UW Health Sports Medicine 

January 2014 Archives

Russell Wilson's special wallet

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Russell Wilson's exploits on and off the field, both as a Badger and a Seahawk, have been well documented. He made numerous visits to the American Family Children's Hospital during his time in Madison and is a regular visitor to the Seattle Children's Hospital. ESPN chronicled how one such visit turned into a special relationship and earned Wilson a unique keepsake.


What they're saying: Badgers in Super Bowl XLVII (Friday)

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Badger Blog: Finding inspiration

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In this week's Badger Blog, head coach Yvette Healy talks about the inspiration the team gets from playing in Madison.


With one week to go until we open the 2014 softball season, the team is focusing on getting better, and enjoying the journey. It's been a cold snowy winter in Madison, yet everyone on campus seems happy and optimistic, especially the softball team. Maybe it's the excitement surrounding Super Bowl Sunday, with former Badger favorites Russell Wilson and Montee Ball leading the way, or the fact that we can watch basketball, hockey and wrestling compete on campus in the winter. The fact is, there's inspiration all around us: from the success of Wisconsin volleyball competing in the national championship game this fall, to basketball, hockey and wrestling being ranked in the top-10 and top-25, there are some amazing Badger athletes training all around us in the weight room, on the ramps and in the field house.

One of our players said, "It's easy to be inspired when you're living a life that you love." What's not to love about Madison? It's such an amazing town! So many universities are in cities that you'd never visit unless you were looking at that school. But Madison is a tourist hotspot and family destination. People from all over the country want to see what all the excitement is about. This might be one of the healthiest, happiest towns I've ever seen. Families here are so outdoorsy. You see kids sledding, ice skating, skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing and jogging, regardless of the temperature. If you can love your life and community when it's cold and snowy, and you're practicing indoors, imagine how much better everything gets when spring sets in, and you can get out on the field, bike trails and lakes.

Win season tickets with the Super Badgers Challenge

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Anyone who has watched the Super Bowl has played the games: who will win the coin toss, how long will the national anthem take, who will score the first touchdown? With all the Badgers connections in Super Bowl XLVIII, we're putting a UW spin on it. And the best part is, if you answer all 10 questions correctly, you could win a pair of season tickets for 2014.

How many rushing yards will Montee Ball have? Will Russell Wilson throw a TD pass? Will Chris Maragos or O'Brien Schofield make a tackle? If you think you know the answer, take the challenge.

If no one gets answers all 10 questions correctly, the person with the most right answers will win a pair of tickets to a home game of their choice. Good luck!

What they're saying: Badgers in Super Bowl XLVII (Thursday)

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As we creep closer to kickoff, the spotlight on Seahawks' QB Russell Wilson starts to become bigger and bigger. ESPN.com has three stories about the former Badgers star and The New York Times penned a profile as well. The Chicago Tribune is well aware of the UW theme in Super Bowl XLVIII and Barry Alvarez tells ESPNWisconsin.com what makes Rose Bowl winning QB Darrell Bevell a great coach.

-- Chicago Tribune - At Super Bowl XLVIII, it's 'On, Wisconsin' indeed
-- ESPN.com - The adoration of Russell Wilson
-- ESPN.com - Seattle QB plays for two generations
-- ESPN.com - Russell Wilson's kindness leaves mark
-- New York Times - A Standout Who's Easy to Miss
-- ESPNWisconsin.com - In his blood: Darrell Bevell was born to coach
-- St. Louis Post-Dispatch - From Wentzville to Super Bowl for Montee Ball
-- Lake County News Sun - Schofield will play important role in Super Bowl, even if he doesn't play at all

'Varsity' Magazine is out and has complete coverage of the Badgers in Super Bowl XLVIII.

We talk to 2009 team captain Chris Maragos about his incredible journey. It starts as a high school troublemaker and transitions to a walk-on wide receiver at Western Michigan. After that didn't work out, a bit of luck and perseverance turned him into a walk-on safety at Wisconsin and later an honorable mention All-Big Ten choice. His NFL path has been just as winding, from undrafted free agent, to out of a job, to special teams force. Among familiar faces with the Seahawks, he plans to savor this experience.





UWBadgers.com senior writer Mike Lucas caught up with Montee Ball, who touched on a number of topics, including his first text message from Peyton Manning, how he overcame his early season fumbling issues, and his advice to Melvin Gordon as he was trying to make a decision very similar to the one Ball had to make.

We asked a number of Badger student-athletes and coaches how they would spend Super Bowl Sunday. Which coach had to pass on tickets to the big game? Where is the football team gathering to watch their former teammates? Find out here.

You can subscribe to 'Varsity' Magazine here or download the iOS (http://go.wisc.edu/VarsityiOS) or Android (http://go.wisc.edu/VarsityDroid) App.

Complete Super Bowl XLVIII coverage in 'Varsity' Magazine

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'Varsity' Magazine, the official digital magazine of Wisconsin Athletics, comes out tomorrow with its Super Bowl XLVIII preview issue. It features an exclusive feature story on Chris Maragos' rise from transfer walk-on, to team captain, to Super Bowl participant as well as Montee Ball's thoughts on playing with Peyton Manning and Melvin Gordon's decision to return to the Badgers. Also included is our complete coverage from Tuesday's Media Day, where we caught up with all five Badgers participating in Sunday's game.

'Varsity' Magazine is emailed to subscribers every Thursday morning. It is also available via mobile app for either iOS (http://go.wisc.edu/VarsityiOS) or Adnroid (http://go.wisc.edu/VarsityDroid) devices.

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What they're saying: Badgers in Super Bowl XLVII (Wednesday)

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Media Day is in the books and the focus is starting to narrow in to what will actually happen on the field Sunday. One the Seattle side, that means much of the glare turns to Russell Wilson. For the Broncos, Montee Ball's emergence over the latter part of the season has helped balance the offense.

The Voice: Anderson makes most of his time in the mix

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In the Wisconsin men's basketball record book, the bio information on junior center Evan Anderson begins with the following words: "Humble and hard-working Wisconsin product."

That is an excellent description of the 6-foot-10, 245-pounder from Stanley. Perhaps it helps explain why Anderson's teammates get so excited when the big man checks into the lineup and makes a few things happen.

The former standout from Eau Claire North has played in about half of the Badgers' games this season, averaging a bit more than three minutes per outing. Last Saturday at Purdue, Anderson logged seven minutes. Seven very important minutes, in the Badgers' 14-point victory. His teammates loved it.

"He got mobbed more than anybody after the game," said UW associate head coach Greg Gard. "They understand not only that seven minutes he contributed, but how he has had to work to get to that point."

"It was great to be able to go out there and help my teammates," added Anderson. "It was really important to me."

"I was able to box out (A.J.) Hammons. I believe that was his third foul (it was). That was a key to have him on the bench the rest of the first half."

I think the players and coaches appreciate Anderson so much because they know this game is anything but easy. At times, he can be very tough on himself. So a few weeks ago, when Anderson got some run late in the game against Illinois and nailed a three-point shot against the Illini, players popped out of their chairs to cheer him on.  

When he gets on the floor in the guts of a game and does a lot of the little things well, it means even more.

"I thought he did a great job of staying within himself," said Gard. "He just went in, set good screens, was physical. He did a great job of blocking out and getting the over-the-back call on the third foul (on Hammons).

"He has bought into the program. He has never complained. He keeps working."

While nobody wants to get too carried away about one game, perhaps last Saturday's effort at Mackey Arena can serve as a confidence boost for Anderson. This is his fourth year in the program, and he believes experience can help him help the program.

"Being here and doing every little thing that we do," he said. "We spend a lot of time behind the scenes that people don't see. Lifting, running, all that in the summer. The experience is just great ... and we put in a lot of work."

