What’s UW–Madison’s most successful NCAA sport of the 21st century?
This is easy: it’s women’s hockey. The Badger women have won five national championships and appeared in the Frozen Four 12 times, and the program is only 20 years old. All other UW varsity teams combined have only four NCAA championships since 2000. The program’s inaugural coach was Julie Sasner, who had played at Harvard and then on the first U.S. national women’s hockey team. Her initial game didn’t go well. On October 8, 1999, the Badgers were routed by Minnesota–Duluth, 8–1. In 2002, the UW hired former men’s hockey star Mark Johnson ’94, and from there, the team has skated from success to success. Johnson has a record of 494–87–43. His team won its first NCAA championship in 2006; it won its fifth this past March. The Badgers began their title defense — and 21st season — on September 27.