Dan Uttech '01, '06 watched the Badgers score back to back Rose Bowl wins in 1999 and 2000 as a member of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band. Now this journalism teacher headed back to Pasadena as an alumnus and a fan. Follow his journey from Arizona to California as he descended upon Camp Randall West with thousands of his fellow Badgers.
January 2, 2011
My wife and I came out to Pasadena to follow the Badgers, but also because it was the Rose Bowl. The Tournament of the Roses. The Grandaddy of them all. The names just ooze tradition.
And there were several Wisconsin traditions that I was very proud of on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011. In no particular order:
Tradition no. 1: The Rose Bowl. Period.
Tradition no. 2: The fans. Impossible to describe in words, Badger fans highly, highly, HIGHLY outnumbered TCU fans. Walking around Pasadena before the game we would see ten Badger fans and maybe two TCU fans. Turn a corner and there were 20 more UW fans next to four Horned Frogs. At the tailgates before the game it was the same story, a sea of red and speckles of purple. Once inside the Rose Bowl, it painted an even more telling story as over two-thirds of the stadium was Badger red. Traditionally, Wisconsin fans travel well and even more so for the legendary Rose Bowl.
Tradition no. 3: Jump Around. This relatively newer tradition was decidedly not going to be played in order to respect the “neutral playing field.” But if you gazed around the stands, it certainly was not neutral. So at the start of the fourth quarter, music or not, several fans began to jump. Then more fans followed until Camp Randall West was jumping, bouncing and dancing its way into the final frame of the game.
Tradition no. 4: The Fifth Quarter. Win or lose, Badger fans know how to enjoy themselves. As the band played, Wisconsin fans cheered, danced the polka, and stayed. And they stayed longer than anyone in purple. As the TCU team, band and fans all left, the Badger band played on. Hearing “Swing Town,” “Bud,” “On Wisconsin,” and “Varsity” one final time to conclude the football season helped put a smile back on the fans’ faces.
TCU may have won the game, and congrats to them for starting some new traditions of their own. But as for the entire experience, the Badgers remain undefeated.
December 31, 2010
Year End Reflections: Appreciating Moments of Happiness
This Rose Bowl is my first bowl game as an alumnus. It has been very fun and it has also given me a renewed appreciation for being a Badger.
As a member of the University of Wisconsin marching band, it required intense work and a lot of time and effort, but I gained so much. In travels alone, I saw five bowl games, the 2000 Final Four, a volleyball championship match, as well as other regular season and postseason games in various sports. I definitely appreciated those trips then, but my appreciation is growing.
Looking around out here in Southern California, it is wonderful to see so many Badger fans. There are alumni, locals, friends of Wisconsin, families, and bus after bus of tour groups. However, somewhat missing are the students, but they’re not at fault at all for being absent. Yes, it’s really expensive out here! To all the students whose hearts are here in Pasadena, but bodies are back in Madison, we miss you!
I watch the band, the spirit squad and the players: all students, but also a part of the festivities. I understand they appreciate it now, but know their appreciation will grow as the years pass.
My appreciation also grows for my and my wife’s Wisconsin diplomas. Our degrees have led us to jobs and therefore the ability to come out here and pay for the Rose Bowl.
The marching band gave me many travels, lifelong friends and many different lessons in leadership, teamwork and life. One lesson that stands out in relation to appreciation comes from director Mike Leckrone. He said you won’t be happy all the time, but you will have moments of happiness. Cherish those moments.
May your New Year bring many moments of happiness and On Wisconsin!
December 30, 2010
Former Wisconsin athletics director Pat Richter, who helped UW’s sports programs climb out of debt in the 90s, was one of the Badger fans at the Santa Monica Pier Thursday. In addition to Richter, there were about 20,000 other Badger fans that probably helped more than one local business out of debt Thursday night.
Santa Monica pier was a sea of red at the Pacific Ocean for the Party at the Pier, UW’s Rose Bowl pep rally. Badger fans filled one of the pier’s parking lots and overflowed onto the pier itself and on the beach.
One of the best parts of our pier experience was my height. Standing at six-foot-seven, I’m usually peppered with questions like “do you play basketball” and “do you have to duck walking in doors?” But standing in a crowd, I tend to stick out. First, some former band friends found me. Then, some former cheerleaders and a friend from Phoenix joined our group by virtue of spotting my head. Surrounded by thousands of other alumni, we had our own little Badger reunion at the pier!
Badger fans were treated to quite the show of Badger love that included the UW marching band, spirit squad and of course Bucky Badger. It was the 5th Quarter on Sand. UW Chancellor Biddy Martin congratulated the fans and military service members, but couldn’t leave the stage until she did the “Bucky” with band director Mike Leckrone.
