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Packer's Perspective: Time for NCAAs

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Spring Forward '14: Practice #4 Photo of the Day

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The offensive and defensive lines battled it out in a series of one-on-one drills during Monday's practice, including this head-to-head matchup between OL Kyle Costigan and DE Konrad Zagzebski (Brian Mason photo).

Spring Forward '14: Practice #3 Photo of the Day

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Running backs Corey Clement and Melvin Gordon are expected to spend most of spring on the sideline as less experienced players get the majority of the reps, which was exactly the case Saturday as the duo looked on at drills inside the McClain Center (Brian Lucas photo).

- Photo Gallery: Spring Practice #3

Spring Forward '14: In-depth look at Badgers in Varsity

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In this week's issue of Varsity magazine, Mike Lucas sits down with UW head coach Gary Andersen and coordinators Dave Aranda and Andy Ludwig for an in-depth at what to watch for during spring practice:
Wisconsin offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig has a favorite phrase to describe the standard growing pains for everyone involved. "A year ago at this time, you were drinking water through a fire hose," he said. "Now, you're going about your business and getting ready for a great spring."

The operative word is "settled." Andersen used it, so did Ludwig. "We're so much more settled," Ludwig said. "The coaches know each other. The coaches know the players. The players know the coaches and the system is intact. The system is not changing. There's no new terminology to learn."

It's fair to say everything has settled down on both sides of the ball. That's what UW defensive coordinator Dave Aranda was saying. "In the attitude, in the expectations and in the anticipation of what's coming -- in all of those things -- I just think we're ahead (this spring)," he said.
Read the full story here: Varsity: A Time for Change

Spring Forward '14: Practice #1 Photo of the Day

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Spring football is, more than anything, a learning opportunity and assistant coach Ben Strickland used sophomore-to-be Sojourn Shelton as a teaching tool for his fellow cornerbacks during Wednesday's first practice session (Brian Mason photo).

Packer's Perspective: Playoff Edition

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Hey Badger Fans!

The time is here! Its playoffs, the best time of the season, and the team is more excited than ever to hit the ice tonight and get one game under our belt. I caught up with a few teammates about the game, getting their thoughts on heading into playoffs, and for freshman forward Sydney McKibbon, what her thoughts were heading into her first set of college playoffs ever.

"I wouldn't say that I'm nervous, but more anxious to get the games going. This is the best time of the year to be playing hockey," McKibbon said. "When you get into playoff time anything can happen and I think that's what makes it so exciting. Every team starts over again and no one is guaranteed anything. I am looking forward to the energy we are going to have in LaBahn this weekend with the band and all the fans."

Sophomore forward Erika Sowchuk also agreed about the exciting games heading into the weekend.

"I am looking forward to the intensity," Sowchuk said, "every game is a nail biter and every team is putting it all on the line. We need to compete for the whole game and show a lot of tenacity."

One final teammate I caught up with was Katy Josephs. A key right-winger on a line with Blayre Turnbull and Brittany Ammerman, who often goes unrecognized, is essential to the teams success this weekend, and she fully recognizes the effort that will be necessary for the team to advance to the WCHA playoffs.

"I am looking forward to seeing our tam give it all we've got," Josephs said. "Everyone knows that now it's do or die and the intensity of every game will go up for our team as well as for other teams. It's always fun to see what happens during playoffs because there will be teams that make it to tournaments that you don't expect. It makes for a fun and exciting couple of weeks."

The team can all agree on two things: the weekend will be full of intensity and nothing is guaranteed. The team knows that we need to bring 100% each night for 60 minutes in order to advance on in playoffs, and we need to focus on playing our game and doing the little things that have helped us to find success up to this point in the season.

"In order to be successful this weekend we need to play the way we've been playing all year," McKibbon said. "We need to come out fast to set the tone for the series this weekend and play a consistent 60 minutes. I think that if everyone plays their role and works hard we will be very successful."

Josephs agrees that we need to stick to our game and not worry ourselves with changing too much heading into the weekend.

