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Below is the team chalk talk from Sunday morning, before the Badgers' last game at Purdue.  Coach Healy talks about playing the game with passion and embracing the challenges they have faced this season.

Our opening Big Ten weekend was certainly challenging.  We didn't pitch, hit or defend well.  We're almost 30 games into the season, and we still have one more road series at Northwestern, before we have our first home game.  Our goal right now, is to focus on the process.  We're working as a staff, to continue to teach, focus on effort, improvement, execution and approach.

These hard times have so much to teach.  They have so much to teach about our approach, our thoughts, our minds and our actions.  When things get tough, as they are right now, how do you get from here to there?  When life isn't what you want it be, are you action oriented?  What goes through your head?  Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?  Are you moving forward or moving backwards?  Do your thoughts help you or hinder you?

I saw a great quote, and TedTalk that said, "Fear of failure means you're not focused on the task at hand".  You're more worried about what could go wrong than how to execute what you're doing.

I'm sure this isn't a news flash, life is hard.  You're going to face adversity.  The sad part is, the adversity you'll see in life moving forward is 10 times harder than this adversity in sports.  You'll have to deal with losing a parent, a sick sibling, kids and drama, mortgages, saving for college, cooking and cleaning.  That's real life, that's stress.  This isn't stressful, it's just playing the game you love.  It's not life or death, it's softball,   It's not heart surgery, don't make it more than it is.  You have prepared, you've worked hard, go out there and play the game with passion.

Before we can think about playing like champions, you first have to think like a champion.  Champions are in the moment.  They are focused.  Are you focused or distracted?  Are you thinking about this inning, this pitch, this at bat, this ground ball, or are you carrying with you all the feelings and emotions of what's gone wrong?  Defeatist thoughts are a pity party.  What's going through your head?  "I should be better, our team should be better, no one's nice, no one likes me, coach doesn't believe in me, here we go again, this kid's unreal, I'll never hit her, she's owned me.  I wish we were better, I can't believe how cold it is, I can't believe it's going to snow, why did I come here, maybe I made a wrong choice, I miss my friends, I miss my family, I want to go home."

How is that going to help?  We know when you're thinking it. We know when you're distracted.

Or, are you in the moment?  Are you gritty?  Can no obstacle bring you down or make you lose focus?  How is grit made?  You have to earn it.  You have to go through it.  You really have to experience the down to feel the up.  You have to know bad to really appreciate and relish good.  There needs to be some death, for you to truly understand life.  That's the truth.  You earn your grit.  And here's a chance.

Sometimes you have to go down, to go up.  Let's embrace the challenge, and relish the climb.

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With the season underway, Wisconsin softball head coach Yvette Healy talks about what the team is focusing on in the bye week and how the team must use some fight moving forward. 

Let's get better.

We're so fortunate at the University of Wisconsin, to have an Athletics Director who has coached.  Coach Alvarez not only understands how to run a highly successful athletics department, but he's been in the coaching trenches.  With his big Outback Bowl comeback win in January, he actually just climbed out of the trenches once again.  Coach knows what it's like to build a program from the ground up, to transform the culture, and to create a winning legacy.  It's never a straight climb, and the journey is never easy.  After two challenging weekends on the road, we invited Coach Alvarez to practice, to share a few insights into becoming a legacy program.  The bottom line, Coach talked about the importance of getting better every day. 

We have a bye this weekend, and it couldn't come at a better time.  We're 5-6 right now, after coming home with four wins from a weekend in Texas.  Yet with a young squad like we have, it's all about progress.  We're seeing a few bright moments, with freshman pitcher Mariah Watts earning her first victory, and junior pitcher, Taylor Stewart racking up two wins, but all-in-all, we have a lot of work to do.  Our focus this week has been on getting our heads in the right place, getting back to fundamentals, and just working hard.  We've talked all year about, "What are you Fighting For?"  The interesting thing is, when you struggle and lose a few games, fight is the first thing that starts to fade.  Before you ever drop a game, you lose a little bit of fight in your preparation, you lose some fight in your response to adversity, and you forget how to fight when it comes to putting in extra work, getting extra sprints, watching your film and meeting with your coaches.