And when that work is rewarded, it tends to make a good competitor want to keep grinding away. Nobody has questioned Anderson's competitive nature. Enough players have run into one of his haymaker screens in practice to know he can be a tough man to move. Rest assured Anderson's teammates were more than happy to see an opponent get a taste of what the Badgers deal with every day in practice.

Like most teams in the country, the Badgers would love to see continued growth off the bench. Freshmen Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig are doing a very solid job. Recently fellow freshman Vitto Brown started to get some work with the regular rotation. Duje Dukan has shown he is capable of providing a boost as well.  

Yet there is always room for more competition. While nobody is making any bold predictions, it was fun to see Evan Anderson get in the mix. As the always difficult Big Ten season rolls on, there is no doubt coach Bo Ryan will happily accept some more depth. You just never know when it will be needed.

Sights and sounds of Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day



We went along for the ride with Denver's Montee Ball and Seattle's Darrell Bevell, Chris Maragos, O'Brien Schofield and Russell Wilson as the former Badgers took part in Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day.

Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day: O'Brien Schofield



We caught up with former Badgers DE O'Brien Schofield at Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day to discuss his path to Seattle, Badgers and Seahawks teammate Chris Maragos and what he's most looking forward to for Super Bowl week.

Photos: Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day

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Montee Ball

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Russell Wilson

Schofield

O'Brien Schofield

Wilson

Russell Wilson

Maragos

Chris Maragos

Bevell

Darrell Bevell

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Russell Wilson

Prudential Center

What they're saying: Badgers in Super Bowl XLVIII (Tuesday)

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Tuesday of Super Bowl week can only mean one thing ... Media Day. The Broncos and Seahawks each had their time before more than 5,000 credentialed media at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. this morning. You can re-live our live coverage of the event, with a lot of Badgers flavor, right here.

Everyone else got in on the act as well, and here is some of the best from around the web:

-- ESPN.com - Russell Wilson is the Houdini of QBs
-- Sporting News - Why Broncos should fear Russell Wilson
-- SeattlePI.com - Seahawks' Russell Wilson has been growing hair out for Super Bowl appearance
-- Gazette.com - Faith links Super Bowl duo Russell Wilson and Montee Ball
-- Racine Journal Times - Maragos' extended family feeds off Super Bowl mania


Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day: Montee Ball


We had the chance to catch up with Montee Ball during Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day on Tuesday in Newark, getting his thoughts on his rookie season, how his dream of playing for the Broncos has exceeded his expectations and his thoughts on former teammate Melvin Gordon's decision to return for his junior season.

Packer's Perspective: Heading into the bye week

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Hey Badger Fans!

It was another successful weekend for the team, as we swept the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs for the first time in quite a while for a number of the upperclassmen on our team. It was a great feeling, and the team overcame a lot of adversity over the weekend. The games consisted of a number of power play opportunities for both sides as it was a physical series, but the team executed special teams well and play a consistent 60 minutes both nights to walk away on the weekend with six out of six points. It was a big weekend for the team, and puts us in a great position heading into an off weekend. 

Although we do not have games this upcoming weekend, the team is taking no time off, but rather using the extra time to hit it a little harder in order to prepare ourselves as best as possible for the final six regular season games. The team has an off weekend and then we will head to Columbus, Ohio, to take on the Buckeyes, before returning home to play in our final regular season home series against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

The team is ready for a weekend off and is excited to use the extra time to push a little harder and spend some extra time on skills and other areas of the game that we can fine tune while we have a few days to spend. An exciting moment for everyone came with the announcement of no classes! We were given a "college snow day" because of the cold weather, which isn't something that happens very often, so the team will get to enjoy a morning free of classes. The team will practice throughout the week, before having a few days off on the weekend to rest up and recover. The team is looking forward to what will come after the break, and is ready to go to work this week to get the most out of our extra efforts as possible.

Check back later in the week to hear all about the training sessions and what the Badgers have been up to in the cold weather! Until next time, thanks for reading and On Wisconsin!

-Madison Packer

Live coverage of Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day

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With so many participants in Super Bowl XLVIII, we figured we had to be on site at the Prudential Center in New Jersey for Media Day on Tuesday. So join us as we talk to Montee Ball, Chris Maragos, O'Brien Schofield, Russell Wilson and Darrell Bevell.

Super Bowl XLVIII starts at 9:30 a.m. with the Denver Broncos. The Seattle Seahawks, and their four Badgers, are on the clock starting at 11:45 a.m. CT. Both teams are available for an hour.

NFL Network will have live television coverage of the day but for all things Badgers, and the sights and sounds from Media Day, check out our live blog below or follow us on Twitter (@BadgerFootball).


Good luck, Badgers!

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As Super Bowl week kicks off, take a look back at where it all started for five of the participants in Super Bowl XLVIII:


What they're saying: Badgers in Super Bowl XLVII

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With five former Badgers participating in Super Bowl XLVIII and the immense amount of coverage that the big game receives, it will be tough to get a handle on all the things written and said about Russell Wilson, Montee Ball, Chris Maragos, O'Brien Schofield and Darrell Bevell this week. Well, we have you covered.

Each day we'll provide a wrap-up of news gathered from around the web. Here are today's entries:

-- SI.com - Super Bowl XLVIII shaping up to be a Wisconsin Badger Bowl
-- Denver Post - Super reunion awaiting ex-Badgers Montee Ball, Russell Wilson
-- NJ.com - Former Wisconsin teammates, Russell Wilson and Montee Ball, prepare to face off
-- ESPN.com - This moment isn't too big for Wilson
-- Reuters.com - Super Bowl-bound Wilson defies quarterback prototype
-- DenverBroncos.com - Broncos Pride Flows Deep for Montee Ball
-- FoxSports.com - Ex-Badger Maragos on 'surreal' trip to Super Bowl, Seahawks teammate Sherman

Be sure to check out our complete coverage of Super Bowl Media Day on Tuesday as we will be on-site at the Prudential Center in New Jersey as both teams meet the media.

Badgers make most of Senior Bowl showcase

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Senior Bowl Logo
 Senior Bowl Coverage
- Borland's Senior Bowl Blog
- SeniorBowl.com
- NFL.com Senior Bowl Home
- CBSSports.com Senior Bowl Home
- ESPN.com Senior Bowl Home
Based on the rave reviews that flowed out of Mobile, Ala., all week, it should come as no surprise that three Wisconsin football players were among the stars of the Senior Bowl on Saturday.

RB James White was named the North team's Most Outstanding Player after leading this squad in rushing with 62 yards on 11 carries and scoring the North's only touchdown -- a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter.

White also led the North with a team-high five receptions, while Badgers TE Jacob Pedersen led the team in terms of receiving yards with 46 on four catches.

Defensively, LB Chris Borland paced all players with eight tackles, including one for loss, and forced a fumble -- no surprise for the man who finished his career with the second-most forced fumbles in FBS history (15).

The Badgers' North team finished on the wrong end of the 20-10 final score, but it was clear UW's contingent -- including WR Jared Abbrederis, who had to withdraw from the game a hamstring injury -- were all winners.

The consensus of those covering the week of practices was that Abbrederis was the best receiver and Borland the most impressive linebacker. White also drew a fair share of praise, while Pedersen underscored his reputation as a reliable receiver and blocker and Southward (who had two tackles in the game) confirmed his flexibility in the defensive backfield.

Combine the performances of those five this week with the favorable impressions left by TE Brian Wozniak at the NLFPA Collegiate Bowl and NG Beau Allen at the East-West Shrine Game and the Badgers' seniors have maximized their chances to improve their draft stocks.

