought that he was responsible.
It was nothing that he couldn't handle; after all, he has played in Big Ten road venues.
Although none of the Childress cars were exceptional last Saturday -- Gaughan finished 11th -- Brust sounded like he was truly in his element. "I would do it again in a heartbeat," he said.
But that will have to wait.
"Right now, I have to focus on what's ahead," said Brust, whose eyes are fixed on his senior year at Wisconsin and the summer training phase in Madison. "I'm here to lift, get stronger and get better.
"Getting better in every category possible is one of my goals every year. We have a lot of young guys (six freshmen) so it's my job to set a good example for them and help them get better each day."
The thought of another Big Ten season, his final one, had his heart racing, as you might expect.
By Anna Poulter-Hendrickson on June 24, 2013 8:12 AM
Over the course of two weeks, UW Athletics will look back on the Badgers' biggest accomplishments during the 2012-13 season.
A trip to Lincoln, Neb., bared fruit for the Wisconsin softball team in 2013, as the Badgers posted a 3-0 record in Bowlin Stadium en route to their first ever Big Ten tournament title.
Wisconsin posted a school record 16-7 Big Ten record, earning them the fourth seed in the league's first tournament since 2008.
Opening action against fifth seeded Northwestern, the Badgers earned a 3-0 victory to advance to the semifinals where they were tasked with the job of defeating the league's regular season champion, No. 6 Michigan.
With the odds against them, the Badgers knocked off the No. 1 seeded Wolverines for the first time since 2002. A six-run first inning was topped off by a pinch hit grand slam by Steffani LaJeunesse and Cassandra Darrah went the distance on the mound in the 9-3 victory. The win propelled the Badgers to the title game against Minnesota, setting up a rematch of sorts.
The Gophers earned the series win over the Badgers on April 6-7, despite a no-hitter from senior Meghan McIntosh. Pitching in her third-straight game, Darrah took matters into her own hands, holding Minnesota to just two hits. Wisconsin's offense continued to impress, scoring nine runs on seven hits.
The victory marked the fourth-seeded Badgers' first Big Ten tournament championship and secured the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA tournament, their first appearance in the national event since 2005 and fourth in program history.
Darrah was named the Big Ten tournament's Most Outstanding player after posting a 3-0 record and pitching all 21.0 innings over the tournament. Darrah, together with LaJeunesse and Maria Van Abel, was named to the 2013 Big Ten All-Tournament team.
Jeff Lewis will be asked to make the transition from the offensive backfield to the defensive backfield when the Badgers convene for fall camp in August.
Gary Andersen played a hunch during his first year as Utah State's head coach, and it paid dividends for the Aggies and Curtis Marsh, a running back that Andersen converted into a cornerback.
Prior to Andersen's arrival, Marsh started three games in each of his first two seasons at Utah State and finished as the team's third leading rusher in 2007 and 2008.
Overall, Marsh had 124 carries for 487 yards. He also had 28 catches. Upon taking over the program, Andersen was looking to plug some holes and shifted Marsh to the secondary in 2009.
"It was maybe my idea,'' Andersen said, "but it was his athleticism and his God-given ability and his want-to that made him able to turn himself into a very good corner in two short years.''
Marsh was a quick study. As a senior, he was Utah State's sixth-leading tackler and earned second-team All-WAC recognition. In the 2011 draft, he was taken in the third round by Philadelphia.
During his first two seasons in the National Football League, the 6-foot-1, 197-pound Marsh has appeared in 22 games, mostly on special teams for the Eagles. He owes it all to a position change.
During a Wednesday radio interview, Andersen said, "It has worked for me in the past -- very well sometimes and sometimes it doesn't work so well moving a running back over there (defense).''
In 2007, Andersen was the defensive coordinator at Utah and got considerable mileage out of cornerback Sean Smith, a converted wide receiver. He was Miami's second-round pick in the 2009 draft.
