Unlike the rest of the Big Ten Universities (which are, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, modest little schools, with much to be modest about), the UW produces fiercely proud alumni. We asked our Badger Insider readers to tell us what makes them proud to be Badgers, and your overwhelming response leaves us near to bursting. Here are more of your stories we just couldn't fit on the pages of the magazine. Share your own stories in the comments section below!
Badgerness is the optimism and fortitude to lead others past their perceived limitations in order to achieve great things, while being grounded enough to take time for an occasional casual afternoon of watching football with friends.
—Loren Dietz ’97
To have graduated from one of the most prestigious universities in the country is my number one reason for Badger pride. I will never forget the feeling of walking up to accept that hard-earned diploma in the Spring of 1969. This is closely followed by people: the close friendships that were made, casual acquaintances that passed through my life on campus, and the wonderful professors and TAs that challenged me at every turn. Being together with people who share the UW experience enhances Badger pride. The memories of campus life represent some of the best times in my life and laid the groundwork for my deep feelings for anything “Bucky”. I think of Camp Randall football Saturdays, the crowds slowly moving toward the stadium, the wonderful UW Marching Band, loud voices singing “If You Want to Be a Badger" and “On, Wisconsin,” and the emotion experienced at the singing and waving of hands to “Varsity”. There is Bascom Hill with Abe at the top, the “Old Red Gym,” the halls and rooms of the old Science Building and the “new” Van Hise building, the sounds of the Carrillon bells, the stacks in the library where I studied hours and hours for finals, Geribaldi Sandwiches at Paisons, beer at “The Pub”, life at Chadbourne Hall, Bob Hope entertaining at the fieldhouse one homecoming, the excitement along Langdon Street, the fun of being included in activities with the Scandinavian Studies Department, the Rathskeller’s unending cups of coffee and the warmth of the Union, walks along the lakeshore, and the list goes on.
Add to this list a myriad of post-grad Wisconsin experiences (football games, Rose Bowl parties, alumni gatherings, sibling grad.uation, etc;) and my pride of being able to say that I am a Badger will live in my heart forever.
—Barb (Forton) Zander ’69
There is no doubt for me the number one tradition is being in Camp Randall Stadium on Game Day surrounded by thousands of fellow Badgers singing "Varsity." It has always been an emotional ride every time I have taken part in this ritual - I'm not afraid to say I get a lump a my throat and even a little misty-eyed. More than anything it is the absolute moment when I feel I'm a Badger.
—Steve Johnson '70
In the 1940s, after football games, and in other venues, singing "Varsity" was a tradition. So was getting tears in my eyes as I sang it, waved my arms back and forth at the end, and loved being at UW.
—Landon Risteen ’50
I get all emotional when standing on the field at Homecoming with the band and singing Varisity. We are band supporters and feel proud every time we see them perform in Pasadena, in parades (Homecoming in particular), at Camp Randal and the Union South and even on the television at the various games, etc.
—Mary Butts ‘58, MA’59
Being a Badger brings back old times ... living in Cardinal House on North Park three doors south of Johnson Street for $5 a week room and grabbing a Danish and coffee for 15 cents at Rennebohms for breakfast and splurging at the Memorial Union for a 50 cent dinner was just great. The line up at Liz Waters was special on Friday and Saturday nights at curfew time ... that was the way of it back in the late 40's and early 50's.
—Oscar Pynnonen '52, MS’61
I have two degrees from Madison and a daughter who also has two. I wear Cardinal and White whenever appropriate (and sometimes when not appropriate, according to my wife). I try and live my pride respectfully. Being a Badger in my life carries a real responsibility to one of the finest academic institutions in the world. "On, Wisconsin" is much more than a fight song.
—Richard L. Peterson '65, MS'70
My pride in having attended UW-Madison derives from several easily said things: the University's superb tradition of serving the State and the world; the excellence of its Letters and Science departments, specifically history and political science; and its world-class reputation for cutting edge research. I can only hope the endowment will swell greatly in future years – that is our weakness.
—Jeffrey A. James '64
I appreciate attending a school with a liberal tradition, one that seeks excellence in all things and not just for those that can make large contributions to the school.
—Thomas Larson ’77
Paterson, New Jersey
I have many fond memories about UW-Madison: a UW-sponsored Lewis & Clark trip, serving as secretary to Dr. Cohen in the Biochem lab, helping a blind student go down Bascom Hill on an icy winter day, the list goes on. I still keep up my membership in the University Club, but at age 85 I can only participate vicariously – or virtually – in university activities.
The singing of varsity during my graduaton and the graduation of each of my three sons was a very special experience.
