After being sidelined by a foot injury on July 4, 2008, junior athid=6133&deptid=122"> --> Jon Rzepka had no other choice than to trade his time on the turf for time on the sidelines.
But, in Friday nights 110-minute, sportid=122&storyid=18906"> --> scoreless battle against Virginia Tech, the University of Wisconsin junior was finally granted the opportunity to apply all of the things that he learned while watching from the side.
Rzpeka logged 32 minutes and contributed one of the Badgers 21 total shots in his first game since playing against Penn State on Oct. 20, 2007.
I was super anxious today to finally play a real competitive game in the fall, Rzepka said. I was playing on a summer team and I feel great now, my foot doesnt bother me.
Its good to be back on the field. I hadnt played a full game in a while.
Rzepka had started twice and created a solid position for himself on the UW team during his sophomore season, so the injury didnt come at an ideal time in the progression of Rzepkas career.
Instead of training and playing alongside his teammates, Rzepka spent the 2008 season rehabbing his injury in order to ensure his position back on the field for the 2009 season. While spending time observing his fellow Badgers and nursing his foot, he was able to study his position and see things from a different perspective.
He credits his time off the field as a chance to understand his position better and from a different angle.
I realized that we just tend to kick it long a lot, Rzepka explained. As the center mid I always try to get at the ball as much as I can. A lot of times, we just play it long and it skips the center mids.
I think the center mids, in general, need to get the ball more so that we can move it side-to-side. We just need to try and score, too.
After contributing some solid minutes during his first game back on the field, Rzepka hopes to keep working hard and gain more playing time.
I would like to become a regular starter again, he said. I just want to get back into game shape and be a big impact player.
Personally, I just want the other team fear me when I get the ball.
While Rzepka hopes for a healthy season individually, he is excited to see what the Badgers can accomplish as a team this season.
I feel like we can do big things this year with the experience we have, he said. We just all enjoy each other because we have been around each other for so long. We know how each other plays and we know how to work with each other.