Nov. 3, 2010
Dalton's Press Conference | Dalton's Big Ten PSA
MADISON, Wis. -- Michele Dalton was almost too preoccupied to notice. And that was understandable given all the things that were running through the mind of the UW women's soccer team's starting goalkeeper.
Not the least of which was Monday night's final regular season game against Northwestern.
Here's the play-by-play in her words.
"I'm at a gas station and as I'm walking out the door," Dalton said, "I'm on the phone talking to my mom, and I walked right past the person, who was sitting by the door.
"I saw her. She was in shorts and it was freezing out there (Monday morning). You could tell that she was in need ... and it was sort of a reality check for me."
Dalton was on her way to a press conference at Camp Randall Stadium.
"I have this great opportunity as a student-athlete at a great school," she said "and just to see people in need like that ... it really shook me up a little bit and reminded me why I do this food drive."
Dalton was the last speaker at Monday's presser, following UW football coach Bret Bielema, men's basketball coach Bo Ryan, women's basketball coach Lisa Stone, women's soccer coach Paula Wilkins, and men's soccer coach John Trask.
Most of the room had emptied by the time Dalton stepped up to the podium to deliver her message about the Red and White Hunger Fight.
Afterward, she admitted that she was nervous to be speaking in front of people, though she communicated what she wanted to say in a very professional and poised manner.
This is someone who did not give up a goal in eight straight games between mid-September and mid-October and was named the Big Ten's co-defensive player of the week three straight weeks.
This is someone who had played in 15 of the UW's 17 games and was leading the Big Ten in goals-against-average, save percentage and shutouts.
"I'm a little more comfortable on the field than I am in front of the cameras," confessed Dalton, a redshirt junior from Mount Prospect, Ill., a Chicago suburb.
Dalton attended John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, and that's where she was first exposed to the benefits of community service, and the commitment that is needed.
Service over Self.
That was the class.
"We were assigned various community service projects," Dalton explained. "I actually didn't want to do the food drive because I knew it was going to be a big undertaking, a big project.
"You get to list certain events in the order that you wanted to do them. And the food drive was my number four or number five choice. But it was assigned to me anyway."
So she made the best of it, and she's glad that she did.
"It just sort of grew on me," she said.
It turned out to be such a redeeming project and successful endeavor that when she got to Madison and enrolled at the UW, she wondered why something like it wasn't already in place.
"People pretty much called me crazy for wanting to do it - a food drive - involving the entire Madison community," said Dalton, who began making contacts as a freshman (2007) and got the project off the ground as a sophomore. There were plenty of speed bumps.
But she was driven. As a result, this will mark the third year for the Red and White Hunger Fight, which has collected over 6.5 tons of food and involved 70-plus campus organizations.
"That was probably the least challenging part," Dalton said of getting everybody on the same page, or pulling in the same direction, whichever cliché you'd like to use. "I think everybody wants to get involved. They just sort of need someone to oversee it and coordinate it all."
Thanksgiving meals will be provided to over 500 families in the Madison area through the Community Action Coalition. Also combining forces are the Morgridge Center for Public Service, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and WISPIRG Hunger and Homelessness Campaign.
The Homecoming food drive began on Oct. 1.
Athletes from the 21 participating UW teams will be going through various Madison neighborhoods this weekend and leaving grocery bags on front porches for food donations.
How does Dalton fit everything into her own schedule?
"If you're passionate about something, you'll find the time to do it," she said. "We've been traveling a lot this year, and it has been challenging, no question about it. But I really enjoy doing it.
"Truthfully, I almost feel like I'd be bored if I didn't have it as a part of my life. The past few years have helped build a solid foundation. And each year, it becomes a little easier."
For the record, Dalton, who will turn 22 on Friday, improved hers to 10-3-3 with yet another shutout Monday night as the Badgers blanked the Wildcats, 3-0, at the McClimon Soccer Complex.