Citing such personnel moves in general, Andersen said, "You have to be creative sometimes. Every team in the country has holes, they have issues, they have scenarios they go through.''
The Badgers, for example, are seeking to replace three starting defensive backs: Marcus Cromartie, Devin Smith and Shelton Johnson. Safety Dez Southward is the lone returning starter.
During spring practice, Reggie Mitchell, a converted cornerback, got most of the reps opposite Southward. But Mitchell, a redshirt freshman from Pittsburgh, Pa., has since opted to transfer.
Additionally, a potential safety candidate, junior college transfer Donnell Vercher (Fresno City College), will not be attending Wisconsin, prompting Andresen to get "creative'' with his depth chart.
"I have great respect for Reggie and I have great respect for Donnell,'' Andersen said. "We'll move on, we'll still turn on the lights and we'll still jump out there the first day of fall camp. There are a couple of pieces to the puzzle. Dez is the foundation of that safety group and he will continue to be and we will continue to build some young men there (around Southward).''
The first order of business was moving tailback Jeff Lewis to safety. Lewis is a 6-2, 212-pound redshirt junior from Brookfield Central. Last season, he had four rushes for 13 yards while serving as an understudy to Montee Ball and James White. In 2011, he had 33 carries for 187 yards and one score.
"We're going to experiment with that (move) and see how that goes through the summer for him (Lewis) as he prepares himself to play some safety,'' said Andersen, who obviously won't be able to fully evaluate the switch until fall camp. "He's excited and we'll just see how it goes.
"It doesn't always work,'' he reiterated, "but Jeff was unbelievably receptive. He's a tough young man. I don't know how many times he got tackled in the spring. But it was a lot. He played the last practice with a broken thumb and he just kept on banging because he knew the team needed him.''
Andersen also feels comfortable with some of his other options.
"We'll be OK, we'll be just fine at that spot,'' he said. "We didn't really have a starter at the safety position (opposite Southward). As we went through (spring), Reggie did some good things; some other kids did some good things. Trotter and the gang will handle it well and we'll play well back there.''
Michael Trotter, a redshirt junior from Racine, Wis., started three games at safety last season after Shelton Johnson was injured at Oregon State. Michael Caputo, a redshirt sophomore from Imperial, Pa., also received some playing time. Andersen expects other candidates to emerge at safety and corner.
One could be freshman Keelon Brookins, a mid-term high school graduate. Brookins didn't get on the field during the spring because he was rehabbing from a knee injury. The 5-11, 201-pound Brookins, who's from St. Paul, Minn., blew out his ACL during his senior year at Tartan High School.
Cornerback Sojourn Shelton, who's from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and came early in with Brookins, had a solid spring game. "I expect Sojourn to compete and be on the field in the fall in some areas,'' Andersen said. "As far as how much he's involved in special teams and the defense, time will tell.''
Andersen stressed that Shelton needs "to take a step forward in the summer'' phase of training or what Andersen likes to refer as the Third Quarter. On his calendar, the First Quarter is winter conditioning, the Second Quarter is spring ball and the Fourth Quarter is the season.
"I really believe that you win games in the third quarter -- it's the time that team comes together,'' said Andersen, noting the importance of developing leaders from "being together in those situations when the coaches aren't around and they have to coach each other for running practices.''
The Badgers are in the midst of their summer camp season. On Saturday, they will play host to their youth camp-- kindergarten through eighth grade -- at Camp Randall Stadium. The one-day only session will run from 10:30 a.m. through 4 p.m. Parents are welcome to attend.
If you're asking if Vince Lombardi could still be successful in today's NFL, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez is answering, "Absolutely, no question. Good coaches are flexible. They adjust.''
Vincent Thomas Lombardi was born on June 11, 1913 in Brooklyn, N.Y.
In honor of what would have been Lombardi's 100th birthday on Tuesday -- he passed away in 1970 -- many have reflected on his Hall of Fame coaching career with the Green Bay Packers.