For now, it's back to preparing for the NFL Scouting Combine, which is set for Feb. 22-25 in Indianapolis. The Badgers will also host their annual Pro Day in early March.

Senior Bowl Coverage

- Final Stats
- Photo Gallery (NFL.com)
- Highlights (NFL.com)
- Borland's Senior Bowl Blog

What They're Saying...

- White caught the eye of NFL.com's Mike Huguenin during the game and should benefit from being so productive at UW despite sharing carries with John Clay, Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon: "...one selling point is that because he has shared carries, he has a lot of tread left on his tires."

- Before the game, White talked about his versatility with Packers beat writer Ty Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "That's one big thing coming out of Wisconsin," White said. "It's always, 'He's running behind an NFL offensive line.' I wanted to come out here and showcase my ability to make people miss and showcase my burst. Prove it all."

- NFL.com's Chase Goodbread pointed to Borland as one of the big "winners" from the game.

- Borland was also one of the week's big winners in the eyes of Brent Sobleski of USA Today: "From the moment Borland stepped onto the Senior Bowl practice field at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, he was in control."

Packer's Perspective: Bring on the 'Dogs

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Hey Badger Fans!

It's been a good week of hard work the the team, both on and off the ice. Classes resumed Tuesday, so the days of only having practice are over. The team has a wide variety of majors and class schedules, and it has been a frigid week of getting to and from class all across campus. The team has managed the transition back to classes well, as our schedules have changed a great deal from first semester. 

The team is practicing later in the evening, with most of us having early/mid-afternoon classes. The team practiced all week, while also heading to the weight room twice to improve off the ice. The team was also busy Wednesday night as a few ladies made their way over to the UW Children's Hospital to visit with some local Badger kids. Despite having class, the team has been focused on the upcoming games. We anticipate two high paced, high intensity battles this weekend as it is always a dogfight when we play Duluth. 

The team is looking forward to playing at home in front of our own crowd, and have spent time looking over film to improve from last week and put ourselves in a good position to be successful this weekend. The team did a good job last weekend of putting together six periods of hockey, and that is the same intensity and consistency that we are looking to build on this weekend. We hope all the fans can bundle up and make their way out to the games this weekend, as we play at 2 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m, on Sunday, and create some energy in the building as we look to go to work and get two big wins at home this weekend. 

Until next time, thanks for reading and On Wisconsin! 

- Madison

Badgers' strong Senior Bowl showings continue

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 NFL Network Broadcast Schedule
Friday, Jan. 24
- Week in Review: 9 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 25

- 2014 Senior Bowl: 3 p.m.
 Senior Bowl Coverage
- Borland's Senior Bowl Blog
- SeniorBowl.com
- NFL.com Senior Bowl Home
- CBSSports.com Senior Bowl Home
- ESPN.com Senior Bowl Home
 
The big news on the Badgers front Friday at the Senior Bowl was WR Jared Abbrederis withdrawing from the game. "Unfortunately I won't be able to compete in the game because I tweaked my hamstring," Abbrederis wrote on Twitter.

Even without playing in the game, Abbrederis accomplished what he set out to do this week, and that's impress NFL scouts and front-office personnel. The consensus seems to be that Abbrederis raised his draft stock with a solid week of work.

The final day of Senior Bowl practice in full pads came and went Wednesday, so that meant many of the media members and draftniks who have set up shop in Mobile, Ala., were ready to crown their big winners from the week.

In other words, here come the lists!

(In case you missed all the analysis from earlier in the week, here's our first look at Senior Bowl coverage from around the web.)

- Draft analyst Russ Lande put together his top 10 performers from the week of practice for Sports on Earth and, not surprisingly, Badgers Jared Abbrederis and Chris Borland were among his highlights:

On Abbrederis: "Arriving in Mobile with questions about his size and playing strength, Abbrederis leaves having proven that he has what it takes to be a quality starting slot receiver at the next level."

On Borland: "While NFL teams generally do not get excited about 5-foot-11 linebackers, there is no question that Borland's play all week had NFL people almost giddy."

- Abbrederis and Borland were also singled out for the parts of their game that resonated most with scouts by Coy Wire of FOX Sports. Borland? He's the "best hunter." Abbrederis (who actually spends his free time hunting) was labeled as the "best route runner" in Coy's observations from the week.



- Senior Bowl director Phil Savage points out Abbrederis, Borland and RB James White as players who are "turning heads" this week: "Every time I looked up, the running back from Wisconsin, James White seemed to be making a play," Savage said.

- Borland turned enough heads to be named the Most Outstanding Linebacker of the Senior Bowl practices by NFL personnel evaluating talent in Mobile.

- Packers beat writer Ty Dunne specifically mentions Borland and White in his look at prospects emerging from this week's practices for JSOnline.

- Former Green Bay great Leroy Butler joined Dunne to break down a number of players in a video segment for JSOnline, but it was the Badgers who caught Butler's eye this week: "You'll see a lot of Badgers go higher than you think in this particular draft," he said. Butler specifically mentioned TE Jacob Pedersen as an under-the-radar player and dismissed a couple of the knocks on Abbrederis and Borland. "The height is not an issue anymore," Butler said in reference to Borland's 5-foot-11 measurement. "If you can play football, you can play football." On the prevailing wisdom that Abbrederis will be a slot receiver in the NFL, Butler claims, "He's more outside like Jordy Nelson. He can make a team better."

- Dunne also caught up with Badgers S Dez Southward in another JSOnline video: "Versatility, that's what everybody wants," Southward said. "That's something, definitely, I can bring to the table."

- ESPN's Todd McShay agrees, labeling Southward just that: the most versatile defensive back at the Senior Bowl.

- BTN continues its coverage from Mobile, with Lisa Byington catching up with Borland following practice..

Badgers shining at Senior Bowl

Senior Bowl Logo
 NFL Network Broadcast Schedule
Thursday, Jan. 23
- Practice: 3 p.m.
- Senior Bowl Recap: 9:30 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 24

- Week in Review: 9 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 25

- 2014 Senior Bowl: 3 p.m.
 Senior Bowl Coverage
- Borland's Senior Bowl Blog
- SeniorBowl.com
- NFL.com Senior Bowl Home
- CBSSports.com Senior Bowl Home
- ESPN.com Senior Bowl Home
Who were the winners and losers of weigh-in day?

Yes, winners and losers of weigh-ins. That's the level to which prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft are being dissected this week in Mobile, Ala., leading up to the Senior Bowl, the nation's most prestigious college all-star game.

There's no shortage of coverage from Mobile, headlined by a daily TV presence on NFL Network, which will air the Senior Bowl game live at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Those prospects' week under the microscope began when they were sized up Sunday in front of a room full of personnel from NFL teams.

Jared Abbrederis, Chris Borland and James White -- three of the five former Badgers selected for the Senior Bowl, along with Jacob Pedersen and Dez Southward -- were listed among the losers from weigh-ins. At 6-0 and 189 pounds, Abbrederis measured in "shorter and lighter than expected." Borland has the shortest arms of any linebacker in Mobile.

Since they've taken the field, however, all three have been on a winning streak, according to the media members and draft pundits on site:

An AFC scout told NFL.com's Andy Fenelon that Abbrederis has "consistently been the best receiver on the field this week" in a deep draft class for at the position.

ESPN's Todd McShay tweeted Wednesday that Borland "is an animal. Great instincts. Strong this wk as rusher and in cvg. Doesn't have measurables but who cares. He's a player!"



Not surprisingly, White has drawn praise for his strong work in pass protection, as a pass-catcher and as a consistent runner. According to one account of Tuesday's practice, "White's lone ugly rep came as college teammate Chris Borland beat him with a swim move."

For the Badgers, this week is about proving to NFL scouts that the tale of the (video) tape is more telling than the tale of the (measuring) tape.

