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November 2013 Archives

Better Know a Badger: Conor O'Neill

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After three seasons as a backup, which included a pair of position switches, and playing on special teams, LB Conor O'Neill earned the opportunity to start this season as a senior. He hasn't disappointed and ranks fourth on the Badgers in tackles (39) and is tied for fourth in both tackles for loss (4.5) and sacks (2.0). He has helped the Wisconsin defense to a No. 6 national ranking, allowing only 278.5 yards per game, including only 99.1 yards per game on the ground, which ranks No. 7 in the country. O'Neill and his 25 fellow seniors will play their final game at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday.
What clicked for you during spring practice that put you in a position to start?
"I realized that time was running out for me very quickly. To have a new coaching staff and have a new scheme, I felt it was the best time for me to take advantage of the opportunity in front of me as a senior and get some playing time. I also knew that I had to work hard to make it a reality. The new 3-4 scheme fits my playing style more than the previous 4-3 did. I feel like I am able to be a bit more free (in the defense) and able to run to the ball more."
What has it meant to you to get the chance to start as a senior?
"As much as I would have liked to play as an underclassmen, to finish the way I have as a senior has been a dream come true. To earn the starting job, to be able to play as much as I have, to be a part of this class and be a part of something special like our defense has been this season, it means a lot to me."
What has it been like to be a part of the defense's success this season?
"It has been awesome. People doubted us coming in to fall camp, and to see our guys grow on the back end and in the front seven, and to see how we've bonded to become a dominant defense, has been truly unbelievable."
This senior class has been one of the most successful in school history, what has it meant to you to be a part of that?
"We are a bunch of guys that, four or five years ago, came in and knew that we had to work. That was shown to us by the seniors when we got here and I hope that, when we leave, that is what we will instill in the younger guys -- that this is a program where you have to work every single day. That shows in the results that we have had on the field. To be a part of all of these guys and be a part of something special has meant a lot."
What type of relationships has this senior class developed?
"Five years ago we all came in and had the goal to be a great class and I think that we have done that. All of us can say that we've built lifelong relationships among all of us. We know that five or 10 years down the road, when we have reunions and stuff, and even in the month-to-month and week-to-week, we'll keep in touch with each other. I definitely feel like we've built friendships for a lifetime."
What is the favorite memory from your Badgers career?
"This year and just having the opportunity to start. We've also had the Rose Bowls, the Big Ten championships and taking down a No. 1 (Ohio State) team. Even just the highs and lows of the journey has made for an awesome ride. But, to end it like this, has been awesome. It has been unbelievable."
What will you miss most about playing at Wisconsin?
"Just being around the guys. This is an awesome team with the relationships, the camaraderie and the brotherly love that we have for each other. I feel like we have guys that will go to war for each other and take bullets for each other, just because of all of the things that we have been through. We also have the greatest fans in the world, there is no doubt about that. I am definitely going to miss that and am just going to miss being around the guys a lot."

- Ryan Evans

The Voice: Leaders all, this senior class will be missed


Other than to say it has been warm and humid here in Mexico this week, I will avoid any further weather details as Bo Ryan's basketball team as it makes its way back home after playing in the Cancun Challenge.

Tropical conditions aside, the competition continues to be serious for the Badgers, with more of the same on the horizon next week. After returning to Madison, the Badgers will hit the road next Wednesday to play Virginia in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Three days later, Marquette comes to the Kohl Center.

Not exactly Cupcake City for this group.

I have to say I am eager to get home -- cold weather and all -- as the Badgers football team prepares for its home finale against Penn State.

While there will be no Big Ten championship game for this year's team, there is much at stake this Saturday. The Badgers are vying to go unbeaten at home for the third time in four years. A 10th win would make it four years out of five that Wisconsin has hit double digits in victories. The seniors are looking for a 24th conference win, which would be the most in a four-year span.

Talk about consistency. That defines this senior class. A low-maintenance group that wins and wins the right way. Good students. Leaders on the field. Leaders in the community.

Not a bad way to represent your university.

As always, emotions will run high before, during and after Saturday's game. It is always interesting to talk to players before that last home appearance. They realize the clock is ticking, but you get the impression some of them would love to call a timeout.

"I don't really want to think about it," said linebacker Ethan Armstrong. "I'm still in the denial stage. Maybe I will figure out a way to have one more year."

Like many on this team, it has been a wild ride for Armstrong, who has battled through numerous injuries to carve out an excellent college career. Not that he has taken a ton of time to think about it.

"I'll probably appreciate it when I'm old, fat and retired," Armstrong said with a smile.

Coming off one of the coldest games in Wisconsin football history, there is at least one player who is rooting for Old Man Winter to make another appearance.

"I've been telling guys that I would be happy if it snowed for our last game," said Conor O'Neill of Delray Beach, Fla. Yeah, that is correct -- a Florida native wants snow this Saturday.

"I think it would be fitting for our senior class. We haven't played in a real snow game."

For the record, the last time I can remember a measureable snowfall for UW football was the 1994 spring game. The players started having snowball fights during the game. But let Conor have his dream, OK?

Snow or no snow. Bitter cold or relatively mild, it is another huge game for the Badgers. Senior Day alone makes it big, but with the home team still jockeying for position in the BCS standings, it is one more chance to make an impression on the voters.

Those folks should be impressed with what they have seen the last two months. It is a hungry team that is winning in dominant fashion.

"It starts with the guys in the locker room," said Armstrong. "They expect to be great, and they demand that of themselves and of this team. The coaching staff does as well. Of themselves and of this team."

Quarterback Curt Phillips agrees. He has appeared in just two games this season, but Phillips is as respected as anyone in the program. And he has nothing but respect for what he has seen in the last year.

"Coach Andersen and his staff, and the spark they provided," Phillips said. "Coach Alvarez holding down the fort with everything he did last year to coach us in the Rose Bowl. It is special."

So is this senior class. Winners in every way. I look forward to seeing them play in front of the home crowd one more time.

Packer's Perspective: Back from frigid North Dakota

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It was a big weekend for the Badgers with not much excitement but the games themselves. It was frigid cold in Grand Forks (the wind chill was -27 when we woke up Saturday), and the cold weather outside helped us stay focused in to the task at hand. We had a lot of down time with two late night games, but it was good to get extra recovery time, and also have consistency in our schedule over the weekend with games being at the same time each night.