Celebrating his legacy, ESPN named Lombardi as the Greatest Coach in NFL History as part of its series on the top 20 coaches of all-time. TV analysts and sportswriters made up the selection panel.
"When I think of Lombardi, I think of discipline,'' said Alvarez, 66, the former UW head coach, who's a member of multiple halls of fame, including the Rose Bowl and College Football. "I also think of someone who had a great understanding of the game.
"Lombardi was meticulous like Woody Hayes (the former Ohio State coach). The way Lombardi coached football was not real fancy, but it was done right. It was about fundamentals -- that was driven into you -- and you were going to do the same things over and over until you perfected them.
"When I was in high school and college (in the '60s), Green Bay had made the turn and had become the best team in football. Everybody thought of Lombardi the same way; the same way you think of him today. Greatest of all-time? You can't argue against Lombardi.''
But could he survive in today's game?
"I think so because he would have had control of the franchise,'' Alvarez said. "He would have run the team and he would have been as strong as any player on that team. It would be unlike a lot of pro teams where a coach comes in and it's a temporary stop.
"If you don't get along with the $20 million-dollar-a season guy, it's short-lived. If you don't get along with the owner, it's short-lived. That would not have happened to Lombardi. The way Green Bay was structured, and considering how powerful he was, it reminds me of Bill Belichick in New England.''
As far as Lombardi dealing with today's easily-distracted athletes, Alvarez said, "All we ever hear about is how tough he was, but let's not forget about some of the players that he had -- like Paul Hornung and Max McGee. Those guys raised as much hell as anybody.''
One of the time-honored stories in the NFL was McGee breaking curfew and partying into the early morning hours before the first Super Bowl thinking that he wouldn't have to play against the Kansas City Chiefs. But after Boyd Dowler was injured, a hung-over McGee was forced into action.
McGee caught the first touchdown pass and finished with seven catches for 138 yards.
"All of the players respected Lombardi, but they still got away with a little bit, too,'' said Alvarez, chuckling. "Can you imagine today with all the social media coverage if someone went out until the wee hours of the morning before a Super Bowl? But Lombardi could adapt to that stuff.''
Rounding out the top five behind Lombardi on ESPN's list of greatest NFL coaches was Bill Walsh, Don Shula, George Halas and Chuck Noll. Growing up in Burgettstown, Pa., some 25 miles outside of Pittsburgh, Alvarez was well aware of Noll's success in resurrecting the Steelers.
"I looked up to and respected a lot of NFL coaches, but I really liked Noll because that was a bad outfit that he turned into a great outfit,'' Alvarez said. "I liked coaches who did it the right way with fundamentals, toughness, good defense and hard-nosed football. I loved guys who coached that way.''
Nobody should be surprised, since it was also the Alvarez way of coaching.
Tasha and I with Dorcas, one of the grandmothers from our homestay
What a week!
We finished teaching the health promoter women, and one Maasai man, on Wednesday. They were so inspiring to teach and to watch learn!
Isack, the Maasai man, really fascinated me because Maasai is his first language, Swahili his second, and English his third. While we would teach in English, one of the women of the Nikumbuke Project would translate what was said to Swahili, but it was never translated to Maasai. Then, Isack would answer questions or make a statement and he would say it in English! How impressive. I could not believe it, especially that what he was talking about was consistently a rather complicated health topic and he was able to understand and carry a conversation about it!
One of the women making Chapati for dinner, which is a a thick flour tortilla
On Thursday, we gave the health promoters their final exam, which they needed to pass in order to become official health promoters for their villages. Each health promoter passed and even a few received a perfect score! It really reiterated to us as a group that what we were doing was truly making a difference and that our teaching had gone extremely well.
