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Hey Badger Fans!
I hope that you've all have had a great week but am I right in saying that thank goodness it's Friday! This past weekend we were quite busy; on Saturday we hosted Badgerville before the football game which was a ton of fun. We were able to meet a lot of you and hopefully you enjoyed seeing us as much as we enjoyed seeing you!
On Sunday, the Ironman race took over Madison. For those of you who don't know, the Ironman is a triathlon, combining a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike race, and a 26 mile run to the finish. In past years our entire coaching staff (Coach Johnson, Friesen, and Koch) have all claimed the Ironman title and this year our Director of Hockey Operations, Paul Hickman (who's completed the Ironman far too many times to count), and our former Badger teammate, Madison Packer, were the ones up to the challenge. Now I'm obviously no Ironman, and in fact, they had finished their swim and most of their bike ride before I'd even eaten lunch, so I asked Madison to tell me about her overall experience this weekend:
"I woke up at 5 a.m. with my mom, got all of my stuff together and headed over to the bike and changing area just to do one last check, making sure that I had everything," Packer said. "I pumped up my tires on my bike and then I put my wet suit on and headed down with my mom to meet Paul and some friends and family at the lake. That was kind of when it all really set in because you're standing there with thousands of other people waiting to get in the water and it was a little nerve racking. Once I got in my mom and I wished each other luck and we actually swam about the first 50 yards with each other before we got separated. The swim was tough but I calmed down after about ten minutes and just started focused on finishing and getting out of the water."
"After the swim you have to run up a helix by the water and rush to get changed into your bike stuff which was pretty hectic. I got out there and was lucky because I kind of knew what to expect going out on the course because I had ridden it a few times. The bike course is really tough with lots of hills so that was a mental battle, but there was a ton of crowd support and having teammates out there was a motivator. The worst part for me and what I dreaded most was the run, but I just took it one step at a time, literally. At that point your body is kind of in shock, it's like okay is this really happening!? But I saw my teammates everywhere and people ran along side me so that was a huge help.
"For me it was a big accomplishment to cross the finish line, especially since my teammates were there supporting me throughout the day and then they were there to see me finish. It was also pretty special because it was something I trained with Paul and my mom for all summer and so to be able to hug my mom when I got across the finish line it was incredible. I actually got a little emotional just because the whole race was far more of a mental challenge than a physical challenge for me, and so to keep going and then finally get across the line when I thought a number of times during the day that there was no way that I could make it was pretty cool. They also had some really good snacks on the run course so that was just a bonus!"
Most of us were around during the day keeping track of Paul and Madison and going to cheer them on at different points of the race but of course we were all anticipating watching them cross the finish line and Sydney McKibbon definitely summed up how the team was feeling.
"To see Madison finish the Ironman and cross the finish line was amazing," McKibbon said. "She had a huge smile on her face and we were there to cheer her on throughout the race and at the finish line. It was nice to see that all of her hard work and the training that she put in finally paid off. Being at the Ironman was an indescribable feeling and it really puts into perspective how hard you can push yourself and the true limits of your body. I think Madison really pushed herself these last 5 months and she really did an outstanding job!"
We are all incredibly proud of Madison and Paul for their amazing accomplishments and you know here at Wisconsin we take #NoDaysOff so of course they were both back at the LaBahn on Monday morning to see us!
Have a fantastic weekend everyone!
Hey everyone! I'm Sarah Nurse and I'm very excited to be taking over the blog for Madison Packer this year!
A few quick things about me: I'm a sophomore from Canada, a mashed potatoes fanatic and I just happen to be Beyonce's biggest fan.
I spent my first summer in Madison with a majority of my teammates as we all took summer classes. Despite having to take classes, we were able to find ways to let loose and have a ton of fun. For my first Fourth of July in the U.S., a handful of us made the trip up to Madison Packer's cottage to celebrate Independence Day where we spent the weekend on the lake waterskiing, paddle boarding and tubing. A few weeks later, a group travelled to Eau Claire for a massive country concert that had an incredible lineup of some of our team's favorite artists. Overall, it was great to spend eight weeks with a lot of my fellow Badgers and we all are looking forward to the upcoming season.
The past few weeks I spent time with the Canadian U-22 team in Calgary, as we had a team camp for two weeks and then we played the U.S. U-22 team in a three-game series. It was cool to play in the series with fellow Badgers Blayre Turnbull, Mellissa Channell, Emily Clark, Ann-Renee Desbiens, Annie Pankowski and Alex Rigsby.
Until next time!
Hey Badger fans,
Lauren Carlini here. I'm going to be doing a weekly update about how things are going out here as I'm training with the U.S. Women's National Team in Anaheim, California.
After opening its spring season with drills at Marquette, the Wisconsin volleyball team continued competition Sunday afternoon, hosting Minnesota in the UW Field House. What was initially planned to be a full match was cut down to a three-set scrimmage due to opponent injuries. Despite the event's brevity, the crowd of more than 500 people was given a good taste of what to expect from the NCAA runner-up Badgers in the 2014-15 season.
The match featured a mix of familiar and new, as redshirt freshman Taylor Fricano and freshman Tori Blake both saw ample playing time. Sophomore Taylor Morey looked a natural in her role as libero, taking over for senior Annemarie Hickey, who coached from the sideline and assisted in drills before the match.
Blake, who saw action in just 22 sets last fall, switched off with junior Dominique Thompson and fellow freshman Haleigh Nelson at middle blocker. During the team's four-month break, Blake seems to have gained more control as a hitter, and fans can expect to see more of her in the upcoming season as she gains experience working with 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Lauren Carlini.
Time plays an integral role in the relationship between a setter and middle, allowing for their chemistry to build both on and off the court. This was apparent in the progression of Nelson through her first season, as she improved from one kill in her first match in the Cardinal and White to averaging 1.74 kills per set on a .318 attack percentage for her rookie season. In the same way, look for Blake and Carlini's on-the-court communication to progress as the pair works together throughout the spring and offseason.
Another new face on the court was Fricano, the 6-4 right side/outside hitter, who saw playing time after taking a redshirt during the 2013 season. Along with junior Ellen Chapman, Fricano stands as the team's tallest player. The two will complement one another nicely at the net with Chapman on the outside and Fricano on the right. The Badgers finished just seventh in the Big Ten with 2.33 blocks per set last season, and height may be a new defensive weapon for the team in the upcoming season.
One very familiar aspect of the scrimmage was the Badgers' signature aggressive serving. Head Coach Kelly Sheffield, 2013 Volleyball Magazine National Coach of the Year, has emphasized in the past that players have "been given the green light to be very aggressive" at the service line. This trend continued into spring competition, as UW garnered aces from multiple players including Chapman, who led the team in aces per set (0.23) in 2013. The crowd also saw a new face at the line as Nelson served for the first time on her birthday. Whether this was a birthday gift from Coach Sheffield or the start of a new trend for the 6-3 middle blocker is yet to be determined. Morey also made a serving transition, moving from a long float serve to a jump serve during the scrimmage.
Wisconsin will continue spring competition on Wednesday, April 16 as it hosts Marquette for a full match. Competition will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the UW Field House. Admission is free to all with several members of the team available afterwards for a Q&A.