"I think as a team we just have to keep doing what we have been all year which is playing and competing as hard as we can but also having fun doing it," Josephs said. "I think one of the biggest reasons we've been successful this year is because everyone looks forward to coming to the rink every day with a positive attitude. This results in a strong work ethic where everyone is pushing themselves to be better."

The team hits the ice tonight at 7 p.m. to face off for the first game of the series against Minnesota State. We hope to see all the fans out and cheering us to victory as we continue on our journey to the ultimate goal. If you like Badger Hockey, this will be a series you don't want to miss!

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

- Madison


Packer's Perspective: It's Playoff Time

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Hey Badger Fans!

It has been a while since the last post, and a lot has happened for the Badger squad. First, I would like to thank all those who came out and supported the team as we played in front of 13,573 fans at Fill the Bowl. It was a great experience to shatter the attendance record once again, and it was an honor for the senior class to be able to do it in the Kohl Center in front of our home fans where our journey began back four years ago.

Last weekend the team was in Mankato. There was a bad storm that hit up in Minnesota Thursday afternoon, so we loaded the bus up late Wednesday night and got in to Mankato at about 2 in the morning on Thursday. The team was able to sleep in before we headed over as a group to Applebee's to watch the USA and Canada Olympic Women's Hockey Gold Medal Game. There was quite the tension between the Canadians and Americans around the tables, but it was a hard fought game, and we are proud of all our Badger alumni regardless of the outcome. It was a fun atmosphere and a great way to bond as a team. After the game we made our way over to the rink for a practice, before returning back to the hotel for dinner.

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Friday morning the team woke up had a team skate and then watched another battle between USA and Canada, this time it was the men's hockey teams squaring off. Again, the Canadians were the happier group leaving the room, but it was again a fun experience for the team. Our game that night was a hard fought battle, and we came out on top 5-1. The team came out fast and battled from the start and we were happy to get the first win on the road, not to mention the two textbook breakaway goals back to back that were scored by Blayre Turnbull (oh and both were short handed!).

Saturday morning we woke up and watched the men's bronze medal game. After the game we got some coffee as a team, watched film to improve from the night before. The team had one goal in mind, to finish the regular season on a positive note, and we were successful getting a 3-1 victory. After the game we loaded up the bus and headed back to Madison, but not before stopping off to grab some frozen yogurt. It is extremely rare for the bus to stop for any reason, and the team was pumped when we pulled in to the yogurt bar. After getting back to Madison around 10:30 p.m. we headed home to get some much needed rest.

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The team had a recovery day Sunday to get ready for the upcoming stretch and we are excited for the journey that lies ahead. Monday was the first practice of the post season, and the team was full of energy. The post season is when the real excitement begins, and we are looking forward to grinding it out in the hunt for the opportunity to play for a championship. The post season starts this weekend as we host Minnesota State Friday night, and we hope all those who can make it come out to support us. It should be a great atmosphere and the team is feeling good about where we are and the potential we have heading in to playoffs. Crazy things happen when playoffs come around, and we are looking forward to playing our best hockey of the season when it matters most.

Thank you to all those in Madison and back home who have supported us up to this point in the journey! The team is getting ready for a tough couple of weeks, and we are confident in our ability to compete amongst the best teams in the country!

Check back in at the end of the week to get anticipations from players about what to expect heading into playoffs, and how a few of the freshmen plan to prepare for their first college playoff experience!

Until next time, thanks for reading and On Wisconsin!

 - Madison

 

Badger Blog: Resilience is the recipe for future success

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In this week's Badger Blog, head coach Yvette Healy explores the opportunity her team has to bounce back from a tough start to the season and make a statement in the days and weeks to come.

Resilience:

This is a core skill we all wish we had more of. It's important to sports, and critical to life. Can you bounce back from failure? Can you overcome adversity? Do you have the ability to persevere when things get tough? If you really want to train resilience, you need failure.