Friday was our last official day working with the health promoters. We designated Friday to a Domestic Violence Workshop and shared knowledge about domestic violence in relation to physical health and mental health. Although we were nervous at first to discuss such a taboo topic in Kenya, we were relieved when the women began to open up about their experiences and even Isack was interested in learning ways to begin to put an end to domestic violence in their villages.
It was an emotional day but also an extremely rewarding day. Because the women were able to tell us their personal experiences regarding such a triggering topic, we were able to feel how deeply we have connected with them over the past couple of weeks and the lifelong relationship that has been created.
Our last full day in the Lunga Lunga village was on Saturday. There was a huge celebration for Health by Motorbike and the Nikumbuke Project, with our group as the guests of honor. Women of Lunga Lunga were up all night preparing food for the celebration. The entire night was spent laughing -- for hours straight -- with no care in the world!
The morning of the celebration the Maasai arrived on a red pickup truck, standing in the bed packed up like little sardines, with the radio blasting as they danced the entire way! Over 300 women attended, with seven villages present and two Maasai tribes. Personally, I think the women of these villages should have been the guests of honor due to their aura, eagerness to learn, continual happiness each day and for what they have taught us.
The celebration lasted five hours, four of which consisted of nonstop dancing and singing, no exaggeration!
Each village performed their own song and dance for us as a welcome and performed another to present us with gifts. For these villages to all present us with gifts was truly heartwarming. Each of these villages in Eastern Kenya suffer from extreme poverty, barely earning enough money to feed their families, and here they were smiling, dancing, yelling and giving us gifts to say thank you. It truly represented how big their hearts were and how thankful they were to have us as guests in their homes over the past two weeks.
The Maasai driving into Lunga Lunga for our celebration day on Saturday
Not only did each village perform, but we performed as a group for them! Although our voices were not as beautiful as theirs, probably more tone deaf than anything, they loved our performance. We did our own dance and song to Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus. (Maybe I will post the video later, but I will give fair warning, you may want to mute the volume to save your ears from our highly untalented voices).
At the end of the celebration, we presented each health promoter with an official UW-Madison diploma to signify their graduation as a health promoter. Needless to say, there were many tears and gratifying feelings. It was such a powerful day, if only I could have captured the happiness, feeling of community and thankfulness to keep it in a jar forever.
We began our long trek back to Nairobi at 4 a.m. on Sunday morning. The bus ride back took nearly 12 hours. We saw a HUGE giraffe in its natural habitat on the side of the road!
A few of the women huddled up during their review for the final exam, playing Jeopardy
For the next couple of days we will be staying at KICOSHEP again. On Monday we will be going to a baby elephant sanctuary, a giraffe sanctuary and then to a women's group in Nairobi that does beading to make jewelry.
Although this journey is coming to an end, what I have learned from the people of Kenya, especially the women I have had the opportunity to work with, will last forever. I can truly say that I have felt so at peace, in my element and so happy during this entire journey.
The only other time I have truly felt this way is while being on the ice and playing the sport I love. To have found something else to bring that kind of passion to has been life-altering and exciting. My sport has allowed me to feel this passion and this journey has allowed me to learn how to put forth that passion to help others and be the change that I wish to see in the world.
This trip has also taught the effect a single smile can have on a person and their heart. Although we did not speak Swahili very well, we were able to learn how much a smile, the simple touch of a loving hand, or the sound of laughter can impact, not only the people of Kenya, but also ourselves.
A view from Wasini Island last weekend
I am forever changed from this journey and only wish that more people get the opportunity to experience what I have. In order to see change, we must do much more than believe; we must put forth our faith, passion and knowledge to make the world a better place for all.
Thank you so much for following me during this journey! I hope I was able to share with you what I have experienced and have inspired you to find your passion and change the world through your passion!
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!
Sorry it has been a few days since my last post! We have been quite busy in Lunga Lunga!