Friday night was a good, tough battle, and Alex Rigsby stood tough for us between the pipes all the way through the end, shutting UND out not only in the game and overtime, but also during the three player shootout. Junior forward Blayre Turnbull executed an awesome move as the final shooter to capture the shootout win and allow us to skate through the first night winning an extra point. The first game was good, and it was nice to walk away with an extra point, but after the game we agreed as a team we could come out stronger.

We rallied together after Friday's game and came out flying Saturday night. We played as a team, executed well and took advantage of the chances that came our way. Junior forward Karley Sylvester scored a huge shorthanded goal to put us ahead, and capitalizing in the third period on a few power play opportunities allowed for us to end the night on top 3-1. We played great as a team overall in Grand Forks, and walking away with 5 out of 6 points on the road, especially in a place like North Dakota is something we are very happy with as a team.

We enjoyed the victory on the plane, and also celebrated a bit with the women's volleyball team (who swept over the weekend vs. Michigan State and Michigan) as we picked them up at the airport after their bus broke down.

 It was a great weekend, and it was nice to spend the off day Sunday relaxing, and also catching up on the release of the hot new Hunger Games film. Most of the team made their way over to the theater at some point Sunday to see the movie, and all were in agreement that it was worth the price of admission. Following the Hunger Games, a number of us relaxed while doing homework and also watching the American Music Awards.

The weekend was a success, but the work is not done yet. The team hits the ice again Monday to go to work in preparation for the upcoming games in Duluth. It is a tough stretch of games on the road, with each and every point weighing heavily on our status heading into the holiday break. The team looks forward to preparing this week to take care of business in Duluth, and we hope to keep the train rolling as we continue on to our ultimate goal. Until next time, thanks for reading, On Wisconsin!

 - Madison

Dance Fever: UW makes most of appearance in Big Dance

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The Wisconsin men's soccer team has seen its fair share of dark days since its last postseason berth in 1995.

To put that into perspective, the last time UW appeared in the NCAA tournament, the 'World Wide Web' was four years young and Bill Clinton was serving his first term in office.

That 18-year drought ended Monday, as the 19th-ranked Badgers saw their name appear on the 2013 NCAA bracket.

To make the accomplishment even sweeter, UW was granted a first-round home match at a venue the team had not lost at in over a year.

"A long waiting period for the guys on the team as well as the staff," UW head coach John Trask explained. "To get rewarded with our body of work and be in the NCAA Tournament after 18 years here at the University of Wisconsin, it's more than exciting."

In its first postseason appearance (aside from Big Ten tournament) in nearly two decades, the Badgers outdueled in-state rival Milwaukee to extend the nation's longest current home unbeaten streak to 14 matches.

"It just shapes up for a great game, and it's what the NCAA Tournament is all about," Trask said. "You've got two very good, very hungry teams that haven't played each other in a long time but w're very aware of the success they've had. 

"I think it shapes up for just an excellent night of soccer."

All of the ingredients are there for UW to make an NCAA tournament run: leadership from 13 seniors, the highest scoring offense in the Big Ten, a hunger to make even more history.

Wisconsin has waited nearly two decades for an opportunity to make another run at a national title, similar to what it did in 1995. And Trask believes his team's best days are still ahead of them.

"I think there's more in this team," Trask said. "I've said it consistently to them. I'll say it publicly. I still don't think we've seen the best soccer out of this group of players."

Packer's Perspective: Going up north

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Time to hit the ice again, as we have arrived in Grand Forks, N.D., and are ready to go to work this weekend. We left early Thursday morning, loaded up the bus and headed to the airport, taking a quick charter flight to Grand Forks. The ground was covered in snow and the bitter cold was a rude awakening early this morning. Practice went well, and the team had a good jump despite spending time on the plane and being carted around by various buses.

The highlight of the trip thus far has been the bowling tournament, although there was a fun crafts show set up in the lobby of the hotel where a few players bought some goodies. The bowling tournament was comprised of our team broken up into six smaller teams. It was friendly competition, and the Johnson family proved to be the best bowlers as Coach Johnson and Mikayla were unstoppable on the alley. 

The tournament was a fun change of pace, a great team bonding activity, and a good way to keep busying during the long block of free time. The team will have a pregame skate before Friday's game to go over systems and get our legs moving. We are looking forward to the first game as series with North Dakota are always high tempo and intense. These games are of utmost importance regarding to not only national ranking, but also the battle for the top three spots in the WCHA. 

We have prepared well all week for the series and are looking forward to working for a few road wins this weekend. The games begin tomorrow night at 7 p.m. and hope all those back home can take some time to tune in and watch us battle for bragging rights. Check back in at the end of the weekend for an overview and hopefully some positive feedback regarding the games this weekend.

Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin!

- Madison

Better Know a Badger: Sojourn Shelton

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Freshmen don't often make as immediate an impact as CB Sojourn Shelton has for the Badgers this season. The Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., native is the first freshman to start at corner for Wisconsin since former first team All-Big Ten selection Scott Starks did so in 2001. He is tied for the Big Ten lead in interceptions this season with four to go along with 27 tackles. His early success has many believing Shelton can follow in the steps of Wisconsin cornerback legends like Starks and Thorpe Award winner Jamar Fletcher.

Did you expect to start right away as a true freshman?
"I didn't. I saw my role as someone who filled in, but my personal goal was to be starting by mid-season. I didn't see myself as starting the whole season as a true freshman. It's definitely surprising, but it's something that I've been working for since spring. The guys have helped me prepare for this role and I think it has gone pretty well so far."

What was the most difficult part of the transition from high school to college?
"The details of it. In high school there weren't that many details. You could just go out there, get the call and play. In college there are a lot more details. You have to know your role and your assignments in every possible situation. You have to make calls as a corner, as well, which you never do in high school. As a corner, you have to make calls to the defense to alert them that something is up."

Did enrolling early and participating in spring practice help you?
"It helped a lot. The biggest thing that it helped was that it allowed me to gain weight. I knew that I could play once I got around the guys in the secondary and learned from Coach (Ben) Strickland, it was just a matter of if I was going to be able to put on the necessary weight. I think that's the biggest thing that coming in early helped me with. It taught me how to go about things in the weight room, how to eat the right way and put on as much weight as I could."

Which upperclassmen have you learned the most from?
"All of them. So many of these guys took me under their wing. Dez (Southward) did and James White has, too. James has looked out for me so much and been like a big brother to me. We're from the same city (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and we knew each other before I came here. When we went home for the summer we went together and I felt like a little brother to him in the airport. He was leading the way. A lot of guys have taken me under their wing, but James has been there every step of the way for me. He's been my support system. I know that if anything goes wrong or if I need to talk about something I can give him a call and he'll lead me in the right direction."