So far, so good.

What They're Saying...
NFL Network's Mike Mayock called Borland "as fun a guy to watch on tape as I have ever seen" and compared him to second-year Carolina Panthers MLB Luke Kuechly.

Borland was among the most impressive players as full-pads practices came to an end with Wednesday's session for the North Team, according to NFL.com's Chase Goodbread.

 Tony Pauline is keeping a running tab on each player at DraftInsider.net. His thoughts on Borland? Monday: "Just a tremendous day." Tuesday: "Another terrific day."

In a video recap for PhiladelphiaEagles.com, Pauline poured more praise on Borland's game: "He plays smart, instinctive football, he's tough, he goes after the ballcarrier. He made plays on the blitz, made plays in run defense, also made good plays in coverage. He's got all the skills except for the height." 

Pauline had similar thoughts for Packers.com writer Vic Ketchman in this video recap. For his part, Ketchman also thinks highly of Borland, taking the popular comparison to former NFL star Zach Thomas a step further: "Borland bears body resemblance to Zach Thomas, but he's a better player."

Ketchman's thoughts were shared by Falcons head coach Mike Smith, who is guiding Borland's North Team this week in Mobile: "He reminds me of Zach Thomas. Sometimes we put these measurables up, but the tape doesn't lie. That's your DNA. He has great FBI (football intelligence)."

The crew from NFL Network also gave their thoughts on Borland's NFL future.

Borland is offering insight into his experience in Mobile by contributing a journal on the Senior Bowl's official web site. "It's no longer a dream, it's right front in of you," he writes. "I think it's exciting for us and I'm definitely pumped about it."

 Russ Lande was a guest on Big Ten Network's BTN Live on Tuesday and addressed the impression Borland has left on scouts: "Some people thought ... that like of height might hinder him, but he's just been great. The thing that's been the most impressive is his all-around versatility."

Lande also had some good things to say about Abbrederis: "He's making a tremdendous impression. Through the two days of practice he's shown that he's polished receivers down here in Mobile ... he's looked just tremendous."

Abbrederis and Borland were also the headliners of this assessment of the Senior Bowl workouts by the Sporting News.

When it comes to wide receivers, the consensus seems to be that Abbrederis has been most impressive in practice this week: "He's consistently been the best receiver on the field this week," an AFC scout told NFL.com's Andy Fenelon. "You know when they say the best player always jumps off the film when you pop in a game tape? Jared has been one of those guys for me this week."

NFL Network talked to Abbrederis about how much pride he takes in his precise route-running.

BTN's Lisa Byington also caught up with Abby to get his thoughts on his Senior Bowl showing.

The first team to talk with Pedersen in Mobile? That would be the Green Bay Packers, the team he grew up rooting for in nearby Menominee, Mich. "They haven't drafted a Wisconsin guy in a while," Pedersen told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "but I wouldn't mind doing that."

Speaking of hometown teams, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., native White spoke with MiamiDolphins.com on his hopes for the Senior Bowl.

Packer's Perspective: Back to Business

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Hope all those in Madison are staying warm as the weather has been sunny but freezing these last few days, or at least that has been the experience for myself and most of my teammates. 

The weather Sunday afternoon however was surprisingly nice and turned out to be perfect for our outdoor skate in the community. The team returned Saturday night around 7 p.m. after enjoying a quick flying following a series sweep up in Bemidji. Sunday was a nice relaxing day off where we were able to get out and be active in the community with some of the fans who come out to support us throughout the year.

Monday we went back to work on and off the ice. We had practice Monday morning and then hit the gym as a team to get in a good workout to start the week off right. The team knows there is a great deal riding on the games this weekend and we are doing everything we can to properly prepare for the upcoming series at home. Tuesday will be the first day of class for myself and fellow teammates, and it will be a sure change of pace after having a month of doing nothing but hockey around campus.

This is just a quick recap post of the weekend, but tune in Thursday for reactions from teammates on their first few days back at class, and what to expect in the upcoming series against rival Minnesota Duluth!

Thanks for reading and On Wisconsin!

- Madison

 

Packer's Perspective: Badgers take on Bemidji

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Hey Badger Fans!

The team has arrived in Bemidji after a short day of travel, and a very cold welcome. We left Madison this afternoon at 3 p.m., and headed to the airport where we flew straight into Bemidji, headed to the rink for a quick practice, and then checked in at the hotel. The team had our usual evening meal, before turning in to get some rest to prepare for the upcoming games. The team is looking forward to the series and hopes to build of last game's momentum and move forward.

'"We are expecting a good battle this weekend," freshman forward Sydney McKibbon said. "They will be fired up to play us at their home rink with their home fans to cheer them on, especially considering we beat them both games in Madison. I think we need to come out strong in the first period in order to set the tone for the weekend. Last weekend we learned that you can't take any team lightly and that we need to play a complete 60 minutes in order to win. We came out on Sunday against North Dakota and did the little things to be successful so we need to carry that on in Bemidji. This weekend is going to be all about compete level and who is willing to work the hardest and win the battles. We are well prepared and had a great week of practice and I think we are all excited to play some games."

Fellow Badger forward, Rachel Jones, had similar emotions heading into the weekend and realizes the weight this weekend holds in the standings.

"Heading into this weekend, I think our team realizes how important these games are with the understanding that Bemidji didn't like being swept when they came to Madison," Jones said. "They are going to come out hard and play for the whole 60 minutes, this is a team that won't go down without a battle. Some of the things our team needs to build off of from last weekend is we need to play 100% every time we hit the ice, winning every one on one battle. After last weekend our team knows that we have to play for the whole game in order to be successful."

The team is well aware of the importance of the upcoming weekend, as well as the importance of competing for the full 60 minutes. Bemidji is a team that is always difficult to play on the road, and in order to be successful in their barn we have to give it everything we have every time we hit the ice.

The games take place Friday and Saturday at 2 p.m. and we hope those back home can follow our games and cheer us on as we look to walk away this weekend with a few road wins in our back pocket.

Until next time, thanks for reading, and On Wisconsin!

-Madison 

Aloha: Badgers make annual business trip to Hawaii

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MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin winters are sudden and serve as a cruel reminder that each year state residents are obliged to endure at least 2-3 months of freezing cold temperatures, snow and the occasional blizzard.

Aside from the obvious perks of enjoying a week and a half of sunshine and sandy beaches, this makes the annual nine-hour flight from Chicago's O'Hare Airport to Hawaii each December that much more bearable for the University of Wisconsin swimming and diving squad. 

Prior to head coach Whitney L. Hite taking over the reins of the program in 2011, the Badgers would travel to the Aloha State for a few weeks to train and enjoy the sun. Hite continued the tradition but slightly changed the focus and objective behind the opportunity.

"I view it as a business trip," Hite explained. "We go there with the mindset of getting better, whether it's getting stronger in training, faster in speed.

"There's a lot of development going on and it's a great opportunity for team bonding as well."

Hite uses the time spent away from campus to measure each student-athlete's progress at this point in the season, while also continuing to stress the idea of growth and getting better during grueling practices and training sessions.
"A lot of people think we go out there to lay on the beach," Hite added. "As (UW Senior Administrator) Terry Gawlik saw this year we worked out hard -- really hard."

Aside from escaping Wisconsin's below zero temperatures, the Badgers were able to refocus their energy to powering up for the final stretch of the season, which continues this weekend at Christiansburg, Va., for a two-day meet against Virginia and Virginia Tech, among others.

The team used their time in Hawaii to emphasize improving on last season's Big Ten championships finish and gaining momentum heading into the NCAA meet in March.

"I think that's the thing that has changed since I've been here," Hite said. "We made it clear why we made this trip and the team realizes the goal is to get better."