On Tuesday, we took a motorbike ride to the woodcarvers just across the border towards Tanzania. These men have incredible talent! They stay in their straw mud huts 24/7 carving decorations out of wood. They make everything from little wooden zebras and elephants, to 36-inch tall giraffes, to salad bowls and tongs. You can see every single detail within the carving as well. I cannot wait to show everyone what I bought!
On Wednesday we took a two-hour motorbike ride out to the Maasai. The Maasai are a very traditional Kenyan tribe who continue to isolate themselves and refuse to integrate into the village life. They wear blue, red and purple robes with big jewelry and ear piercings that they make themselves. The Maasai do not speak Swahili, but speak their own language. We were at the Maasai for almost five hours and could not interact with them by talking, because we did not know the language. However, we were able to communicate with smiles, laughter and games. I bought a soccer ball in Mombasa which I brought with me to the Maasai. We played soccer with the kids for hours, gave them candy and sang songs.
While with the Maasai, Dr. Mwangi and the rest of us were able to see 100 patients, most of which had upper respiratory infections, skin diseases and infections, and UTI’s. Around 4 p.m., the Maasai cooked for us. Our late lunch consisted of goat and rice, which you ate with your hands. It was very interesting, to say the least. The Maasai women then presented us with jewelry that they made by hand for each of us. It was a great deal that the Maasai loved us and welcomed us “mzungus” (westerners), into their home and land.
On Friday night we stayed at the homes of the women we are teaching. Although we ate dinner at our camp before leaving for our homestays, the women still insisted upon cooking a feast for us. Tasha and I stayed together at grandmother Dorcas’ house just down the road from Lunga Lunga. She cooked us fish, chicken, potatoes, rice, and chipati. It was amazing!
The grandchildren performed a number of songs and dances for us also. Grandma Dorcas then gave us each a conga skirt as a gift and a thank you for visiting Kenya. She asked us to be her Rafiki and to write from America. Grandma Dorcas kept saying to us “Nikumbuke in America”, which means “Remember me in America”. We may go back and stay another night this week because we loved it so much!
Yesterday, we traveled to Diani Beach to swim in the Indian Ocean. We took the 14 women we are teaching with us to the beach. It was their first time in the ocean and at the beach! There were so many smiles and so much laughter the entire day! We stayed in the water for hours and had an absolute blast.
One of the women said to me, “I am so happy. Today is for me. Not for my husband. Not for my children. Not for my family. Today is for me. Thank you so much”. It truly blessed my heart! To be able to participate in this journey has been amazing and to be able to make so many people smile has been such an amazing feeling and experience.
Yesterday we had a break in the teaching, educating and sharing of knowledge amongst the women. Our group from Wisconsin took a trip to Wasini Island where we were given a tour of the caves in which slaves were kept in before being shipped to Mombasa during the African Slave Trade. We then toured Wasini Island, which is an island off the coast of Kenya that is inhabited by people, but has no running water, electricity, or farming. We were also able to get American food for lunch at a restaurant in one of the beach towns near Wasini Island. That food was much needed after two weeks of rice, beans, and cabbage at every meal!
We began teaching the women on Thursday. It seems to be going well. On Thursday we taught anatomy, on Friday we taught pregnancy and maternal health, and today (Monday) Tracey and I taught nutrition.
It went extremely well- all the women loved how interactive our nutrition lesson was. After the morning session, the women thanked Tracey and I for being such great teachers and told us multiple times how much they learned from us. They seem very excited to bring the information they have learned about nutrition back to their communities and villages. I think they are most enthusiastic about our lesson because it pertains to something they do every single day, multiple times a day -- cooking.
We are so thrilled that our teaching is going well and we are able to educate these women and also learn from them as we teach!
This last week will be very busy and a bit stressful with all the teaching we must get done, but it is truly amazing to be able to share knowledge with these women and know that we are making a difference. It is hard to write every detail in these posts because so much has happened! But I hope I am able to share a taste of what we are doing here in Kenya and am able to briefly touch on all the activities and experiences we are encountering.