You got the chance to talk to Jamar Fletcher earlier this season, what did you take away from that conversation?
"To be able to talk to somebody who won a Thorpe Award, that's a great opportunity. One day, hopefully and God-willing, I can be in that position. Talking to him was great. I got a chance to hear his story and how he played, which was helpful because I resemble him a lot being a small corner. Being around somebody who has done it, who has played at the next level and been successful here at UW, it was a great experience. Hopefully I get the chance to run into him again."

Coming from Florida, what made Wisconsin the right choice for you?
"The family-like environment. We're all a big family and that's the best part. It has made the transition coming from somewhere so far away so easy. The guys all take you under their wings and make sure that you're fine and make sure everything is going OK. It has been a blessing for me to come here and I'm happy with the decision I've made. I wouldn't take it back for anything."

How much did you know about the Wisconsin-Minnesota rivalry before this season?
"I didn't know a lot, to be honest. I grew up on the Florida State-Miami rivalry. That's the rivalry that I knew the most about. The minute I touched down and walked around this facility, though, I learned about it pretty quick. I saw the emphasis on keeping the Axe here, learned about the great moments in the rivalry and the hatred between the teams, and I'm ready to see the excitement firsthand, especially going on the road. Going to Minnesota, with both of us 8-2, I'm ready to be in that hostile environment and participate in the first of the many games I'll be playing in."

- Ryan Evans

Kaminsky, scoring 'trendy' topics on historic night

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Tuesday evening, Frank Kaminsky entered the Kohl Center boasting a career average of 3.2 points per game and a total of 26 points scored on the season. The UW junior exited the Kohl Center that night with a school record and whole lot of fame.

Thanks to his 43-point outburst in a 103-85 win over North Dakota, Kaminsky set the UW single-game record, a mark that had stood since 1965. He also set off a firestorm of chatter, headlining everything from ESPN's SportsCenter to trending worldwide on Twitter.

A few of Tuesday's tweets:

With each of his six 3-pointers and 16 total baskets, Kaminsky's celebrity status rose, as did his place in history. Let's examine that:

- Kaminsky's 43 points are the most scored by a Division I player this season.

- Kaminsky's 43 points equals the mark set by Illinois' Brandon Paul against Ohio State on 1/20/12 as the most by a Big Ten player since 1996-97. In fact, the Big Ten has produced only four 40-point games in the last 18 seasons.

- Over the last 15 years, Kaminsky and Central Michigan's Chris Kaman are the only 7-footers to score 40 points in a game.

- Kaminsky is one of just four Division I players since 1996-97 to score 43 points and shoot at least 84.0 percent from the field in a game.

- Kaminsky is one of four players to score at least 43 points against a Division 1 opponent in 28 minutes or less since 1996-97. The last player to do it was Davidson's Stephen Curry (43 points in 27 minutes vs. Appalachian State, 2009).

The Voice: Badgers, Gophers storming into showdown


OK, how many of you had Wisconsin holding Indiana to 3 points last Saturday?  I would guess very few, if any, expected such a shutdown performance. After all, going into the weekend, the Hoosiers had scored at least 28 points in 10 straight games.

So much for that streak.

Through ten games this season, Wisconsin has held half of its opponents without a touchdown. No matter the era, that is an impressive stat. In this day of spread-you-out, fast football, keeping five opponents out of the end zone is borderline mind-boggling.

As the Badgers get ready to face Minnesota in the annual Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe, they know another big-boy effort is needed in all phases.

On multiple occasions, I have written and talked about the rivalry, and how much fun it is to watch every year. This time around is even better. Why? Because the Gophers are good, and the stakes are high for both programs.

While the Badgers continue a slow climb up the BCS standings (UW is 19th this week), Minnesota checks in at No. 25. Both teams are 8-2, and both teams are rolling. The Gophers have won four straight, while the Badgers have won five in a row.

Rivalry aside, how can you not appreciate what the Gophers are accomplishing as head coach Jerry Kill works to get his health back in order? There can be very little argument that to this point in the season, Minnesota has been the league's most pleasant surprise.

While not such a surprise, the Badgers deserve a ton of credit themselves. They have managed to overcome two tough losses in September. Since then, they have done nothing but win in convincing fashion. The Badgers are playing as well as anyone in the Big Ten, and to date, continue to state a case -- on the field, and not through the media -- why they should be ranked higher than 19th.

By the way, if you are going to TCF Bank Stadium, bundle up. The forecast for this Saturday calls for a game-time temperature of about 20 degrees, which would be in the top five -- or perhaps bottom five -- coldest temps at kickoff in UW football history.

*  *  *  *

Part of what makes watching sports so enjoyable is we never know for sure what is going to happen. In the last week, Badgers football and basketball fans have witnessed history.

First, it was James White's 93-yard touchdown run against Indiana. It is the longest run from scrimmage in program history.

Tuesday night at the Kohl Center, Frank Kaminsky's 43 point effort against North Dakota set a UW single game record. Talk about efficiency -- Kaminsky needed just 19 shots. He made 16, including for 6-for-6 from 3-point range.

North Dakota's Troy Huff wasn't too bad, either. The former Brookfield Central standout dropped in 37 points. Both Huff and Kaminsky did their damage in just 28 minutes of playing time.

It was an entertaining night in what has been a fun start for Bo Ryan's team. An early-season storyline of different players stepping up is continuing. Kaminsky's historic night followed his critical contributions in the three-point victory against the Phoenix, when he scored 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots.

In the last two games, Bronson Koenig 's minutes have picked up, and he is playing well. At Green Bay, Koenig scored seven points and, on Tuesday, added five more.

Yes, this group wants to be better defensively, but the Badgers have faced good teams and some special individual players. So far, so good as Wisconsin's busy stretch of non-conference games continues.

Packer's Perspective: The Journey Continues

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BLOG_IMG_1558.jpgThis weekend was quite the trip for the Badger squad. We started off Friday morning with a pregame skate, followed by meal and some down time before the game. 

The game against Northeastern was a battle, one of the toughest fights we have had yet this season, but we came together as a group, worked hard until the end and pulled out a victory over NU, with a congratulations to freshman Jenny Ryan for both the game winner and her first goal as a Badger. 

Friday night was spent in our rooms for the most part. It was late by the time we got back to the hotel and most girls ate and then went up to relax and get to bed. 

