Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - April 25, 2013

Varsity is the free Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics, covering Badgers football, basketball, hockey and more each week.

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Page 17 of 63

BEHIND THE DESK B A R RY A LVA R EZ • UW DIREC TOR OF AT H L ET IC S Holding on to our tradition is crucial L ast Friday night, we had a reception and tour of our facilities for more than 200 former football players and more than 350 people overall. It was very well received. We wanted them to see the new weight room in Camp Randall and the new locker room in the McClain Center. We also showed them Phase 3 and explained what was coming next. A year from now, everything will be finished, including the Fetzer Academic Center, plus the atrium that will be the gateway to the athletic department. We not only wanted them to have the opportunity to go through the tour and get together with old teammates, but we wanted them to meet the new coaching staff. I thought that was very important because it all tied together. We had players from the '40s through our most recent graduates. They represented all the eras from Milt Bruhn ― Milt's son was there ― through John Jardine, Dave McClain and Don Morton. I've been around long enough now that I've met most of these guys at one time or another. It was good seeing a lot of my former guys coming back, too. Tradition is important. I told them one of the reasons we wanted to do this was because they're all part of that tradition and we want them to stay close to the program and know what's going on. In the new locker room, we're 18 » VARSITY APR I L 25, 2013 selling lockers. You can buy your former locker and we'll put a brass plate in there with your name and number and when you played at Wisconsin. We'll then list all the names on a display board outside of the locker room. Before last Saturday's spring game, I went over and spoke to our softball team before their doubleheader against Ohio State. Tradition is important ... we want (former players) to stay close to the program and know what's going on. Our coach, Yvette Healy, asked me if I would say a few words to the team because she felt like it was in a little bit of a lull. After starting fast, they had been on the road for 37 games. First of all, I told them that I was proud of the way they started the season and how well they've played. But this is the time when they have to fight through things and the leaders have to step up. Now that they're back home, they've got to get excited about playing Ohio State ― one of those brand schools in our conference ― and they need to get reinvigorated to finish up the season strong. I can't say enough about the job that Yvette has done with the program. She has so much energy and you can see that this team is coached well. They've really improved from a few years ago. I watched them beat Ohio State in the opener, then I went to our spring game. I liked the fact that Gary Andersen had fun with it. The kids were definitely into it on the sidelines. Two players jumped out at me. The first was Joel Stave. I can't say that he's had a great spring, but I thought he was very sharp. He didn't have his best receiver but he stuck the ball in there. The other player was the freshman cornerback, Sojourn Shelton. He can move his feet, he can close and he can cover. I think he has gained 15 pounds since he has been here. I was just talking with Henry Mason, my former receivers coach, and we agreed that between now and September, he will change his body even more and become a different person. He'll be more comfortable in what he's doing and he'll probably gain another 10 pounds. He's going to have enough substance where he can jump in there and play for us next season. This week, I'll be in Pasadena for the Rose Bowl planning committee and the spring BCS meetings. It's fun to be in the mix with the commissioners, athletic directors and all the bowl people. What comes out of there should be very interesting.

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