Congratulations Badger softball, we have an amazing opportunity to train resilience this week. We're 4-5 so far this season, after a tough 2-3 performance in Miami. The question is, where do we go from here? It's so easy to get emotional, and make excuses when we fail. You can ignore the problem and hope it will go away, or face the issues head on. Sometimes it takes a little failure and adversity early on to remind everyone how hard this journey really is. If we could cruise for one moment, one game, or one tournament, then every goal and accomplishment in May wouldn't be nearly as gratifying.

Even after a good season last year, it's so important for every player in the program to understand how much work it takes to be consistently good each and every day. Consistent performance is path, not a destination. Great players find a way to bring energy, enthusiasm and focus every day. College athletes have to work for consistency, every day, every game and every season to continue to grow.

This spring is certainly a gut check for our badger softball athletes and staff. There are challenges each and every game. There's adversity every pitch, and every inning. Yet somehow you can't prepare for how it feels. You really have to live through strikeouts, losses, error's and giving up home runs to experience it, learn from it, flush it and move on. These are the times that teach resilience. When you pour your heart into something and lose, that's when you're ready to learn. These are the moments that character is formed. If you dig deep, take responsibility for your performance, learn, make changes, and truly work hard, we'll all emerge stronger and tougher.

We're learning resilience right now, each and every morning we wake up, get back to work, and get better. Our goal this week is to keep learning, and to play better softball. That's all there is to do. 

Packer's Perspective: Border Battle Part II

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Hey Badger Fans!

The time is here, and the team has never been more prepared than we are now to step up to the plate and take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The team has worked hard all week to study film, execute plays, and fine tune systems, but more importantly, we have been preparing all season to take on the number one ranked team in front of our home crowd. This is the biggest series of the season so far, and we are excited for the opportunity to play at home and finish the regular season off at home with two great games.

We have had a great week of practice, and everyone is feeling good heading into the weekend. The team is looking forward to the opportunity and know we are prepared to play the best six periods of hockey yet this year Friday and Saturday night.

When talking with junior forward Blayre Turnbull, she was excited, pumped up, but most of all focused heading into the weekend.

"There are a few things I am looking forward to this weekend," Turnbull said. "I always look forward to playing the Gophers, but this weekend is especially special since we will get to play in the Kohl Center (Saturday night) and hopefully break a record. Another thing I am looking forward to is having my family in town. There are few opportunities for them to get here throughout the season so it will be great to have them in the stands this weekend."

Sophomore power house defenseman Courtney Burke had similar emotions about the upcoming series.

"Just playing in a rivalry against Minnesota is always a game we get up for and it's even that the games are in front of all our friends and family," Burke said. "Both players, like most of the team, are looking forward to having friends and family here this weekend, but also recognize that what goes on inside the glass is our primary focus."

This weekend has a great deal of activity, from Senior Night Friday to Fill the Bowl Saturday, but the team knows what is most important is getting the much needed wins to make these moments that much more memorable.

"We need to focus on playing Badger hockey," Burke said. "Play the whole 60 minutes each night and out work the other team. Those are some of our strengths and we need to stick to them all weekend."

Turnbull could not agree more that hard work and sticking to what we have done all season is what will make the difference for us this weekend.

"For our team to be successful it is going to be super important to stick to our game," Turnbull said. "If we play well defensively like we have been lately, things will fall into place offensively." It is no secret that the Gophers have a number of threats offensively, but sticking to our game and taking care of our end will lead to opportunities for us to capitalize in the offensive zone.

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This weekend is set to be the best series of the season. With both teams coming off long winning streaks, and the competitive nature of both squads, the games are sure to be a fast pace battle from start to finish. We are looking forward to the puck drop Friday night, and going to work as we battle the number one team in our own barn.

The puck drops Friday night at 7 p.m. and we hope to see all our fans out to cheer us on. For those who can't make the game Friday, be sure to clear your calendar for Saturday night 7 p.m. as we will play for the first time in two years in the Kohl Center, looking to break the NCAA attendance record for a third time! Come on out and cheer us to victory as we continue on our journey to the finish line this season!

Until next time, thanks for reading, and ON WISCONSIN!!

-Madison Packer

Packer's Perspective: Back From the Buckeye State

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ON WISCONSIN