Saturday we woke up and went for a nice team walk through the village to get our legs warmed up, followed by a team stretch before meal and watching at little film to prepare for the game against Boston University. We had some downtime after the meal before loading up the bus and heading to the rink. The game was very different from the night before, and we came out strong. Friday night we were still having difficulty adjusting to the altitude, but Saturday was a whole different story as our high conditioning level played to our advantage in our 5-0 victory over BU. 

After the game, we headed back to the hotel and met with our families. The team and families went out to a small restaurant in Vail to hang out with one another and enjoy some food before heading back to the hotel and taking advantage of one last night in the Rockies. 


We stayed at a remarkable hotel that had a beautiful spa consisting of four hot tubs and a heated pool so naturally we all threw on our hotel robes, and headed down to relax after a hard fought weekend. We hung out as a group in the hot tub before turning in for the night.


Sunday morning we got up and had some breakfast (breakfast sandwiches were amongst the favorite item on the menu) before heading over to the rink to run a clinic and meet some young, hopeful future Badgers. The team was tired, but we enjoyed giving back to the crowd that supported us over the weekend, and the turnout was much more than we had anticipated. After the clinic we hung around and mingled with the young skaters for a bit, signing autographs and taking pictures, then loaded up the bus and headed back to the hotel. We packed up our rooms and fully loaded the bus, as we had to be out of the hotel by noon, after which we had three hours to kill around town, so most of us went shopping and saw a little more of the town that we missed out on while restricted by our game schedule. We gathered up at about 3:30, got on the bus and are headed to Denver. We are very lucky as we had a charter airplane waiting for us that took us right back to Madison. 

Our games resume this weekend as we head up to North Dakota to take them on in their home arena. The UND series will be a hard fought battle, considering they just ended the 62 game unbeaten streak by the Gophers, but we are looking to put the same game together that we did for BU and work hard again as a group. 


The team returns to the ice today to begin preparing for UND, continuing on our journey to our ultimate goal. Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin!

- Madison

Inforgraphic: Badgers run over Indiana

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A graphical look at Wisconsin's 51-3 win over Indiana at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday:

The turnaround

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In today's Badger Blog, head coach Yvette Healy writes about the inspiration of a turnaround and shares inspiring stories of success. 

The Turnaround: It's what everyone is looking for in sports. How to go from good to great. How to change the culture of a program. How do you create a winning environment and establish a legacy when there are no All-Americans to set the tone, when there is no College World Series experience on the field. If you don't have the player of the year, pitcher of the year, newcomer of the year or coach of the year on your staff, how do you win conference, especially if it's for the first time in program history? 

We all love the turnaround, because it speak to our hearts. Deep down we all want to believe that anything is possible. We want sports to prove that regardless of who you are, where you're from, what your history is, or how things have always been, we all have a shot at greatness. We all have a chance to achieve in life, to overcome adversity, to change the course of history, create a new, successful path where we thrive instead of falter, where we flourish for years of prosperity, instead of repeating the same mistakes our parents and predecessors got trapped in.

I have three stories of turnaround that I've seen, experienced and lived. When you hear stories of turnaround, when you read about them, retell them and soak them in, they change your life. That pessimism that things don't change, those crippling subconscious doubts don't seem so logical anymore. There's a fundamental shift in your beliefs, in your outlook, and in your heart. Suddenly when you see the turnaround, and when you live it at your university, in your teams, and with your kids, you see eyes, hearts, and minds open up to the reality that anything is possible. Life doesn't have to be the same. History doesn't have to repeat itself, and the vicious cycle of loss, failure and negativity can be broken.

We're not there yet with our softball team at Wisconsin. We've shown moments of brightness, and glimpses of success, but we're far from arrived. My gratification at this moment comes from being on the path. The hearts and minds of our athletes, coaches and families are in the right place. The optimism and energy right now outweigh the lack of legacy, and struggles of the past. For me, that's progress and success. Being on the path, training, believing, setting the trajectory and moving in the right direction is a step towards greatness. No matter how small the step is, on a long and arduous journey, at least we're on that yellow brick road, and headed somewhere with a skip in our step.

I'll share those three stories of turnaround with you, and books and readings that supplement those messages. The first turnaround I witness is the most powerful one in my life. I've grown to appreciate it more with age, and after having kids of my own. The book I'd like to recommend is "Inside Out Coaching", by Joe Ehrmann. If you want to be great at what you do, you have to dig deep, understand yourself. "Inside Out Coaching" asks every coach four tough questions: Why do you coach? Why do you coach the way you do? What does it feel like to be coached by you? What's your definition of success? 

We have a bible study at UW and we're reading "Inside out Coaching". To answer the questions, "why do you coach", and "wdo you coach the way you do", the FCA bible study challenges coaches to understand themselves and their upbringing. Every person parents and coaches the way they were parented or coached, unless they make a conscious decision to change. This is a tough fact to swallow, especially if there are hurtful things in our past when our parents or coaches failed us. 

When I look at my past, I can't help but be amazed by my mom. Her grandparents were all born in Italy and Poland, and didn't speak English. Her parents, Grandma Helen and Grandpa Joe, worked in factories on the Southside of Chicago, and didn't have much more than an eighth grade education. The turnaround for our family, came when my mom chose to be the first one to go to college. She earned a four year RN degree, and eventually her master's degree in nursing, all while raising two girls, supporting our family and battling through a divorce. Her grit, selflessness and character are amazing. She changed the trajectory of our family and our lives. She sacrificed to send my sister and me to a Catholic high school, and always stressed the importance of faith, family, education and hard-work. 

I have a high level of respect and appreciation for anyone who overcomes tough odd in their lives, and accomplishes things that have never been done. The trailblazers are the most inspirational traveler. Anyone can walk through a door that's already been opened, and follow a crowd down a path that many have walked. It takes someone special to forge a new path, and go places that have never been seen.

I witnessed turnaround number two as a student-athlete at DePaul University in Chicago. While getting recruited by the Blue Demons, the team made its first two NCAA softball appearances, and was knocked out without a win in both. Our class wanted to make history at DePaul, we went on to earn two sweet sixteen appearances before advancing to the Women's College World series for the first time in program history in 1999, finishing tied for third in the country.  

This was a life-changing moment for our team, the student-athletes and families, and the program for years to come. Despite being a cold weather school in a small conference, over the past 15 years, DePaul has advanced to Women's College World Series four times. Clearly history has been changed and a winning legacy has been forged in that program. When I read books like, "How Children Succeed" by Paul Tough, it's no wonder that the education system in the US is making drastic curriculum changes to stop focusing so much on facts, figures and concentrated skills, but rather develop grit, character, and the ability to persevere through adversity to help children succeed in school, their careers and life. 