Badger Blog: The first two days of practice

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In today's Badger Blog, outfielders Mary Massei and Maria Van Abel give an update on the first two practices and provide insight into the Badgers' chalk talks. 

After a rejuvenating winter break, the whole team is back in Madison for the start up of another promising season. We got right to work on Monday morning getting in a great workout before our first official spring semester practice. We have been doing a lot of situation drills in the McClain facility and are excited to finally be using the new Goodman indoor complex. The coaches have done an outstanding job of incorporating chalk talks and meetings to keep a balance of our athletic and mental training for the upcoming season.

Coach Schneider started things off with a chalk talk on Monday afternoon in which he analyzed the neurological perspective on vision and the strike zone in the game of softball. Having coaches who dedicate themselves to learning and absorbing as much outside academic information as they can has made such a difference in our program in these past three years. Knowing our coaches go above and beyond what the average coach might be willing to do makes buying in to their philosophy so much easier for us as players.

In our chalk talk on Tuesday, coach Healy elaborated on our own team's culture through a business lens by looking at the different strategies and values of some of the most successful companies. Coach started out by recognizing the difference between simply claiming values verses actually living them. We looked at our own program and saw how our main values and priorities aligned with some of the Fortune 500 companies coach presented us. After reflecting on coach Healy's presentation, we all took it upon ourselves to see if we were holding ourselves accountable to live out the values of the program. 

Our countdown to Florida is on, currently at 23 days, and we can't wait to get our season started!

Packer's Perspective: Back to Work

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Hey Badger Fans,

Thank you to all who came out and supported us this weekend! The atmosphere was great, and the team thrives when the home crowd gets involved. Saturdays game was a tough loss, but the team used our mistakes from the game to learn and build for Sunday. It was tough when North Dakota came out and got a quick goal again, but the team rallied together as one and played our hearts out, taking 3 points away from the weekend and finishing on a high note. There was a lot to learn from overall after the weekend, but we also did a number of things very well as a team. Monday was a much needed day off after the grueling weekend and physical series, and all the ladies took full advantage of the extra recovery.

Monday night we gathered as a team at LaBahn, and had a little 101 clinic. There were about 100 kids that showed up for the clinic, and it was a great way to give back to a community that supports us throughout the season. We spent an hour on the ice, teaching and playing around with the little kids, and then we headed up to the concourse of the arena to sign some autographs and eat some pizza with the skaters. The whole event lasted a little over two hours, and it was a huge success. We are grateful to all those who showed up to support our organization and hope all the participants enjoyed being little Badgers for the day.

Tuesday was back to work, as we had film, practice, and lift. We reviewed the game from Sunday, looking at times when we had a few breakdowns, and also focusing on the things we did well and need to continue to execute in order to find success this season. We then hit the ice for a quick practice to work on skill and focus on what we need to do this weekend, and then headed down to the weight room for a quick workout to keep in shape. After workout, the team enjoyed a nice meal, and a few of us headed to a local middle school to visit with a fourth grade classroom.

While visiting with the fourth graders, we talked about our experiences as young athletes, our journey to the University of Wisconsin, and then answered a number of varying questions from our favorite NHL team to our favorite movie or color. The kids were awesome, and certainly came prepared with a number of questions to ask. The visit with the fourth graders was finished with a quick autograph session, before we headed home. The visit to the elementary school was extra special for senior goaltender Ilana Friedman, who attended that middle school when she was younger. Later tonight, a number of ladies will be heading to the local senior home to visit with some elderly members of the community. I am always amazed at the willingness of my teammates to give back in the community whenever they get a chance, especially with the highly demanding lifestyle they live.

The journey for our team continues this weekend as we head up to Bemidji to play on the road. Check back in later this week for emotions from players about the upcoming games, and a recap of our journey to Northern Minnesota. Until next time, thanks for reading, and On Wisconsin!!

Badger Blog: Most Improved

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In today's blog, head coach Yvette Healy writes about the Badgers' 2014 resolution to get better every day. 

Dreamers wish they were the best player, while doers work to get better every day. #MIP #Badgersoftball2014

As we look to 2014, so many people talk about wanting to be the best this New Year. They want to be the best team, player, company or CEO. Who doesn't want to win, accomplish and achieve? Here in Madison, we're shifting our goals for 2014. Instead of worrying about being the best, why not focus on being better? Isn't that what life is all about, getting better? When we get caught up in being number one, we lose focus to the periphery.  Does it really matter what's going on all around us? Wouldn't we be better suited being the best version of ourselves, constantly growing, climbing and making progress?

For the Badger softball team, 2014 really needs to be about improvement. Our schedule is so challenging, that we certainly can't walk out from the snow to the dirt in February and arrive. It's a journey, and a progression. Hopefully we'll have the opportunity to not only play Florida, Texas A&M, Arizona State, Washington and Arizona, early, but also again late in the season. We all know it's not where you start, but where you finish. Each season's a new opportunity to rewrite the history books and start a new legacy.

At what point did most improved became a dirty word? Everyone wants to be the most valuable player, not the most improved player. Fans look at the MIP as a consolation trophy, like being named best personality instead of homecoming queen. Sure being the MVP is prestigious, but it's also limiting. There's only a handful of MVP's in the country, but the lions-share of teams and programs are made of hard-working, blue-collar athletes that are on the path to improvement. In life, our greatest feelings of pride and accomplishment come not from the trophy, but from the climb. Improvement really is empowerment, it factors in who you are, where you came from, the adversity and inequality of where you started, ultimately measuring how far you've come.

Talking about improvement forces you to take a good, hard look at the past, understanding who you are, and where you came from. Improvement doesn't come from ignoring, or running from your origins, but rather from understanding, and accepting your heritage. The imperfection of your past is beautiful, because it's part of who you are, it helped you to arrive in the amazing place you are today with empathy and gratitude. Some programs and people have always had success. But if your past was different, challenging and checkered, you can always make strides. There's a lot of beauty in the struggle. Every climber knows that the path of improvement is paved with hundreds of people who loved, cared, worked hard and laid the groundwork for your journey.  

So, for our 2014 resolution, Wisconsin softball doesn't want just to be the best team in the Big Ten, or the country, we want to grow and improve as a program, and as people. Of course the Badgers want to win the Big Ten. It's every student-athlete's dream to say they were part of a Big Ten championship program. Yet reality, history, and a lack of legacy are stacked against us. We'll play 23 Big Ten conference games against eight B1G teams this spring. We'll see Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Purdue at home, and Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern and Penn State on the road. Wisconsin has 95 wins in 281 career games against those teams, that's a .338 winning percentage. We've got our work cut out. Yet we're blessed with 20 student-athletes in the Badger softball family that can win most improved every day, every practice and every game this season. The journey starts Monday! #MIP  

Badgers among best of BCS era

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The Bowl Championship Series era came to a close Monday with the crowning of Florida State in the 16th and final BCS National Championship Game. Marked by both compelling matchups and controversy, opinions vary as to what the BCS' legacy will be. No matter what history chooses to reflect, however, the one undeniable truth about the BCS is that it forever changed college football by taking the sport to new levels of popularity nationwide. 

Just as the postseason format will leave a lasting impact on the sport it helped to grow, Wisconsin teams will always be among the lasting images of the BCS era, a time in which the sport's growth coincided with the growth of the Badgers into one of the nation's premier programs.

Wisconsin proved to be one of the nation's most successful teams during the BCS' hold on the college football postseason. Here's a look at why:

- Wisconsin appeared in the Rose Bowl five times in the BCS era, making UW one of just 11 teams to play in at least five BCS bowl games

The Badgers went 146-61 (.705) overall in the BCS era, giving them the 13th-best win percentage in the nation over that span

Among Big Ten teams, only Ohio State had more wins (161) and a better win percentage (.793) than Wiscosnin during the BCS era

- UW's 146 wins were the 12th-most of any team in the BCS era

- The Badgers were ranked in 72 of the 125 BCS standings, tied for the 11th-most appearances of any team in the nation

- From 2004 to 2006, the Badgers appeared in the BCS standings for 24 consecutive weeks

- UW ranked as high as fifth in the BCS standings, rising to No. 5 in consecutive weeks in 2004 (Nov. 1, Nov. 8) and 2010 (Nov. 28, Dec. 5)

- Ron Dayne holds the record for rushing yards in a BCS bowl with his 246 vs. UCLA in the 1999 Rose Bowl

- Dayne tied for the record for most rushing touchdowns in a BCS bowl with the four he scored on UCLA in the 1999 Rose Bowl

- Jared Abbrederis owns the record for all-purpose yards in a BCS bowl with 346 (119 receiving, 201 kickoff return, 26 punt return) vs. Oregon in the 2012 Rose Bowl

- Montee Ball became the first player to rush for 100 yards three times in the Rose Bowl and the first to score a touchdown in three different Rose Bowls

With college football set to move on and the debut of the College Football Playoff coming at the end of the 2014 season, it's an exciting time for the sport. Hopefully, the playoff can prove to be as exciting - and successful - for Wisconsin as the BCS era. 

The Voice: Saying goodbye (good riddance?) to the BCS

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With Florida State's dramatic win against Auburn on Monday night, we bid farewell to the BCS era. Some will say goodbye, while many others will say good riddance.

Whatever the case, starting next season college football moves into its next phase -- the College Football Playoff. While the now-departed method created some classic championship games, not to mention a number of other thrilling BCS bowls, the whole concept of the Bowl Championship Series has been a source of great debate, and often times, harsh criticism.

As I -- and many others -- have previously stated, the BCS was an imperfect system, but it was far better than what preceded it. Gone are the days of a top-ranked team sealing its national title by beating a No. 14-ranked squad in its bowl game.

The system also set up a number of wildly entertaining matchups, such as Boise State's stunning victory against Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. This year's other BCS games were fairly decent, too, from underdog Central Florida putting the hammer down on Baylor, to Michigan State's 24-20 victory against Stanford in the Rose Bowl.

Ohio State-Clemson in the Orange, and Oklahoma-Alabama in the Sugar Bowl were not bad games, either.

I think part of the frustration of the BCS is that many of us struggled to fully understand how it worked.

We did not know what made up most of the computer rankings. We were easily confused on what a team had to do to qualify for consideration to one of the "big boy" bowls. A top-14 finish? A top-16 for a non-AQ conference if it finished ahead of lowest-rated champ from an AQ conference? Otherwise, a non-AQ had to be in the top 12? Huh? What is a non-AQ? And Notre Dame has its own sets of rules? 

What?

As sports fans, we tend to like things to be a bit more simple, and hopefully the College Football Playoff is a step closer in that direction.

Still, in today's world, many of us will find something to be unhappy about, and we will have multiple platforms where we can vent to our heart's delight.

It is anything but a stretch to predict that the biggest outcry will come from those who want more than four teams in the playoff. However, executive director Bill Hancock repeatedly has said the four-team playoff will be in place for the next 12 years, so we probably would be wise to get used to it. Those who help run college football are very protective about the importance of the regular season. They are in no hurry to run the risk of hurting high-stakes games in October.

We also should remember that there will be two more top-end bowls, the Cotton and the Chick-fil-A. Part of the selection committee's job will be to place teams in those games, as those sites will join the rotation for the semifinal round on New Year's Eve 2016.

Whether the College Football Playoff will be more satisfying than the BCS remains to be seen. I believe it will. Yes, the team that ends up fifth in eyes of the committee will be very upset. So is the basketball squad that just misses the cut to the 68-team NCAA tournament. 

Overall, I would claim the BCS worked reasonably well. If nothing else, it gave college football fans something to talk about every week of the season.

Starting next season, we can all try to figure out who will play in those semifinal games at the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl, with the winners meeting in Arlington, Texas, on Jan. 12, 2015.

It figures to be anything but dull.

Packer's Perspective: The Badgers Behind the Masks

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Hey Badger fans! Today's post is a little different. Usually, I bring to you the upcoming anticipation of games, post game reactions, and the activities we are involved in daily throughout the community. Although this post will include some of our daily interactions in the community, it is more of a story. The story behind the Wisconsin women's hockey team, and the backgrounds that bring this group together to create a family that is stronger than any obstacle we face together. 

This story does not start in any specific location, it has no general direction, and most of the quotes and information will remain anonymous out of respect for the privacy of my teammates, although at times, some individuals are named. The purpose of this story is to show the fans of the Wisconsin women's hockey team that the individuals who make up this nationally ranked program, are not all that different from anyone else in the community. We show up to the rink each day, leave our lives at the door, and for three hours we interact as athletes; however, when the lights dim and we change back into our street clothes, my teammates and I venture back out into the real world, and face realities that are often hard to cope with. Through the spotlighting of my team in this blog, I will work to show that the talents of my teammates on the ice are far less impressive than their courage in the outside world, and that if the phenomenal athletes I suit up next to each day can use their setbacks to propel them to success, perhaps we can inspire our followers and fans can do the same.

Injuries are a setback in any environment. People are injured in the work force, in daily activity, and like many athletes on the team, in athletic competition. Fans often see players get hurt. They read about injury reports, or see a player walking around with a cast or bag of ice; however, what the fans do not see is the hard work and mental determination it takes for these players to get back on the ice. Ranging from broken bones, to stitches, to major reconstructive surgeries, the Badgers are made up of relentless women who dedicate their lives to a sport they are passionate about. 

"You can never ask why me. Once you start asking yourself that and weighing through all the possibilities, that is time wasted that you could have used to get better and get back with the team." 

One player that stands out for her battle with injuries is senior defenseman Stef McKeough. Many have read her story and know that Stef has been sidelined because of a concussion, but my focus is not on her injury. My focus is on Stef as a teammate, and as a compassionate individual who has had her athletic career halted because of a devastating injury, yet shows up for every home game to support her team. She spends hours and hours a day each week in the training room. Hours of work that people never see to try and get back to where she once was and to try to continue living life as a normal college student. 

As a former roommate, and current teammate of Stef McKeough, I can honestly say I have never met a more selfless individual. I watched her battle with her injury last year, and I think that is one of the toughest things I have had to stand by and watch a teammate go through. Someone so passionate and caring for others, with no control over what was going on in her own life. Through her struggles, I learned that the outlook on a situation is everything, and it was incredible to see someone in such a negative spot maintain such a positive composure for those around her. She has taught me, and our entire team, the true meaning of being a good teammate. Her passion for the game of hockey was always obvious, but long after being stuck in the bleachers, she continues to give back and support her team no matter what the circumstance. 

Stef is a member of the Wisconsin team that does not suit up with us on a daily basis, but gives back in an invaluable way with her support and constant encouragement. She always pats us on the back on the way to the ice, and is always giving insight between periods. She follows the team on the road, and offers positive feedback when we find ourselves frustrated. Stef McKeough is the unsung hero within our locker room, a teammate who receives little credit for the unrecognized support she provides. Like Stef, numerous of my teammates have had surgeries and injuries that have left them out for any given period of time. 

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The hours these ladies put in to get healthy are moments no fan ever sees, but are of utmost importance when describing the character and commitment that makes up a large chunk of the team's overall personality. In the four years that I have been at Wisconsin I have had my fair share of injuries, and had to rehab to battle my way back into the lineup, but none of these injuries compare to some of the battles I have watched my teammates fight in their own lives away from the rink.

Another area of life discovered when talking with my teammates and getting to know them over the years is something I will call personal hardship. In the words of one of my teammates: "I consider myself really lucky. There are going to be obstacles in your life and you have to overcome them. God has a plan for all of us". 

The personal hardship category is not to put our team in a negative spotlight or for fans to get the idea that this team is composed of a group of misfortunate and heartbroken women; but rather to point out to our fans the fact that this is a team of renowned athletes who work just as hard off the ice as they do on it in order to be the presentable and well rounded women they are today. 

"Being surrounded by such a great group of people everyday is a blessing and makes you realize how special what we have here is." 

The support system our team provides one another is something that words cannot describe. To have 24 people within two miles of you who will be there at any hour of the day for any given reason is something so rare and we are all lucky and blessed to have such compassionate individuals who put others before themselves. 

In fifth grade, a current Badger found out her mother had been diagnosed with cancer, only to learn two weeks later that her father had been diagnosed as well. 

"It was extremely difficult at the time, you learn not to complain about the little things and to value opportunities afforded to you. It's difficult to see other teammates go through it with their families. I think about it daily especially because it's so common, you hear about it more often, but also just because it affected me so heavily at such a young age." 

At age 15, another teammate lost her mother after a 17-month battle with cancer. 

"It sucked, I don't think at any point in your life losing a family member is ever easy, but it was hard being a young teenage girl. I have a lot of other people in my life who have stepped in and filled in a sort of motherly role and helped me out along the way. Some days are harder than others for instance the anniversary of her death, her birthday, and other holidays. People are aware that I find those days harder than most. I am fortunate to have formed some life long friendships with some of my current teammates as well as teammates from other teams I have played on in the past. It is easy for me to talk to those people about anything, including the loss of my mom. I am extremely grateful to be able to play a sport with teammates who are always willing to lend me a shoulder to lean on." 

These, among other difficulties teammates would rather not have shared, are some of the hardships and realities my fellow teammates have overcome in life before and during their Badger careers. The struggle of watching family members battle illness, and the tragedy of dealing with loss are areas of life that the Badger team is well acquainted with. Through these struggles, the women that make up our team have emerged as strong individuals, propelling them to success on the ice and in various outlets of life. The determined nature of my teammates has enabled a number of them to share their experience with others, and also enabled them to appreciate life in a new way, and become a supportive teammate for those around them.

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One final area of life that I wish to unveil about the Wisconsin women's hockey team is in regard to our families. The parents, siblings, and grandparents who are not pictured in highlight films, or typically mentioned in newspaper articles, but are the reason every one of us is where we are today. 

"Just the commitment and support of my family: driving me an hour to and from the rink every day of the week for practice and games, and for allowing me to leave home at the age of 14 to attend a boarding school in another state to pursue my hockey career. Times haven't always been easy financially but they always came through and made ends meet. I could not ask for a more supportive and loving family and I'm very fortunate to have so many people that believe in me and are willing to let me pursue my dreams." 

Family is something that is extremely important in the eyes of my teammates and I.  As previously discussed, we have players who have watched as family members struggle with their health, and also we have players with family members actively serving in the military, players who families struggle to make financial ends meet, and individuals who rarely get to return home except for a few days a year because of distance and commute. There are friendships made on our team that will last a lifetime, long after we hang up our skates for the last time. The overall personality and family that has emerged in our locker room as a result of the shaping of our families back home is remarkable. 

Family is an area of life for the Badgers that is beyond any material value. The financial commitment and the time consuming schedule of the sport our parents allowed us to play at a young age is often difficult for families, but our parents made it work, and because of their sacrifice every one of us is where we are today. Without the love and support of our families none of this would be possible, but also the faith our families had in us from the start. 

Becoming a Division I athlete is no easy task, and that is not to put my teammates or myself on a pedestal and say no common individual can reach this stage, but it is a dream thousands of athletes of various sports have, and is a grueling competition to achieve that final goal. Our families believed in us. They enabled us to have the resources to chase our dreams, and supported us as we failed and succeeded along the way. The parents and support from back home is something that rarely receives credit on any stage of notoriety, but on behalf of my teammates: Thank you to all the parents, siblings, loved ones, and fans who have supported us along the way. The greatest play of any of our careers came the day you made the commitment to allow us to pursue our dreams.

A number of difficult times have been previously mentioned, but as the cliché saying goes, it's the hard days that make the good ones better. The Wisconsin team no doubt has days where someone comes to the rink and finds it difficult to smile because its been a rough go, but for the most part, our lives are filled with days where there are nothing but smiles in the room. The camaraderie and character of the various individuals makes for a great atmosphere, and it is something that I have been fortunate enough to have been a part of and experience first hand for the last four years. 

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As a member of the team, I have met people who have changed my life forever and have learned more about life that I ever could about hockey. My teammates are some of the kindest and most compassionate individuals I have ever encountered, and that is often unseen from the other side of the glass. In one word, to sum up my team, I would say the Wisconsin women's hockey team is relentless. Facing every battle, on and off the ice, with the tenacity and determination that we are always stronger than anything that can happen to us in this life. 

My teammates have taught me lessons I never thought I could learn through my college hockey experience, and it is my hope that through the sharing of some of these stories that the fans will see these women in a new light. I hope after reading this account that fans see them not only as Badger student-athletes but also as strong role models in the community and strong leaders in the future. Like all people in this world, members of this team have deep histories that make up the people they are today. My teammates, no matter where they come from or what they have been through, are outstanding examples of what hard work and the pursuit of a dream can amount to. I hope you enjoyed reading about my team as much as I enjoyed sharing this small piece of our story, and we hope to see you out at LaBahn as we continue on this season in search of our ultimate goal. 

Until next time, thanks for reading, and On Wisconsin!

-Madison Packer

Packer's Perspective: Back from St. Cloud

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Hey Badger fans! Another successful weekend on the road for the team as we picked up six points before heading back to Madison. The weekend was a rocky start in the first few shifts of Friday's game as players tried to get a feel back for game pace and back in the swing of conference competition. The team picked it up by the second period and came away with a 3-1 victory.

 Saturday night was a different story as we came out fast from the start and got an early lead, pushing the team to a 4-0 victory over the Huskies. Saturday's game was much better for the team as we improved vastly from Friday to Saturday and settled back into our comfort zone.

The team took the day off Sunday after returning home late Saturday night, but was right back to work Monday morning. The upcoming series against North Dakota is the most important series of the season thus far, and we know all that is on the line as far as rankings both in the WCHA and on the national stage.

The team has an extra day to go over systems with the games this weekend falling on Saturday and Sunday and this is something we look forward to taking full advantage of. The team is looking better and better each day as we continue on our journey, and we look forward to the games this weekend as a test of where we stand and how far we have come since we last met North Dakota up in Grand Forks.

Tune in later this week for more from the Badger squad!

Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin!

 - Madison 

Packer's Perspective: New Year, New Energy

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It's that time again Badger fans, we are on the road and gearing up for tonight's game against St. Cloud State. The team left Madison yesterday afternoon and bused up to Minnesota. We arrived and had a short team practice to review systems and get the bus legs out, before checking into the hotel and having a team meal. This morning we had a typical skate around that consisted of the usual drills and games a rebound, before heading back to the hotel yet again for a little down time and pre-game meal. The game is set for 7 p.m. tonight, and the ladies know that the first game back after a long break is highly important on a number of levels.