"What are you Fighting For/WRUF4", is about being passionate about earning something together.  Before the season began, most of the team talked about fighting for the Badgers, fighting for the state of Wisconsin, fighting to create a legacy.  The interesting thing about fighting, is that it never happens.  People rarely fight.  People avoid confrontation.  We read a great article as a team from Psychology Today magazine, called, "Beyond Happiness".  The author suggests that anger isn't a negative emotion, it actually fuels change, and prompts people to stand up for the life they deserve.

The absence of fighting does not equal a healthy environment.  We all know families, marriages, relationships and friendships where people never fight, those aren't always the healthiest environments.  The opposite of love isn't hate, its indifference.  That, is the greatest problem of all.  Apathy, and not really caring what happens, and not really feeling motivated to do anything or change anything is the greatest failure of all.

What we are looking for right now, is a little bit of true passion.  We want people to be angry, to have an emotional response, and to fight to get better.  If you just ignore a problem, it's not solved, it's just lying under the surface.  If you are okay with being a below .500 team, just ignore what's not working and smile and keep doing what you're doing.  If you refuse to lose, and you refuse to be the athlete, or team that we are right now, let's get angry about it.  Let's get a little fire, and feel the urgency.  It's not an option to just go through motions, and show up.  FIGHT!

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Badger Blog with Coach Healy

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It was a short turnaround after opening weekend at Arizona State.  We're back on the road, traveling Wednesday, to play six games this weekend in Texas.  I think everyone on the team is anxious to get back out on the field.  Opening weekend was tough, as we faced a full weekend of very talented teams.  We were happy to see freshman pitcher Annie Davis, get her first collegiate win in front of her hometown Arizona Crowd.  She pitched a beautiful shutout against Virginia, showing a lot of composure and maturity in the circle.  Freshman walk-on Brianna Flugaur had her first collegiate hit and run scored against Oregon on Sunday, which was fun to witness.

Beyond the excitement of great weather, and all the key learnings that come from getting outdoors for the first time, the highlight of weekend was definitely our team dinner at Wisconsin Alumni and donors, Steve and Marsh Bennett.  Below is the thank you note we sent to the Bennett's.  What an unforgettable experience for our student-athletes.

Steve and Marsha,
Thank you so much for your generosity and hospitality, hosting the Wisconsin Softball team at your house.  It was such a treat to see Scottsdale, and the mountains. These early trips are so much about team unity and bonding. Your home was the perfect setting for a team meal.

The girls were so impressed with your home, your inspirational success story and your Wisconsin athletics family legacy. Yet the most inspirational part of the night was having you share your story of stewardship. Everyone loves hearing how you went from a Wisconsin baseball walk-on to Hall of Fame athlete and CEO. Still, your vision and generosity for the Wisconsin Student-Athlete Performance Center is what touched their hearts.

When I think about what three things I accomplished opening weekend, bringing the softball team to your house is at the top of my list. You helped open their eyes to a world of possibility, of what amazing things they can achieve with their Wisconsin student-athlete experience.

Thank you again for your generosity and kindness! 

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With the start of the season on the close horizon, Wisconsin softball head coach Yvette Healy talks about the team's core values and how they will drive the team to success in the upcoming season. 

This is certainly going to be a new year for Badger Softball.  Looking ahead, we have seven games against teams ranked in the pre-season top 25, and almost 20 games against 2014 NCAA tournament teams.  We have two short weeks until we open up at Arizona State, facing off against University of California Northridge, Utah Valley and Virginia, before closing out to the weekend against Pac-12 rivals Oregon State and No. 2 Oregon. 

The past two seasons have been so special, posting back-to-back NCAA Regional Championship game appearances,  and finishing ranked in the top 25.  We graduated four All-Region seniors, who each contributed so much to our recent success.  As we work to help our newest leaders emerge, our focus has been on competing with character.  Our weekly chalk talks this fall featured how we can approach this challenge with passion and integrity. 

Wisconsin Softball 2015 -Core Values

1.     Gritty

2.     Selfless

3.     Driven

4.     Dynamic

In the Wisconsin Softball Family, we strive for our thoughts and actions to reflect our program's core values.  When a student-athlete embodies the core values of the program, she will be successful.  In order to maximize potential and reach optimal performance, fit is key.  When coaches, student-athletes, and support staff are aligned with the program's core values, synergy is created; athletes are connected, supported, and ready to learn, coaches are engaged, empowered and motivated to teach.  If we can put our core values into action this season, our greatest challenges will simply become opportunities to work together, grow and achieve together.

Wisconsin Softball Core Values in Action:

In order to understand and connect with our core values, it is important that our thoughts, preparation and actions connect back to what we value most.  When our words and deeds reflect our core values, we are in sync with our inner purpose and mission.  We are then aligned with who we are, what we value, what we're fighting for, and the significance we're searching for.

  1. Gritty

No amount of adversity, loss, setback, or failure seems permanent.  We are in charge of our own success and destiny.  When we have bad at-bats, bad innings, bad games, and even bad seasons, we know that we can work to overcome these challenges.  At the core, we know that life is good, and we are fortunate and talented.  We continue to connect with our teammates, communicate with our coaches, utilize our resources and work hard on our own to become better than the day before.  The path may be rocky at times, but our vision is clear, and our goals are worthy.  We are changing the culture of Wisconsin softball, bringing respect to our state and university, proving that a warm-weather sport can thrive in a cold-weather state. Confidence and composure are key elements of grit.  Our outstanding work-ethic, sacrifice, and preparation allows us to be optimistic and successful.

  1. Selfless

The selfless Wisconsin softball athletes always values the success of the program and team over personal glory.  She finds joy and gratification in the success of the team.  She embraces her role, and feels her contribution is crucial.  She works to do more, give more, and make the program better than when she arrived.  Selfless teammates care about each other's accomplishments.  They work to make their teammates look better on and off the field, backing up plays to save errors, being loyal in times of crisis,  giving full effort, diving for free outs to support the pitchers, minimizing personal drama and distraction.  Selfless teammates hustle, are engaged and play hard each time they step on their field.  They respect their coaches and teammates time, and are always engaged, enthusiastic, trustworthy.  Wisconsin softball student-athletes know that everyone has her own challenges and struggles, her goal is to make those around her better, and make people smile.  She wants to make the team better, improve the culture, and give back to her coaches, athletics department and university.

  1. Driven

Wisconsin softball student-athletes are driven, over-achievers.  They understand that creating momentum and legacy is far more challenging than walking into a program with proven success.  She embraces being an underdog, and wants to put her stamp on Wisconsin Softball.  She has come to Madison to break records, create a championship legacy, and achieve things that no team in the history of Wisconsin softball ever has.  In all parts of her life, she strives for success, overcoming odds and obstacles.  She over-achieves by always finding a way to succeed despite lacking a map for success, benchmarks or mentors.  A lack of All-Americans, blue-chip recruits, or post-season runs, is never an excuse for mediocrity.  These trailblazers take pride in being the first to achieve great things in sports and life. 

Wisconsin softball is about more than winning and losing.  Well-rounded athletes know that happiness and optimal performance go hand-in-hand.  In order to achieve true greatness in life, it's never just about personal glory.  Driven, well-rounded student-athletes value a renaissance experience.  They want to be great at many things, from academics, athletics, and community service to relationships.  Our well-rounded athletes have maturity, perspective and purpose.  When we know life is about more than softball, we can truly enjoy the time we spend training and perfecting the gifts and talents we've been given.

  1. Dynamic

Wisconsin softball athletes are exciting, driven, and full of vitality.  They are well-spoken, endearing, dynamic young women who find ways to achieve great things in life.  Wisconsin softball athletes are passionate about their opportunity to be a Badger, and earn a University of Wisconsin degree.  She loves competing at one of the most challenging academic and athletic institutions in the country.  She is driven to achieve great things, and excited to take on new challenges.  Her energy and optimism is obvious, in the way she approaches learning, training, academics and competition.  She is fiercely loyal to her teammates, coaches, and the athletics department.  She understands how special and finite this opportunity is.  Every season, every game, every inning, out, at-bat, and pitch matters.  Her hustle and enthusiasm let others know how much she cares about her teammates, Wisconsin Softball, and this opportunity.

Hey friends!

Happy New Year's y'all! I'm sitting in an Evanston, Illinois, hotel room watching the Randy Moss 30 for 30 documentary, with a big ol' bottle of water. Crazy exciting New Year's Eve right? I know my New Year's Eve isn't typical of a 20-year-old college kid but never the less, I'm still extremely grateful for my quiet evening in Evanston. 2014 was a year that deserves a quiet evening and one last entry.

Personally, this year felt like a lifetime condensed into 365 days. I feel like I learned lessons that some people never get the opportunity to learn.

My AAU teammates and one of my close friends was killed in a car accident on June 3. She was the friend and teammate we all dream about. Our days on this earth are simply not promised and I vowed to never step on the court again without playing for her. However, after my second knee surgery in July and months of still being in pain, I made the decision to step away from the game for a while and focus on getting myself healthy.

If any of y'all know me, you know how hard this decision was for me to make. My mom and a very long conversation at the most hipster coffee shop in Madison, taught me that not even the game I love is worth risking my health for the rest of my life. The amount of pain I push through does not define how much I love my team and this game. In the meantime, I've had to find ways to encourage my team off the court. That, my friends, is a process still in the making but I will say, I am learning every day.

As for the team, this year was one of trials, but more importantly, perseverance.

Our team's record with injuries seems to be a constant theme, but I would argue the more remarkable theme is our relentless fight. Within the last year I have witnessed these players beat teams with a roster of 15 with our seven players. Despite the injuries, we always find a way to fight until the buzzer, and for that I am always proud to be a Badger.

We ended the year beating Michigan at the Kohl Center. Needless to say, the trials were more than worth it. As we head into the Big Ten season and the New Year, we are ready to reap the successes that the trials of 2014 prepared us for. We are a veteran team with a veteran mind set that is stable and unwavering. 2015 is going to be one to not only remember, but one to witness. 

Thanks for the support, the love and the memories Badger fans! We can't wait to see what 2015 has in store for us!

Happy New Year friends!

Hey friends!

 Sadly, I'm writing this post while wearing my dad's old sweatshirt, which means the trip to the Bahamas is over and we are back in the frozen tundra.

Last week was nothing short of unforgettable and we returned with tanner skin, full bellies and thankful hearts. I have to admit that spending Thanksgiving on an island threw me off. I had to keep reminding myself that it was thanksgiving, normally by telling every American that walked by "Happy Thanksgiving!" It was a jam packed trip with activities, experiences, and sites we will never forget.

Since there were so many neat things to do and see, I decided to make a video of everything I documented. It seemed much more efficient, and honestly it gave me a reason to use iMovie. But before you watch the movie, here are a few things we are thankful for this Thanksgiving:

--Our amazing families that give us never-ending support, especially the ones who made the trip to the Bahamas with us. We love y'all more than you know (even when we don't show it)

--Our coaches and teammates that keep us laughing everyday

--The kind and gracious Bahamian people who let us use their gyms and schools for our games

--Coffee, because while getting up at 6 a.m. to watch the sunrise every day was beautiful, it was also exhausting

--Paddle boards, because they provided Wednesday afternoon's entertainment (well actually it was Malayna, Cayla and my horrible attempts to paddle board that really got the people going)

--The hilarious and kind dolphin trainers who let us meet, hang out and even kiss some of God's most beautiful creations (and our guy Buddy, for letting us act like fools on his boat)

--Last but most certainly not least, Teddy, our joyful, serenading tour guide/bus driver

And without further ado, I give y'all a Badger Thanksgiving!

Love, Shannon

Badger Thanksgiving

Below is a letter sent to the team from the coaching staff this week:
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving this week.  When we think about what we're most grateful for, working with all of you every day, and coaching at Wisconsin is pretty high up.  Of course we love our families, spouses, and kids, but it's an amazing thing in life to have a vocation.  When you're lucky enough to have a job that you truly enjoy, it's special.  If you're passionate about what you do, who you get to help and inspire, and how you can use your gifts and talents to make others' lives a little better, it's easy to get up in the morning. 
As you're all working on your degrees and studying for finals, I hope you're fighting to create a life that makes you and those around you happy.  I hope you're studying and sacrificing now, so that you can spend your days doing something that you love, being good at it, and helping people along the way.  It's a privilege to work here at UW Madison.  It's fun teaching a game that has opened so many doors for us, and created so many memories and stories in our lives.
Coach Schneider, Coach Dow, and I, have all enjoyed working out with you this fall, watching you push yourselves in the weight room, in conditioning, on the field and in the classroom.  Even if the treadmill sprints, lunges and abs make us want to throw up, we're proud watching all of you dominate the workouts!  We're looking forward to watching all of you maximize your talent this year, as you grow as young people, and learn to lead. 
Thank you for taking a leap of faith and joining the Badger Softball Family.  I know it's not always easy, but you're working to do something special and become something special.  Right now, playing softball is your vocation, being a student-athlete is your calling.  I hope it brings you a great deal of pride to tell people you're a Wisconsin student-athlete, representing the Big Ten!
Gobble Gobble

Hello friends!

I'm currently typing on the bus as we're headed to Drake, which means one thing - sweet, sweet season is in full swing.

This is the time of the year to iron out our kinks as a team on the court and more importantly, to improve. I remember during my freshman year, this was the time everything started to sink in. This is when I started to feel like a real college athlete.

Season is in full swing and school work starts throwing better curveballs than Sandy Koufax. Oh, plus there is a very good chance we are traveling all weekend. Let me tell y'all, it is no joke.

So, this week I sat down with our freshmen, Roichelle Marble and Cayla McMorris, to see how they were handling college athletics.

The other day I walked into the NJP (our practice gym) and was facing the opposite direction of the door. All of a sudden I heard Coach Bobbie yell "Oh, there's Trouble 1 and Trouble 2!" I didn't have to turn around to know who she was talking about.

It is an extremely rare occasion to spot Roichelle without Cayla and vice versa. They are more attached at the hip than Michala and Malayna, which is ironic because Michala and Malayna are actual sisters. Needless to say, if I ever see one, I know the other is not far behind. So far, the only place Cayla can go without Roichelle is the court. Having torn her Achilles in the summer, Roichelle is still not released to play yet but that hasn't stopped her from experiencing all that college has to offer. 

When I asked Roichelle how she would sum up college as a whole so far, she replied as only Roichelle could. "It's definitely very different than what I'm used to, especially the walking. I've never had to walk to class before. My classes are just really spread out across campus"

If any of you have visited UW, I'm sure you can relate. I promise this isn't a freshman just being a freshman, this campus is huge, y'all and unfortunately, getting to class isn't the hardest part.

This university prides itself on its curriculum and the type of students it admits. Sometimes getting a paper turned in on time means we don't sleep one night, but hey, that's the price we pay! We all have to learn to adjust.

Roichelle says so far the hardest part for her has been "the classes and "how the teachers aren't as guiding. In high school, the teacher explains what is expected. In college, you're just in a lecture and he talks, and you have to take notes and in a few weeks you have a paper due on what he said."

I know for a fact that I can barely remember what I ate for breakfast most days, so you can imagine how difficult it can be for us to recall what our professors said three weeks ago.

On a lighter note, I asked Roichelle what the easiest part of college has been. She paused to ponder, sighed, looked me dead in the face and said "There's really no easy part about it."

I immediately laughed because although I have only spent a few months with Roichelle, I still know a few very solid attributes about her - she can nap ANYWHERE (and I mean anywhere y'all, as a fellow napper myself, I am often quite impressed) and also, every word that comes out of her mouth is exactly what she is thinking. It is funny, honest, and real. And for that, we love her.

Roichelle says for now she is focused on fully rehabbing her Achilles and is working toward a 3.0 GPA for her freshman year. As all freshman eventually do, she has learned the "do not procrastinate" lesson. 

I would say that means she's already half way to that goal. Her situation is a little different due to her injury, but for now she says her role is to "encourage everyone". If what I have observed already continues, I have no doubt 'Trouble 1' will not only achieve, but surpass all of her freshman year goals.

As for having to watch 'Trouble 2' play everyday while she has to sit, Roichelle says "I'm happy for Cayla! She's my friend and I want her to do well."

Personally, I'm very happy I get another year to play with this girl. She is goofy and quick to give her opinion, but she is a hard worker, a great teammate, and she is going to do amazing things in a Badger jersey.

If any of y'all watched the Vanderbilt game or looked at a stat sheet, you can tell Cayla McMorris is adjusting quite well on the court. Our little diaper dandy finished with 11 points and grabbed four rebounds in just 18 minutes.

 

When we sat down, she mentioned the college style of play made her a little nervous. "The bigger girls, and how strong they are" was the biggest difference college basketball has shown her so far.

She already has the speed and skills that college basketball demands, which gave her a huge advantage coming to Madison, but it is rare for a freshman to have the strength required to compete.

That's what the summer before our freshman year is for. She agrees all of those early mornings will be worth it "to win a Big Ten tournament and to get to the NCAA tournament."

But the reigning Minnesota AAA state champion doesn't want to stop there, with dreams of earning first-team All-Big Ten honors one day. I would have to say she is on the right track.

If there was a Ms. Popular award in college, she would probably be on the right track for that too.

I had a hunch about what she would say the easiest adjustment to college was. "Meeting new people, it's easy to get to know other athletes, because we spend so much time in the same places." Needless to say, I wasn't surprised.

If you've ever had a conversation with Cayla, then you've probably heard her laugh, or make some joke (probably about you). If you've ever seen her play, then you should be excited for the future of Badger women's basketball.

Our squad returns quite a few veterans this year, but Cayla's age hasn't proved to be the slightest of a problem on the court. In fact, she says its "helpful because it brings maturity to the team, and I look up to them. It means I have to step up. I know the bar is set at a high level."

There aren't many of them, but our freshman are more than ready and able to take on the responsibilities of college basketball. Both of these players described being a Badger as a blessing and I could not agree more. College is a journey, but college basketball is a journey for the tough, the disciplined, and the talented future. If I were y'all, I would get your season tickets now.

Catch y'all next week!

Oh and Happy Thanksgiving! Gobble Gobble

-Shannon Malone

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Hey fans!

It is with a huge smile and pure joy that I finally tell you, college basketball is officially upon us. This is undoubtedly my favorite time of the year. Basketball players all across the country are lacing up their new shoes, reuniting with jerseys that were in the equipment room for far too long, putting together brand new pre-game playlists and in our case, picking out the perfect headbands. We are breathing the air of fresh starts and endless possibilities that only comes with a new season. It really is a beautiful thing. Here's my first blog of the season!

For some of you, this is the first time you'll get to see your favorite team (the Badgers) showcase what they have been working on all summer and preseason, but for us, it is the ultimate test of preparation. There are two layers of prep in collegiate sports, think of them as a birthday cake.

The first and thickest layer is the actual cake itself. It is fluffy but sturdy and without it, any kind of celebration would simply not exist. The cake consists of conditioning, memorizing offenses and defenses, and perfecting your individual strength and durability to withstand the longevity that is a college basketball season.

The second layer, the icing, contains game prep. Layer one should have hopefully already been tended to by now. Don't worry, suicides, weekly lifts and film sessions are all great reminders. Thankfully, it is finally time for layer two. To me, this is the best part. I've always been an icing kind of gal.

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Game prep is different for every school and for every sport, but here's a little insight to how we like to do it at the Dub (short for the UW, if any of y'all were a little confused). We normally start prepping 2-3 days before game day. First, we watch video in the film room (don't forget to bring a pen y'all).

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Normally it's about a five-minute video, highlighting the five starters and any other significant player's from the opposing team. We look for player tendencies, favorite moves, team offense and defense, and try to get an overall feel for what type of team were dealing with. Next, we take it to the court.

At the beginning of practice, we walk through the opposing team's offense and defense, and most importantly what we plan on doing to disrupt them. Here's where the funky-looking zones, the trick plays and the secret hand signals come in. War calls are play calls, and defenses are changed faster than Nicole Bauman's pull up jumper (if you haven't seen it, just know it's pretty dang quick).

The scout is a plan of attack, and we really do need to know it like the back of our hand. Some wins are pure luck or catching a team on a bad shooting night, but most of them are meticulously planned and more importantly, perfectly executed. The idea is to expose the opponent's weaknesses while at the same time highlighting your own strengths. So if you ever notice a player repeatedly doing something really strange on the court, it's probably part of the plan or they're just really awkward, which is still a viable and probable option. So much of a team's success is rooted in preparation and we cut no corners. I could still tell y'all player tendencies, favorite moves, birthdays and family member's names from scouts during my freshman year. Just kidding, not the whole family!

Just to be safe, we tend to have an hour-long shoot around in the morning of game day to make sure everyone is on the same page. It's like the review session before the exam and it always ends with a half-court shot competition.

Remember Nicole's half court 3-pointer that forced overtime, made ESPN SportsCenter's Top 10 and led to our win against Green Bay last year? Yeah, we practiced that too!

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After shoot around, we head to pre-game meal! Nothing puts a smile on this team's face like game day and free food. Actually the food doesn't even have to be free. It's pretty much just food in general. What can I say, we like to eat y'all!

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Before you know it, it's time to lace up our favorite pair of shoes and pull on our Badger jerseys. By the time any of y'all see us run out from the tunnel, our pony tails will be tight, our headbands will match and our jerseys will be tucked.

But don't be fooled friends. We have spent hours learning, dissecting and perfecting before the first ball is dribbled on game day. College athletics has already and will continue to teach me so many lessons than I ever thought I needed to know, but this week I am reminded of the importance of preparation. Nothing in this life or this game, will be given to us, and in order to take it, we must know how to take it. Come watch us take what we have earned on Thursday against Vanderbilt at the Kohl Center! Tipoff is at 4 p.m.

On Wisconsin!

-Shann

 

Badger Blog: Respect

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In this week's Badger Blog, head coach Yvette Healy talks about respect.

I love the T-shirts I saw all over Yankee Stadium the night of his last game. Re2pect. What a cool word and logo. Yes I love things with your number on them. But more than the number, I love the word and what it means. 

Respect is such a powerful compliment. There's this deep understanding of the person, their plight and what they're all about when you use the word respect. You really have to know and value the individual and their journey, their obstacles, the adversity they deal with and their perseverance to use the word respect. 

There are so many people in my life that I respect. The ones that stand out are usually the trailblazers. The ones doing things that have never been done, like my mom, being the first in her family to go beyond grade-school education, advancing to earn her high school, college and master's degrees when no one else around her was doing that. 

I respect my Athletic Director at DePaul, Jean Lenti.  Before being named AD, she was a life-long senior women's administrator who loved her athletes, was humble, gracious, smart and firm. She wasn't afraid to care for you, connect with you and hold you accountable all while giving you a hug. My boss now, Terry Gawlik, is one of the most successful female administrators in our conference, and on the national scene. There aren't many women at her level in athletics, and she somehow manages to be smart, kind, proactive and fashionable. She leads by empowering, not micromanaging, and that I respect. 

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So when I think about our Wisconsin Softball team this season, the word respect has come to mind. Who do you respect and why? What is important to you, who are your role models? Who lives their life, both personally and professionally, that inspires you? I saw Jill, our team physical therapist, finding time to coach and mentor young girls in our community through Girls on the Run. Her passion for athletics isn't just a job. She wants to help our athletes succeed. Seeing our team volunteer, after watching them train and lift, run and practice, fills us with pride. 

I really don't know how strong we'll be this year, when I look at what we've lost and how we look on paper. I do know, that this group is special. We're filled with more selfless leaders like Megan Tancill, and fearless competitions like Ashley Van Zealand, and kids who are willing to put their heart into competing each and every day like Chloe Miller. I have respect for Taylor Paige Stewart working to get into med school while perfecting her curve and rise ball. Because this is a special group this will be a special year. This team is filled with trailblazers, if you just look around you, but the respect has to start with you. 

Hopefully you reach out to someone in the next few days, and tell them how they've inspired you. Share how their actions and accomplishments are significant.  When you see people overcome adversity, and achieve great things while being a great person, let them know. Be a storyteller.  

Finally, think about yourself. Do you respect who you are right now? How do you treat yourself? How do you train, what do you eat, how do you sleep? How do you let others treat you? You get one body in this world, you need it to run, lift, compete, play sports, train, learn, and maybe someday have kids and chase them around. That's pretty profound. Respect.

ON WISCONSIN