The final turnaround that I've witnessed has taken place here at Wisconsin. I'd like to say that I'm talking about our softball program, but we certainly aren't there yet. Yet one of the biggest reasons my family and I chose to leave Chicago and take a chance on a struggling Big Ten softball team, was the story of coach Alvarez's 1994 Rose Bowl Championship team. After 10 years without a Bowl appearance, new football coach Barry Alvarez turned Wisconsin football and the entire athletics department around with a Big Ten championship, a trip to the Rose Bowl and a momentous win over UCLA. 

This was a seminal moment in the success of UW athletics. The 1994 team's ability to win the Rose Bowl filled the stands here at Camp Randall, and started the push, excitement and influx of money that allowed for all of the amazing facilities, gear, budgets, and staff that we enjoy today. The success that Badger football, and the entire Wisconsin athletics department has had over the past twenty years can be traced back to this 1994 Rose Bowl team that over-achieved, made history, and put Wisconsin on the map. Beginning in 1994, Wisconsin has advanced to six Rose Bowl games. That's an amazing winning legacy, created and sustained right in front of our eyes.
One of the former players from the 1994 Rose Bowl team talks about why that team was so special. "I think of the type of guys that made up the lead¬ership of that team and just the character of the team," Saleh said. "I don't think everyone was highly touted coming out of high school.  Everyone had to earn it; nothing was really given anyone. We just had a group of guys who really liked football and, in general, we were good people; we had a good work ethic."

Coach Alvarez's book, "Don't Flinch" talks a lot about the turnaround for Wisconsin football, and the rise of a powerful and successful athletics department with a family atmosphere. 

Packer's Perspective: The Captains Take on Vail

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The time has finally come and we have arrived here in Vail, Colorado! We took off at about 6 a.m. this morning from Madison, on a chartered plane, and arrived in Denver about three hours later. The landing was amazing, dropping down in the middle of the Rockies and getting a view of the city early in the morning due to the time change. Once on the ground we loaded up the bus and drove through the mountains to get to Vail, a beautiful drive that was full of excitement and anticipation as we neared the rink. 

Senior Captain Alex Rigsby was happy to arrive in Vail, having visited the city numerous times, and is looking forward to a positive team experience.

 "There was a lot of excitement once we landed and started heading up the mountains," Rigsby said. "It's a new experience for a lot of girls, so it's awesome we are able to play in such an incredible environment. Practice went well and it is always good when showdown ends in a goalie win (that last point by Rigsby is highly debatable amongst other players)."

 Practice was short and to the point. Coach did a great job of keeping it simple, knowing the legs would be a little tired after the long trip. 

"After we landed I felt very excited," senior captain Kelly Jaminski said. "The first practice was an adjustment with the altitude but it was great to be on the ice with the girls and after we get a good nights rest I think we will be ready to go tomorrow." 

It was cool to see the other teams arrive while we were on the ice, and is a nice little camaraderie as we are staying in close proximity to one another in the rink all weekend, as well as all sharing the same hotel. Moving along with the amazing aspects of this trip...our hotel. We are in an awesome hotel right at the base of the mountains in the Vail village. 


After practice we headed over to the hotel, got checked in and instantly hit the city to explore. Most of us found our way to a great little pizza parlor in town and had a bite to eat after the long day of activity. We didn't stay out long as we don't want to wear ourselves out for the games, but it was nice to get out and enjoy the town a bit and take it all in. After seeing the town a bit, most of us headed back to get some homework done or relax and hang out with our families. It is a very cool trip and a lot of families made the trip so we are looking forward to some time with them when we can. When asked about the games, the captains all had similar takes. 

 "I'm really looking forward to competing against teams we never get to see and spending quality time the girls on the team as well as family members who are here to watch the games," Jaminski said. "We are really blessed to have this opportunity."

 "We were able to have some downtime after practice, so it was fun walking around the village and looking in all the shops," Rigsby said. "It's going to be a fun weekend."

 "This week I am looking forward to playing some really competitive out of conference games," Turnbull said. "We don't get the chance to play teams from the East Coast that often so it will be a great challenge for our team."

Personally, I'm really looking forward to a snowball fight with some of the locals, when it hopefully snows later this weekend. We're expected to get three to five inches of snow on Saturday. 

The first game is tomorrow night, and we look forward to what is sure to be a great experience. The rink is a tiny old school building, but is beautiful in its build and will create a great atmosphere tomorrow night as fans cram in to watch the action. We open up tomorrow night against Northeastern, and hope all those back home can tune in and cheer us on. 

Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin!

- Madison

Better know a Badger: Nate Hammon

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Redshirt freshman Nate Hammon has moved around a lot in his football career. A star quarterback at Milton (Wis.) High School, he moved to receiver his first year at Wisconsin before switching to safety prior to this season. The move is paying dividends, though, as Hammon -- who has 15 tackles and a sack this season -- has quickly become a stalwart in the Badgers' 3-4 defense and made his first career start last weekend against BYU.

What has been the most difficult part of transitioning from offense to defense?
"Tackling has definitely been the biggest thing. Growing up not tackling much and then getting thrown in to tackling in college football takes a lot of reps. You can do all the tackling drills you want, but until you actually get thrown out into a game situation you can't truly get the hang of it."

What have been the keys to your successful transition?

"I'm trying to be more confident and less timid. In the spring I was really timid and, as a result, missed a lot of tackles. I wasn't as physical as I needed to be and was thinking about everything way too much. I had to make everything a lot more natural, become more physical and play with more anger, as Coach (Bill) Busch would say."

Did you expect to be seeing the field this much so early in your career?
"No. After being a receiver last year, I didn't think I would see the field much. I even told my parents this year that if I even made the travel squad I'd be happy. I was just going to keep working and keep grinding. My initial goal was to make special teams, and I did that, so then I set the goal to see the field on defense. I learned from Dez (Southward), Mike (Caputo) and (Michael) Trotter and tried to work my way up."

You were used in single coverage assignments against BYU. Is that a role you welcome?

"I'm definitely comfortable doing that. I've been taking a lot of coaching from Coach Busch. Last week was the first time that I've ever gone against receivers, so that was a big change. It's a little bit harder because you're matching up with smaller and shiftier players and, if they get by you, it's harder to catch up compared to covering tight ends."

What have you shown the coaches that has you rapidly moving up the depth chart?

"I honestly don't know (laughs). I try my hardest to show what I can do in practice. Coach Busch likes having taller, longer-armed people covering tight ends, so I think my ability to go one on one against tight ends helped. That was my initial role and, from there, they are giving me bigger and bigger roles in the defense. I embrace anything they ask me to do each week. I'm just blessed to be seeing the field so much this early in my career."

How interchangeable are the OLBs and DBs in the 3-4 defense?
"You've seen Caputo do it and even I have done it a couple times. It's pretty interchangeable. DBs can move down in this defense and, compared to DEs, can play one on one and cover tight ends and slot receivers. It's pretty nice."

- Ryan Evans

The Voice: Andersen content to let Badgers' actions speak


While the Badgers slowly move up in the BCS rankings, coach Gary Andersen continues to stay above the fray. It is only natural for fans to be concerned, if not angry, at the lack of movement, but do not expect Andersen to publically campaign for more love from those who vote in the coaches and Harris polls.

"Not my style, not my deal," said the Badgers boss during this week's Big Ten coaches teleconference.

Different strokes for different folks. Andersen is extremely consistent in his stance. I asked him that very question a few weeks ago, and his answer was the same.

Maybe stating his team's case is unnecessary. A number of neutral observers, including ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit, continue to praise the 7-2 Badgers. Maybe it will make little if any difference, but it never hurts to have a national pundit remind fans and voters that one of those losses will always remain questionable (I'm being as nice as possible here), while the other setback was a one-score game at Ohio State.

If nothing else, it is refreshing to hear Herbstreit and colleague Rece Davis suggest that maybe the Big Ten Conference is better than advertised. Unbeaten Ohio State still needs help, but it is very much in the mix for a shot at the national title. Michigan State plays shutdown defense, and to this point is proving to be a very strong team.

Meanwhile, the Badgers are playing some of their best football. In addition to a high-powered offense, they also have one of the country's top defenses. That defensive group proved it again last week by slowing down a red-hot BYU offense for most of the day.

Another challenge is waiting this Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium. While Indiana has had a world of trouble trying to stop people, the IU offense is one of the best you will see. It is another team that pushes the pace -- to the tune of running a play every 19.3 seconds -- very much like BYU.

Even if fleet-footed running back Tevin Coleman is unable to go because of an ankle injury, the Hoosiers offense is loaded. Fellow RB Stephen Houston averages 7.3 yards per carry, and there are five players with 1,000-plus career receiving yards. It is the first time in league history that five receivers with those stats have played together.

Knowing that, it probably makes sense that Andersen and his team remain focused on preparing for a game, and not on stumping for votes.

*  *  *  *

It was a fun atmosphere Tuesday night for the Badgers basketball team's home opener against Florida. After Wisconsin's 59-53 victory against the Gators, I suggested to one of the players that, with the schedule they have to open the season, it is like jumping into the deep end of the pool.

"But we are swimming," the player responded.

Well played.

The season has just started, but it is encouraging to watch this young group pick off a couple of wins against good teams. Last Friday in Sioux Falls, S.D., Duje Dukan played well off the bench. Tuesday evening, freshman Nigel Hayes gave his team a lift. There has been good scoring balance, and when big shots are needed, the Badgers have made them.

It is way too early to draw any conclusions, but for a team with so many new faces, getting through the first two games is encouraging. Now they head to Green Bay for a Saturday night matchup against the Phoenix, a preseason favorite to win the Horizon League.

Bo Ryan's group will remain in the deep water, but it hopes to keep swimming as a busy month of November continues.

Packer's Perspective: Prepping for Vail

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Another weekend down, and many more to come for the Wisconsin team as we return to this ice for practice in preparation for the upcoming games in Vail. The weekend was a much needed break for the entire group and was a great chance to catch up on 'life as a normal kid'. The entire team had a variety of activities going on, but the highlight from what I heard was a team gathering at a local restaurant in town. I was home for the weekend, watching with my parents and sister as Michigan got their bums kicked by the Nebraska football team. 

While I was home however; many of my teammates hung around town. The team (minus a few of us) went to Samba, and enjoyed a nice variety of foods. Samba is a restaurant that is usually a pretty heavy meal and is a favorite among many in our locker room. Along with Samba, a few girls headed to Chicago to relax and have some fun. The weekend was a nice break, a great time to catch up with friends, get some work done, and most importantly get packed, as it meant fewer days between us and the trip to Vail.

As they hype from the weekend calms down a bit, practice will be daily as usual this week Monday-Wednesday, with two lifts sprinkled in, then we pack up early Thursday morning and head to Vail at about 6 a.m. The team is excited. Coach told us that we are a small part in history making as we prepare to play for the first time in the Rocky Mountains. As excited and prepared as we all are for the games, the girls are also looking forward to the experience. The uniforms we have planned and the atmosphere itself is a unique treat for women's hockey. This group has worked hard to hopefully make this trip both memorable and successful. We hope all fans can follow through the various outlets that will be covering our games this weekend, and I encourage you to tune in when you can as this is sure to be a weekend to remember.

 The team heads off Thursday morning. Check back in later this week for reactions from players after landing in Vail and taking the ice for the first time in the mountains! 

Until next time, thanks for reading and On Wisconsin!


Infographic: Badgers stifle BYU in 27-17 win

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A graphical look at Wisconsin's 27-17 win over BYU at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday:


UW in South Dakota vs. St. John's? How'd we get here?

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Sanford_UW_MBB_636.jpgPhoto Gallery 

MADISON, Wis. -- When the Badgers open the season Friday night, they will do so in atypical fashion, traveling to Sioux Falls, S.D. for a neutral-site contest with St. John's.

Wisconsin has not opened the season away from the Kohl Center since 2005 when they played in the Paradise Jam tournament in St. Thomas.

Further, UW hasn't opened against a team from one of the "Power 6" conferences since traveling to Tennessee to begin the 2000-01 season.

So how did we get here?

Two reasons: this game gives the Badgers a quality non-conference opponent on their schedule and UW gets to help out an old friend.

"This is a great RPI team," Ryan said of a St. John's team who played in the NIT last season. "They've got everybody back; they're very athletic. It's a team that's going to make some noise."

UW's opener will also mark a reunion of sorts.

Sanford Health CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft, father of former Badger Joe Krabbenhoft, was looking for two major programs to help with the grand opening of the brand-new Sanford Pentagon, which is the cornerstone of a $19-million, 162-acre sports complex.

Ryan's connection with the Krabbenhoft family made the Badgers an ideal fit to participate in the first-ever regular-season game played on the building's Heritage Court, a 3,200-seat retro-styled fieldhouse.

