About three years ago, I took a flight from Madison to Detroit, as most of us do here to get to a hub for other destinations. As I sat in the airport waiting to board the plane, I noticed an increasing number of young women gathering around. I soon discovered the UW-Madison women’s hockey team was on the same flight. They were headed down to Florida for an invitational tournament.
While I was not seated next to a player, I was fortunate enough to sit next to another team member, a UW student who was some type of equipment manager. The flight was short but we had a nice discussion, and she invited me and my family to say hello if we came to an upcoming game.
Our family typically gets to a women’s volleyball, basketball, or hockey game during a season, sometimes all three if we’re lucky. It’s easy to get nice seats, it’s affordable, and both the smaller crowd and band are intimate yet still rowdy. So we ultimately did get to a women’s hockey game that year, and sure enough, the equipment manager remembered me. She welcomed our family to the game and gave each of our children a game puck. I still have one of the pucks on my desk. On it my daughter wrote the date and score: 1/17/09, WI-7, ND-2.
That kind of score if normal for the women hockey Badgers. They have been a phenomenal team, and I’ve always believed they don’t get enough credit. With that in mind, here are some impressive statistics you should know about the team.
- Currently ranked #1 in the country, as they have been in many past seasons.
- Their record as of December 10th is 19-1-0.
- Their coach, Mark Johnson, has led the team in 2002-03, 2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2010-11, and 2011-12. The reason he didn’t coach in 2009-10? He took a one-year sabbatical to coach the 2010 US Women’s Olympic team.
- 3 NCAA Frozen Four Championships: 2006, 2007, 2009
- 3 WHCA Championships: 2006, 2007, 2009
- All-time series record is 290-88-34.
- Highest winning % was in 2006-07 at an unbelievable .927 (36-1-4).
- To honor its 10th season of women’s hockey in 2008-09, the WHCA announced the top 10 players from its first decade. The list included three Badgers: Sara Bauer, Molly Engstrom, and Jesse Vetter.
Oddly enough, when I came back from that trip three years ago, the team was also on my flight back from Detroit to Madison. I didn’t get to sit by any team members this time, but I observed the same behavior as on the other flight. It was simply a pleasant group of young athletes laughing, joking around, and enjoying each other’s company. No one would know they were a powerhouse in their sport.
With this impressive history and culture around the UW women’s hockey team, I encourage you to plan an outing to see a game in the coming months, whether you live here or are coming for a visit. The season picks up again at the Kohl Center on January 20th. I suggest you make a day or evening of it: see the game, and as affordable as the tickets are, also go out for dinner before or after. Athletic events are a fun excursion, and these women deserve our respect and support as the reigning champions of their sport.