Packer's Perspective: New Year, New Energy

| No TrackBacks
BLOG_130923_Packer_Madison_Japan_4.jpg

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

Voice_Blog_Header_140103.jpg

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

| No TrackBacks

BLOG_131206_Packer_Madison_BSU_2.jpg

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

Badgers fans fire up at pep rally

FB_131231_Pep_Rally.jpg

Badgers fans turned out in force Tuesday to fire up for the Capital One Bowl at the team's official pep rally at Pointe Orlando. They were treated to comments from seniors Jared Abbrederis, Chris Borland and James White, along with head coach Gary Andersen, director of athletics Barry Alvarez, Badgers legend Ron Dayne and UW-Madison chancellor Rebecca Blank. The UW Marching Band wrapped things up with a 30-minute performance that included all the usual fan favorites, from the Bud Song to Varsity.

- Photos: Capital One Bowl Pep Rally

FB_131231_Pep_Rally_2.jpg

Comedy, drama abound at kickoff luncheon

FB_131231_Andersen_Gary.jpg

Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen put his comedic chops on display -- with some jokes at the expense of South Carolina and Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier -- and seniors Chris Borland, Ryan Groy and James White provided some drama in winning the "Capital One Minute Challenge" over their counterparts from South Carolina at the Capital One Bowl Kickoff Luncheon on Tuesday.

Andersen's one-liners were a hit with emcee Dave Pasch of ESPN and at least half the room -- the side wearing red -- while Borland, Groy and White combined to win two of the three games styled after the game show "Minute to Win It." That included Groy snapping 42 rolls of toilet paper into a basket that Borland held 20 feet away (South Carolina managed 27 rolls in the same 60-second window) and White successfully unrolling a pair of streamers before his Gamecock opponent.

- Photos: 2014 Capital One Bowl Kickoff Luncheon


Badgers meet the media



Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, senior WR Jared Abbrederis and senior LB Chris Borland represented the Badgers at a Monday press conference in Orlando to preview the Capital One Bowl.

Among the highlights:

- Ludwig on the Badgers' offensive game plan for South Carolina: "We're going to play to our strength. We're a run/play-action team. That's the way we're built. So we're going to go into the game with that mindset. I don't think there's any surprise there."

- Aranda on defending South Carolina: "I see great athletes. I see an offense that can go from a power run game to a spread attack. I see an offense that can change plays based upon the defensive structure."

- Abbrederis on head coach Gary Andersen: "I think he just brought back the fun in football."

- Borland on the Badgers being favored in the game: "I was a little surprised. We're confident that we're going to win. It's just this huge SEC, you know, bias out there that they're a great conference -- which they are. But, yeah, I was surprised but still confident -- and we expect to win."

Here's the complete transcript of the Badgers' remarks

Badgers look to score more than points

FB_131229_Uplifting_Athletes.jpg


The scoreboard will be the focus of the Wisconsin football team during the Capital One Bowl on Wednesday. After the game, however, the Badgers' focus will be on a different tally.

Members of the team will be checking to see how their efforts to get in the end zone on game day helped raise funds for a rare disease through UW's chapter of Uplifting Athletes.

Fans can pledge a specific amount to donate for each touchdown the Badgers score in the Capital One Bowl, with each score multiplying the amount the UW chapter raises to battle the disease Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis X.

Thoese interested can pledge a contribution using PledgePlatform.

"Fans can start by being familiar with the fight against rare diseases and donating. Anything will help," said UW running back and Uplifting Athletes chapter president Jeff Lewis. "Pledges made by our fans and supporters will be compared to South Carolina at the end of the game. 

"Our goal is to have more money raised than they do."

UW's Uplifting Athletes chapter supports fundraising efforts to battle the rare disease Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis X because of the team's friendship with Madison teen Darien Moran, who grew close to the Badgers while receiving treatment for the disease.

Those efforts led to the Badgers to undertake the touchdown pledge drive that will pit UW against South Carolina off the field, as well. The Gamecocks' chapter of Uplifting Athletes raises funds and awareness for Pelizaeus-Merzbacher, an inherited rare disease that affects the central nervous system.

"We started a Chapter at Wisconsin to be part of the good Uplifting Athletes was doing," UW linebacker Chris Borland said. "The desire was strengthened when we met Darien."

Badgers react to Packers' winning TD


The Badgers had a busy day Sunday that began with the Day for Kids at DisneyQuest. Some players stayed at Walt Disney World to enjoy the Happiest Place on Earth, but many were sure to pull up a seat at the team hotel to watch the Green Bay Packers' regular-season finale against Chicago. 

The reaction when Packers QB Aaron Rodgers hit Randall Cobb for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown? Priceless.

Most in the room were thrilled with the Packers' push into the playoffs by securing the NFC North Division title. Except for Bears fan Vonte Jackson, that is. The running back -- decked out in his Matt Forte jersey -- wasn't as pleased with the result.

The Camp: Orlando - Episode 2


The latest installment of "The Camp: Orlando" goes behind the scenes of the Badgers' preparations for the Capital One Bowl, from the team's chartered flight on a 747 to practice in Orlando to a Best Buy shopping spree and more.

Badgers Give Back: DisneyQuest

| No TrackBacks
ON WISCONSIN