"There are some really neat features at the Pentagon and I'm excited to see it," Ryan added. "Plus we get to help Kelby showcase their new arena. Everybody wins."

Well, not everybody gets to win. Either Wisconsin or St. John's will return home with a loss on their ledger, but the early-season experience and resume-building contest can only help in the long run.

"I'm sure that the opponents that we're playing non-conference will give us the test that we need," Ryan concluded "And how we respond to them? We'll see."

Packer's Perspective: Working hard during the bye week

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It has been a few days since the last post, so I will try my best to catch fans up on what the Badgers have been up to.

Last weekend was a great way to finish off the first chunk of the season. We were very happy to have a hard earned win both nights, and it was nice to finish the first leg of the season off on a high note. 

Following the weekend, we took very little time to have a break and have been hard at work despite the bye week and off weekend. This week is a great opportunity to work on our conditioning and also focus on some skills stuff. We had a hard practice Tuesday, Wednesday was a game day, which is always fun because despite being teammates, the competitive side in all of us shines through and creates a high tempo atmosphere. The rest of the week will continue to be high tempo and skill focused as we skate Thursday and skate Friday as well. 

We lift three times in this off week, and have bike workouts on the days where we are not lifting in the weight room. The extra work is taxing on the team, but everyone is in good spirits and working hard, focusing on taking this week to get better.

The upcoming weekend is something we are all looking forward to. It is rare to get time off, and coaches are working us hard this week, but also rewarding us with an entire weekend to recover and relax. Some of the girls are returning home for the weekend, others have family coming to town to visit, and some are simply looking forward to having time to relax and hang out with friends around Madison. 

The team is excited about the weekend off, but also excited for the upcoming trip to Vail. It is going to be a great experience, and a unique opportunity to play some hockey in a beautiful setting. The team has some special uniforms that will be worn in the Vail games, and I encourage all fans to tune in later for photos of the uniforms that are a first for Badger Hockey. 

The week has been crazy, but as it winds down, we look forward to taking a break and having some time to focus on our studies and also on ourselves. I am looking forward to returning home to Michigan, where I will visit my mom, dad, puppy, and sister who attends the University of Michigan. Despite being a loyal Badger, I am excited to attend a Michigan football game at the Big House (sorry folks!). I am also planning to go to a Detroit Red Wings game with my sister, and can't wait for a little fun with my family after the long stretch of hard games we have just completed. 

Next week will have posts gearing up for Vail, filling fans in on our reactions and emotions as we arrive, and also wrap up what the experience was like and how the team fared in the Rocky Mountains. Tune in next week for more on what is to come in Vail, and to follow the Badgers as we prepare for a first time experience and one we are all excited to be a part of. Until next time, thanks for reading! On Wisconsin!

Better Know a Badger: Vince Biegel

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Redshirt freshman LB Vince Biegel has found a home as a pass-rushing linebacker in Wisconsin's new 3-4 scheme, having racked up two sacks on the season to go along with seven special teams tackles, which ranks second on the team. A highly-touted recruit out of Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids, Biegel is trying to follow in the footsteps of his father, Rocky, who was a standout linebacker at BYU in the late 1980s, as well as his uncle, T.D., who played fullback for the Cougars. 

Your father, grandfather and uncle all played college football. What were you able to learn from their experiences? 
"From the start, football has always been a big part of my life. My dad always emphasized football and hard work from an early age. Football has always been there. My father playing at BYU has a lot to do with football being a being a big part of not only my life, but my brother's as well." 

What's it like having your brother, Hayden, playing with you at Wisconsin?
"It's a huge blessing. It's pretty rare for brothers to be able to be teammates at both the high school and college levels. I love having Hayden here. He is over quite a bit and we're always making dinner together and we're going to be roommates next year. I know our mom is happy to have us both in the same spot looking after one another." 

Did you try to influence Hayden's decision to play at Wisconsin?
"I think Hayden knew in his heart where he needed to be and that was right here. But, at the end of the day, it was Hayden's decision, just like it was my decision on where to go to play college football. I wanted Hayden to make the best decision for himself, but I did think that this was the best fit for him." 

You were recruited by BYU coming out of high school. Considering your family's history there, was it tough to turn down that offer? 
"It was a very tough decision. It came down to BYU and Wisconsin and it was a tough decision because both programs are such great programs. Both have good players and good coaches. At the end of the day, though, I felt that Wisconsin was the best place for me and I think that this is where I am supposed to be. I have a lot of respect for BYU, though." 

Is your dad going to feel conflicted at all Saturday? 
"My dad played at BYU and that's his alma mater, but I think at the end of the day he's going to be rooting for his boys and for Wisconsin. I think he's going to be wearing red and white this weekend, at least I hope so." 

What is it like being a pass-rusher in the Badgers' 3-4 defense? 
"First off, Coach (Dave) Aranda is a great defensive coordinator. He puts us in the best spots and we are fortunate to have him here, because he's a great coach. He knows how to utilize his players and, for me, that means being a pass-rusher. That's what I am comfortable doing, that's what I'm good at and that's what I'm going to keep doing for him. This weekend against BYU I know we are going to have a lot of pass rush opportunities, so I am looking forward to that." 

What makes you well suited to be a pass-rushing linebacker?
"Probably my body type. I'm 6-4 with about a 240-pound frame and can get good speed off the edge. I can get the tackles on their toes, which opens it up for the inside (linebackers). Overall this year I have been grooming my pass rushing skills and getting them where they need to be. I think I've really progressed as the games have gone on." 

What have you been working on to see the field more this season? 
"First of all, it was coming out and working special teams and trying to be a dominant player on the special teams and kickoff units. I think the coaches see that, that you're working your butt off, and I think I've been able to progress on third downs and now to the point that I can be a first- through third-down player." 

Who are some of the older guys you've tried to emulate or learn from? 
"Without a doubt Brendan Kelly. BK and I both play the same position and he's been around for six years, so he knows the ropes. From my freshman year to now, and especially this year now that we're both playing the same position, I've tried to learn from Brendan. We're always working after practice and hitting the weights later than everyone else. He and I have the same tough, blue-collar mindset to outwork everyone else. He's a guy that I look up to. I've always been a fan of Brady Poppinga, as well. He played at BYU and for the Packers as a 3-4 linebacker. He's a guy that I still call to this day for advice. He's a good family guy and a good person as well." 