—Marv Schneider ’67
My proudest Badger moments came when my children graduated from the university. I didn't think I would feel such emotion, but watching them receive their degrees reinforced how important the UW was to me. They are a part of the fifth generation of my family to graduate from Madison, so you can see we love Bucky!
—Connie Pire ’78
When I lived in Elm Drive A, I often took the lake path to and from class (weather permitting). Whenever my husband and I visit the campus, we take the lake path. That walk brings back so many good memories of my four years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
—Suzanne (Arnold) Redenius ’63
What makes us proud to be Badgers? A group of us graduated from the University of Wisconsin between 1982 and 1984. We have gotten together through the years to celebrate being Badgers. We've tailgated together and enjoyed football and hockey games together. We call these gatherings our Badger Bashes, and they have taken place in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. We enjoy getting together to share stories with the next generation and show off our Badger pride. At this last event we talked about how, when we attended Madison, we used to discuss getting together in the future when we would all be married with children. How fun that we actually made that come true!
—Diane Jewell '83
I shared one of Wisconsin's proudest moments in sports with a full house of young U of W rooters at the Northwood's Inn on Division Street in Chicago. When the final seconds ticked off and Wisconsin beat previously unbeaten Ohio State in basketball, the place went wild.
—Jim Cummings ’58
I live in Tampa, but go to all events showing Badgers - or watch on TV - and tell everyone about our CEOs, our Peace Corp volunteers, our stem cell research, our WARF, our leaders, our grads who are world wide achievers ... there is nothing I don't love about my school - now and always!
—Linda Philipps ’66
While there are numerous aspects of Badger pride, from hearing "Varsity" at UW games to walking Bascom Hill on a crisp fall day to simply watching the waves of Mendota from the Terrace (where I met my wife 20+ years ago) ... all of these are based in Madison. Having left school and Wisconsin a while ago, the pride & connection I feel occurs every time I see a "University of Wisconsin" or "Bucky" or "W" bumper sticker somewhere outside of WI. UW alums are a powerful, plentiful global club & the noticing the familiar red and White logos on an occasional car passing by or in a parking lot always brings a smile to my face and a connection to yet another person or family's great memories & Badger pride. Go Big Red.
—Joel Chechik ’87
My wife Jeanne and I met, were married, and had our two sons while she and I worked our way through school (she a B.S. in poly-sci, I in Econ and Law), and both of our sons are graduates of the UW Medical school, so one can understand why we are so proud of our university, and season football and basketball ticket holders. The only home football game we missed in the last two decades was the Ohio State game, and that was because we were on the WAA cruise on Oceania, in the Greek Isles. We missed the 1963 Rose Bowl, as we got married only weeks before at the University Methodist Church, and chose to pay tuition over a road trip to California, thinking that we would go again in 4-5 years, and vowing we would go to all future Rose Bowls that the Badgers were in. Thirty-one years later we began making good on that vow.
The 2011 Rose Bowl was our fourth, and this time we had our three granddaughters with us for the pregame excitement, fully dressed up thanks to Bucky's Locker Room, with Sarah, almost eight, in white leggings with Buckys all over, a red "W" skirt, white "W" turtleneck and red Wisconsin warmup jacket; and the two-and-a-half year-old twins in Cheerleader jumpers, white tights and red and white Adidas warmup suits. We had arranged for parking close to the stadium and arrived just before daylight. When grandma and grandpa took the twins to walk around the "Rose Bowl experience," throngs of students and alums alike surrounded us, wanting to take pictures, with the students wanting to "high five" the little girls.
However, what really made our hearts swell with pride was later during the game itself. We had our son and Sarah, and our seats were near the goal line on the same side, but opposite end, from where the Wisconsin bench, the Band, and Spirit Squad were located. Opposite us, were most of the TCU crowd, who, from where we sat, seemed very loud. No matter where the "wave" started, it ended in either direction when it got to that section. During the third quarter, in a lull in the cheering, Sarah stood up in her seat, and as loud as her 8-year-old voice would allow, started the "Let's go Badgers...clap...clap ...clap clap clap" cheer. After a pause, she repeated the cheer, and then several other fellow Badgers took it up, and it spread like wildfire. In a matter of seconds, about one-fourth of the stadium was cheering. What a thrill was given to a child, her father, and her grandparents by all those fellow Badgers! As the cheer went on, Sarah sat down, leaned over to her father, and asked, "Daddy, how do I start the wave?"
Little wonder that Jeanne and I are so proud of our university that whenever we travel, we wear mostly Badgerwear, which never fails to start lots of conversations, whether we are in the USA or in foreign lands.
—Robert M. Bell ’64, JD’67 and Jeanne L. Bell ‘67
Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin