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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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
In this week's Badger Blog, head coach Yvette Healy talks about the upcoming season.
been a special four years for the Wisconsin Softball program, going from a 177
RPI team, to back-to-back seasons, finishing ranked
in the Top 25, and advancing to the NCAA Regional Championship game. Yet we are still far from becoming a legacy
Our greatest challenge will be overcoming the loss of 5 starters
from 2013, and four more, All-Region athletes in 2014. When you graduate that much success, and
experience, new talent must emerge within your program and from your incoming
freshmen. We will need new leaders to
step in and take starring roles in our program.
With so much youth and inexperience, we'll need a tremendous amount of
leadership, patience, discipline and hard-work.
Yet character and team-work really can overcome a majority of our
The greatest asset that Wisconsin Softball 2015 holds, is our
character. This team is filled with
truly inspirational young women who care about their teammates, and are driven
to achieve. It will take a tremendous amount of buy-in, selflessness, and
maturity to weather the storm. Are you
prepared to face the challenges of this leap year? This is the point in history where most teams
on our path experience a great slide. It
is at this point of perceived prosperity, when the times are actually toughest. Just as experience and success are
graduating, most programs are lulled into contentment and laziness. When we think we're more than we are, we fail
to truly see our team and ourselves for who we are, and frustration sets
in. With frustration comes a lack of
motivation, turmoil, and dissension.
This is a critical year in the growth of Wisconsin softball. Climbs and improvements are never linear. As we work to become a legacy, championship
program, there will always be two steps forward, and one step back. The question is, how big are the steps
forward, and how small can we make the steps back? As we grow, and climb and achieve, there will
always be minor regressions along the.
When winning outpaces recruiting, your team is bottom heavy with
inexperience, and trouble naturally arises.
The good news is, our staff truly believes we can jump this
learning curve and survive and even thrive this trap year, through
character. If this group can be the most
collaborative, hard-working, selfless, and purpose-driven team in the history
of Wisconsin Softball, we just might thrive.
It's the "Why and the what" that will count this season. Why do you play, what are you playing for,
why Wisconsin, what are you fighting for, what drives you, why now?
We are excited to enter this journey with
you. This will be your greatest test of
character as student-athletes. Your
mental toughness, confidence and composure will be challenged every day. If you focus on caring for each other,
playing for each other, being great teammates, doing things the right way,
being purpose-driven athletes, you may surprise every team in the country, and
become one of the most memorable teams in Wisconsin Softball history.
this week's Badger Blog, head coach Yvette Healy discusses the Badgers tough schedule and their first home series of the 2014 season.
It's opening weekend in Madison! It's exciting to be home in
Wisconsin, after playing on the road six of the last seven weekends. We've been to Texas, California, Tampa,
Miami, Louisville, and Chicago. We're
15-12 right now, with big ranked wins over #8 Arizona and #23 Northwestern.
This season has been filled with adversity,
facing the toughest schedule in school history.
We've played #4 Florida twice, #17 Texas A&M twice, #5 Washington, #11
Arizona State, #8 Arizona, and #23 Northwestern three times. We still have eight
ranked games ahead against #6 Michigan, #15 Minnesota, and #19 Nebraska. At least two of our games against ranked
opponents will be at home, when we host #19 Nebraska here on April 30th.
We'll face off against a tough Iowa team this weekend, as we
get into the heart of Big Ten play. Being
from the Midwest, it's easy to appreciate how special Big Ten softball is. What an amazing conference; great academics,
great facilities and exciting rivalries.
It's an honor to play legacy programs like Iowa, with their 16 NCAA
tournament appearances, 4 trips to the Women's College World Series, and 31
NCAA tournament wins. Iowa is the type
of successful, legacy softball program that we're working to build here at
Wisconsin. They have so much history when
they step on the field, with 27 All-Americans.
We know playing opponents like this is never easy. Iowa has competed in Madison 8 times, and they've
only lost one series. The Hawkeyes are 12-3 all-time here at
Wisconsin, which is an 80 percent win percentage. Our goal is to start evening those numbers
out. We're working to make strides, to
improve and to grow. One game at a time,
we're making progress, we're changing history, and we're building success. It's a tough task to change history, but this
senior class is certainly up for the challenge.
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.
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
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.
In this week's Badger Blog, head coach Yvette Healy previews Wisconsin's first games of the season, as it travels to the Sunshine State to participate in the USF-Wilson Demarini Tournament.
This weekend will certainly be a challenge. In fact, the
entire spring will test our will. We'll be put under pressure day-in and
day-out. There's no relief in this schedule. There are no gimmie games, or easy
wins. Would you really want it any other way?
Galvanize. That's our word of the day. Sometimes it takes
great pressure for things to truly come together. The more you face adversity,
and survive, the more prepared and protected you'll be in the future. It's like
battling the flu early in life, you're simply growing stronger, building your
immune system, preparing your body to be healthier, stronger and more resilient
the next time you're exposed. Sometimes
you need a shock, jolt, or near miss to really get sparked into living.
Malcom Gladwell talks about this empowerment in "David and
Goliath". He looks at the Luftwaffe Nazi bombings on London. The people of
London actually grew stronger every time there was a near miss. Each bomb that
dropped, that they survived, made them feel more resilient and invincible.
Courage and resolve rose all over the country, because of the adversity they
faced and overcame, head on.
So let's embrace the challenge of playing three games
against top 25 teams this weekend. Sure Florida won 58 games last year, and
made it to the World Series. South Florida has 11 NCAA appearances, an
All-American pitcher who got them to the World Series, and wins more than 80
percent of their games at home. It's more fun being the underdog. Maybe we've
been indoors for every practice this winter, maybe we haven't seen the sun
shine yet, it only makes the opportunity more exciting.
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.
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!
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