- Ryan Evans

The Voice: They're not Big Ten, but BYU is big time


There are times when a non-conference football game in November can be a difficult sell. In recent years, the Badgers have had a couple. In 2006, Wisconsin closed its regular season against Buffalo. Two years later, Cal Poly came to town and very nearly ruined Senior Day. 

Cal Poly was a very good FCS team that year, but it simply is not the type of opponent fans expect to see during the final month of the regular season.

Which brings us to this week's opponent. Forget that BYU does not play in the Big Ten, or any conference for that matter. The Cougars are very good, and this game is huge for both programs.

After losing two of its first three games, BYU has won five straight, including a convincing 37-20 victory against Boise State on Oct. 25. The Cougars had a bye last weekend, so they come to town rested.

They also will arrive in Madison with at least some hope of getting into the BCS picture. 

Sound familiar?

In the case of BYU, it might appear to be long shot, but in this week's coaches poll, the Cougars are ranked 29th. While not in the BCS top 25, perhaps BYU is not far removed.

The Cougars certainly can help themselves down the stretch. Two weeks after facing the Badgers, ranked 24th in the BCS, BYU will play at 23rd-rated Notre Dame.

The Cougars already have punched their ticket to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, but should they stay hot, who knows what could happen? Much like Wisconsin, BYU wants to keep winning and at least give the voters something to think about. Both have work to do to get into the top 14, but it never hurts to roll through November.

All the possible scenarios can be fun to talk or write about, but Saturday's game will feature two teams that are playing good football, and it will feature some of the nation's best players.

Badgers fans know all about the home team's stars. You might not know as much about some of BYU's top players, but you will by this weekend.

Chris Borland says he expects to be good to go this Saturday, which means we will see a couple of the nation's premier linebackers. BYU's standout is Kyle Van Noy, an All-America candidate who has 26 career sacks, second best among active FBS players.

Offensively, the Cougars play fast. Very fast. They run nearly 90 plays per game, and sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill appears to be improving by the week. After a choppy start, the dual-threat QB is rolling. In his last five games, Hill has completed 65 percent of his passes for 1,455 yards and 11 touchdowns.

It is worth noting that Hill also leads the team in rushing with 841 yards and eight touchdowns.

When Hill throws the ball, there is a good chance that Cody Hoffman will be the target. He has the BYU record with 31 career touchdown catches, and he is on the brink of breaking the school mark for receiving yards.

Fans in Big Ten country might not be familiar with BYU, but Badgers coach Gary Andersen knows the Cougars well. "They seem to follow me wherever I go, so here we go again," he said with a smile.

When asked to describe BYU, Andersen called it a "Tough, mature team. Blue collar. Hard workers. Tough guys."

Sounds a lot like Wisconsin. The style of offense might differ, but these teams could be very much alike in other areas.

Both Wisconsin and BYU are 6-2. Both are good teams with aspirations of being among the elite. It will make for an interesting, and most likely, highly-entertaining afternoon at Camp Randall Stadium.

If you are lucky enough to have a ticket, I hope you use it. This is a non-conference game, but it figures to be big-boy football with two big-time programs.

After opening the Four Nations Cup with a dominating 10-0 triumph over Sweden last night, the U.S. Women's National Team faces Team Canada tonight at 6 p.m. (CT) in Lake Placid, N.Y.

In yesterday's contest, Meghan Duggan, who was named team captain on Monday, put the U.S. on the board redirecting a shot from the point into the net in the first period. Hilary Knight also added a goal in the third period that put the U.S. up 8-0. Jessie Vetter split time with Molly Schaus in net for the U.S. and combined for an eight-save shutout.

Tonight's game between the U.S. and Canada is the third tilt between the two rivals in the last month, and is the second chance for the American squad to claim a victory on its home soil.

Video is available through FastHockey.com, for a fee, and live stats are available on the USA Hockey site.

Volunteering at Heartland Farm Sanctuary

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Nov. 6, 2013

In this week's Badger Blog, senior Mary Massei writes about the team's trip to Heartland Farm Sanctuary and impact volunteering has on the team and the community. 

This past weekend our Badger softball team had the opportunity to volunteer at Heartland Farm Sanctuary, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping homeless farm animals in Wisconsin. Heartland also reaches out to the youth and works with young adults with disabilities. Their farm allows the youth to get away from their every day lives and assist in doing barn chores. 
As a program, we thought it would be a great idea to take just a couple hours out of our Saturday afternoon to help prepare this organization for the winter months.  By working together as a team, we helped clean up the barn, interact with the animals and build multiple chicken coops. Usually when you see the softball team covered in dirt it's from stealing bases but this time it was from putting hard work into manual labor helping out a good cause within the community. 
Volunteering at Heartland showed me more than that we can handle tools, but it showed me that our program is capable of doing big things when we all invest and join together. For some of the girls it was their first time even stepping foot on a farm, but when assigned a task, everyone put all of their effort into it. We may have been out of our element and had to deal with some adversity, but that didn't stop us from seizing the moment and getting the job done. 
When I see the team working hard doing volunteer work together, it reminds me of how blessed we are to be a part of this program. It may be just a couple hours out of our Saturday afternoons, but our services truly impact the community and organizations we help out. 

Land of Lincoln: Badgers hit the road for Big Ten tourney

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The road to the 2013 NCAA tournament runs through Champaign, Ill., for many of the Big Ten's best as eight of the conference's top teams travel to the University of Illinois for the 2013 Big Ten tournament.

Follow the Badgers' journey as UWBadgers.com chronicles the team's every move from the dinner table to the locker room:

Four Nations Cup begins today

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The 2013 Four Nations Cup is underway in Lake Placid, N.Y. as five players with Wisconsin ties will represent the United States during the week-long tournament. 

Meghan Duggan, who won three national titles during her time at Wisconsin, was named captain of the U.S. squad yesterday. Duggan will serve as captain for the Four Nations Cup and during the rest of USA Hockey's Bring on the World Tour as the squad prepares for the 2014 Olympic Winter games in Sochi, Russia. 

Joining Duggan on the U.S. squad is former Wisconsin netminder Jessie Vetter and forwards Brianna Decker and Hilary Knight. In addition, future UW player Annie Pankowski is on the team of 25 players that are vying for one of 21 spots on the U.S. Olympic Team roster, which will be announced on Jan. 1. 

The United States opens the tournament tonight at 6:30 p.m. as the U.S. faces Sweden. Team Canada and Team Finland are also partaking in the tournament.

All contests during the 2013 Four Nations Cup can be watched online at FastHockey.com for a fee. The tournament wraps up on Saturday, Nov. 9.