"We are all super excited to get back into league play after having almost a month off since our last game," junior forward Blayre Turnbull said. "These games will definitely be a challenge for us. Playing against a hardworking team like St. Cloud on a big ice sheet will be an exciting way to kick off the new year. We are hoping to play these games with the same intensity and tenacity that we finished 2013 off with. It is going to be very important that we play smart, simple, and within the systems we have been practicing and playing with all season."

Junior forward Brittany Ammerman had similar thoughts and emotions going into tonight's game. 

"I think everyone is feeling refreshed from our break and is excited to be back at it for the second half of the season," Ammerman said. "We are very excited to be playing a game tonight because it's been almost a month off from games. The being said I am looking forward to our team's energy tonight. In terms of what we need to focus on in the beginning of tonight's game, I think positive energy, simple plays, and short shifts will be key to us getting back into the swing of things for this second half of the season."

The team is well rested and ready to go to work tonight on the road. We have prepared the last couple weeks to make sure we are back in game shape, and know the second half of the season is highly important if we want to reach our ultimate goal at the end of the year. The ladies are excited to be back on the ice, and looking forward to the first game back on the road.

 A little added emphasis for a win tonight is to give senior goaltender Alex Rigsby a road victory on her birthday. She's 22 today, and the victory would certainly make for a great birthday treat as she spends the day away from home. The puck drops in St. Cloud tonight at 7 p.m. Be sure to tune in and cheer the team on as we continue our journey to the finish line. 

Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin!

-Madison Packer

The Voice: New-look Badgers already taking shape

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If there is one bit of wisdom I have been able to gather through the years, it is that there really is no such thing as an offseason for coaches.

It is an interesting dynamic. There is extreme focus on the present. There is trying to find a way to win the next game. How to get a certain player to make the next step in his development. And of course, there is always an eye to the future, as recruiting season seemingly never ends.

Such is the case for Badgers head man Gary Andersen, as he and his staff conclude their first season together in Madison.

On the field, this was a good team. Yes, there were missed opportunities. In each of the four losses, players, coaches and fans can go crazy playing the game of "coulda, shoulda."  Clearly, that was the case in this week's Capital One Bowl setback to South Carolina. A key penalty. A missed fourth and short. Not getting a stop when momentum was on your side. The kind of mistakes that will haunt you against a top-flight opponent.

The result hurts, but the time to move on comes quickly. 

"It's going to be good to take a big, deep breath and get back and get started again," Andersen said. 

That is not to say the senior class -- or this team general -- will be forgotten anytime soon.

On his radio show two days before the bowl game, I asked the UW coach whether the job has been everything he had imagined. His answer is what any Badgers fan would hope to hear.

"These kids on this team have made me a better person," he said. "I feel like I am a better coach because I was able to be around them.

"It is a tremendous community. Hopefully we will be able to keep this coaching staff together and recruit like crazy because we have a good foundation built. We are blessed and lucky to be here every day, and we are excited about the future."

In about one month, the Badgers will introduce another recruiting class. With such a big senior class moving on, there will be some interesting position battles, and perhaps some of the newbies will be in the mix. 

It will be fun to track the progress of young returning players such as Corey Clement, Sojourn Shelton and Leon Jacobs, as well as redshirts Alec James and Chikwe Obasih, just to name a few.

Next season starts quickly, as in nearly right away. Soon enough, the team will begin its winter conditioning. Who will make up the next group of leaders? When asked that question on Monday, Chris Borland suggested defensive lineman Warren Herring and linebacker Derek Landisch could be a couple of strong candidates.

Andersen talked about how those players who used to sit in the third and fourth rows at team meetings would now move to the front of the room. It is their time, be they seniors or other veteran players, to make the 2014 Badgers their team.

On a personal note, and I believe I speak for many, I want to thank the seniors for giving fans many terrific memories, both on the field and in the community. This is a group that defines what is good about college athletics. Maybe I have said much the same about previous groups. If so, I take great pleasure in being redundant.

Perhaps part of what has Andersen excited about the future is that the program seems to be loaded with young men who understand the Wisconsin formula -- being the right athletic, academic and social fit.

My guess is the returning Badgers have learned a lot from the Class of 2013. The time to put those lessons to use has arrived.

The first quarter of the 2014 season is about to begin. 

Packer's Perspective: Heading Into the New Year

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Hey Badger Fans-

The time is here! We have returned back to campus and hit the ice once again, continuing on our journey to the finish line. Break was not nearly long enough, and flew by, but everyone is in agreement that it was nice to get away and spend time with loved ones over the holidays. Most of the team left campus back sometime between the 17th and the 20th of December and then we all returned by the 27th of December in order to take part in practice later that day. The break was good, and a little time away from the rink is always healthy. 

The team has returned to campus and been grinding each day, from lift, to cardio, to on ice sessions themselves, everyone is pushing hard and focused on continuing to pursue our team goal. While hockey is what brings the fans and the followers, the players are ordinary individuals just like the rest. We hang out with family members, spend time with friends, and yes, some of us still write letters to Santa (Sydney McKibbon). Upon returning to campus, I asked my teammates to list their favorite gift or moment of this Christmas season (Hanukah for senior goaltender Ilana Friedman), and here is what we came up with. Also; I have included some of the nicknames we go by, to better know the ladies! Enjoy!

#1 Jorie Walters- A ninja blender
#2 Melissa Channel (Chan)- A Garth Brooks CD set and some lulu lemon clothes
#3 Jenny Ryan- Fondue with my family for Christmas dinner...yummm!
#5 Stef McKeough- Ketchup chips, and also making the kiss cam at the Sens hockey game with my brother.
#6 Courtney Burke (@courty6)- A North Face jacket
#7 Kelly Jaminski (Jammer)- A new pair of comfy slippers
#8 Katy Harding (Stone)- Taking a trip to Hawaii with my family
#9 Molly Doner- Finally having all five of my siblings and I home together
#10 Brittany Ammerman (Brit)- Surprising my mom with the Linus bike she has always wanted
#11 Sydney McKibbon (Syd)- Skating outdoors at Lake Louise 
#12 Katy Josephs (Kath)- Skating on the outdoor rink with my brothers
#13 Katarina Zgraja (Z)- A delicious home cooked turkey dinner
#14 Madison Packer (Pack)- Bowling with my family in Aspen and skating with a group of four and five year olds at the local rink
#16 Sarah Nurse- Being with all my family
#17 Blayre Turnbull- A new pair of fuzzy socks
#20 Mikayla Johnson (MJ)- A basket to hold all my blankets
#23 Kim Drake- Decorating the Christmas tree
#24 Karley Sylvester (Carlos)- A new Sonic Care toothbrush and taking a trip to New York to visit my boyfriend...he's in the NHL, Brock Nelson, look him up.
#25 Erika Sowchuk (Sowwww)- A new pair of beats
#27 Rachel Jones (Jonesie)- A shiny new front tooth
#28 Natalie Berg (Bergie)- My Barbie jeep, it does great on the snowy Wisco roads
#30 Ann-Renee Desbiens- Having all my siblings and nephews home
#31 Ilana Friedman (Ils)- Spending time with my boyfriend on the football team
#33 Alex Rigsby (Rigs)- Magic bullet blender...I like my smoothies (she really does!!)

There you have it! All the favorite gifts and moments from the Badgers holiday season, but now it's back to work. We have six practices under our belt and we are gearing up to head to St. Cloud to start the second leg of the season. The second half of the year is a fresh start and a new chapter for us, as we look to make strides to continue getting better and focusing on reaching our ultimate goal. Tune in later this week for a full recap on practices and the trip to St. Cloud, and thoughts from players on what they look forward to moving into the first game of 2014. From the entire Badger team we wish you a safe and happy New Year and look forward to playing in front of our home crowd in 2014! 

Until next time, thanks for reading, and On Wisconsin!

-Madison Packer

ON WISCONSIN