Pep rally MC Matt Lepay, the Voice of the Badgers, introduced Gov. Jim Doyle, Barry Alvarez and several Badger Rose Bowl legends enticing the crowd into a large “RON DAYNE” cheer.
A highlight video of the season and “Ask a Badger” segments were displayed on a huge video board and the game opening video announced the arrival of the Badgers. The team took the stage and addressed the crowd with many Badgers raising cameras and phones to capture the moment.
The band sent the team and the fans off with a rendition of “Varsity” as the sun set and fans dispersed prepared to cheer loud and proud at the Rose Bowl.
December 30, 2010
It is a cliched sports intangible, but it works. It makes teams stronger and earns wins. It is also the great intangible in life.
With teamwork, a husband and wife can leave Phoenix at 1:00 a.m. and make it to L.A. in one piece. Yes, we decided to drive through the night, and took turns so we had more time to enjoy in Rose Bowl country.
Without teamwork, a marching band's lines would be crooked, and its notes out of tune. Of course, after watching practice this morning you could replace "teamwork" in that last sentence with "Mike Leckrone," as he barked out rhythms.
Without teamwork, a group of friends can reunite by setting a meeting point instead of using cell phones. Yes, this seems so simple, but sitting on the Santa Monica pier with the ocean breeze in your face it's very easy to take a deep breath, slow down, and enjoy the simple things in life.
And without teamwork, the Badgers definitely would not be in Pasadena. Sorry, you knew that cliche was coming, I gave it to you in the first sentence. But what's great is knowing that teamwork can bring another Rose Bowl championship back to Madison.
December 25, 2010
On our way to the Rose Bowl, we took a slight detour back to Wisconsin for Christmas. (We live in Phoenix, have family in Wisconsin and, of course, are heading back out west for the Rose Bowl.)
In the spirit of Christmas traditions, we took the opportunity to pass on some Badger traditions this year. On Dec. 23, my wife and I decided to bring our nearly three-year-old nephew along with us to the UW men's basketball game versus Coppin State. We hesitated at first, pondering most three-year-olds' behavior, but remembered how good he was at the Packers-Cardinals game back in January when our family visited Arizona. Yes, we are indeed teaching him how to cheer for the correct teams.
At the Badger game, he stood silently during the national anthem, clapped when Wisconsin rained down three-pointers, and danced with the band. Okay, I may have helped him dance during the band tunes, but he wasn't stopping me either.
Then of course, Bucky. He could see Buckingham U. Badger from our seats and we could tell a visit was inevitable. I planned to use my old university connections to set up a photo shoot, but it turned out that we, just regular fans, were treated to Bucky just the same. We encountered Bucky in a corridor at the top of the stairs, took some pictures for some other fans and they returned the favor.
Our nephew didn't last the entire game, but then again, neither did many of the other fans in a 80-56 rout.
We left the Kohl Center proud of our nephew, the Badgers and dreamt of roses to come.
December 23, 2010
The last time I was blogging for the Rose Bowl, the word “blog” was in its infancy. The year was 2000 and I was a senior in the University of Wisconsin Marching Band, majoring in journalism. I wrote articles with a pen and paper and faxed them to the University Communications department to give a Badger’s eye view of the Rose Bowl.
Eleven years later, blogging is hip. I’m teaching about computers and journalism to 7th and 8th grade students in Phoenix and running marathons instead of marching down Colorado Blvd. I’ll be emailing my articles and uploading pictures via my smart phone.
What never changes is Wisconsin pride. We all know it. Students, alumni, and anyone involved in teaching others how to Bucky.
Living in Arizona, my wife and I catch the Badgers on ESPN and thanks to two other advancements in the past 11 years: the Big Ten Network and ESPN3 streaming through my Xbox. We celebrate rivalries with new friends in our city of transplants – friends from Michigan, Pennsylvania and Minnesota. We even own a red car and a white car.
Thanks to our current Western location, we’ll be driving one of those vehicles out to Pasadena at the end of the month. We’re leaving as soon as we return after a Christmas trip to Wisconsin, during which of course, we’ll be catching a men’s basketball game at the Kohl Center.
This time around, I won’t be as “insider” as I was last time as a member of the marching band. I’m just one of the thousands of Badger fans descending upon Pasadena looking to once again covert the Rose Bowl into Camp Randall West.
But I’ll do my best to provide a little imagery for those who can’t make it, but are cheering their hearts out from around the world; because, no matter where you live now, you’re always a Badger.