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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Emotional ending for Gillette

[media-credit name=’DEREK MONTGOMERY/Herald photo’ align=’alignright’ width=’336′]GILLETTE_DM_416[/media-credit]You’ll have to pardon Wisconsin softball head coach Karen Gallagher for getting emotional when she speaks of senior catcher Boo Gillette. You see, when the subject of the Badgers’ emotional leader for the past four seasons and her impending departure due to graduation comes up, it’s hard not to get a little misty.

“She’s great. She has been an emotional leader, a vocal leader; she is passionate about the game, and it means a lot to her to be out on this field. She sets the tone for a lot of things,” Gallagher said, before taking a deep breath and a long pause, saying matter-of-factly, “It’s tough to see her go.”

It will be tough for everybody but Big Ten opponents to see the five-foot-five sparkplug from South Florida move on after this season: tough for the coaches, like Gallagher, and tough for the players, like her successor behind the plate, freshman Joey Daniels.

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“She has given me pointers on everything. From catching to being a freshman at school, it’s great to have the chance to learn from her,” Daniels said.

It will even be tough for the fans, as Gillette has unquestionably enjoyed the largest fan following on the softball team and has been the fan favorite of the team since Andrea Kirchberg graduated in 2003.

All of that is to be expected, however, because it is never easy when you lose a leader, and that is, in the simplest terms, what Gillette has been for the Badgers since arriving on campus in 2002, a leader.

Her freshman season she started every game, most of them behind the plate. Gillette responded, quickly becoming the most vocal player on the team and backing up her talk on the field, being named the team’s Defensive Player of the Year.

By her freshman season, Gillette was already team captain.

“When I was a freshman, I didn’t care, I was going to be vocal, and that was a big part of me getting into the line-up,” Gillette said.

With her trademark Badger pride and endless encouragement, Gillette instantly became the commanding voice of the team, despite being one of its youngest players.

“Coming here as a freshman, I had huge eyes and everything was so new, so big and college-level ball. Now I’m like the grandmother on the team,” Gillette said.

Don’t let a Defensive Player of the Year award and the reputation for being a strong leader fool you into thinking that Gillette is a glorified role player, ala Jason Varitek. On the contrary, it is with bat in hand that Gillette is most at home.

“I want to be up when bases are loaded and there are two outs; I love hitting people in. It’s the best part of the game,” Gillette said.

Gillette has evolved into one of the best offensive catchers in the country, hitting .365 with 10 home runs and 30 RBI, threatening to break her own single season RBI record of 34. She will leave Wisconsin with her name in the top-five career statistical leaders in virtually every category, including being the school’s all-time home run king (or queen, as it were) with 15 and counting, yet another feat for Gillette to take pride in.

“When you go out there you aren’t thinking that I want to get this record, or something. Personal awards don’t mean anything if your team doesn’t win, but it is nice to know that when I look back in the media guide, or my kids do, they will be like ‘Wow, that’s my Mom right there’,” Gillette said.

For all of her on-the-field accomplishments, it will be the Gillette on the practice field and in the dugout that will be most missed by Gallagher and the team.

“She has done great things for us. I think that we will just miss her presence and her jokes and her funniness and all the quirky goofy things that she does too, to keep everybody loose,” Gallagher said.

“I’m very social to begin with, and I think sometimes that’s important to be having a little fun out there or not taking things stuff so seriously, because things are going to go wrong in this game, and you can’t get down,” said Gillette, who is a constant source of laughs and giggles during practices, “I just know that I’m a senior this year and that, other than the core group of seniors, this team is very young. They need that kind of leadership.”

Typical of Gillette, when asked to sum up how her four years in Wisconsin have been she blurted out, ‘Cold!’ Her pride at being a Badger is no laughing matter however, and her senior season has caused her to realize that the ride is almost over.

“I think that every time you play a team or travel to different places, you realize it is the last time you are going to do it, and this is the end of your career, and you want people to remember you well and believe you are a tough Badger,” Gillette said, with a smile and a laugh. “It’s an experience I wouldn’t trade in for anything. I’ve learned a lot about ball and about the different way of life.”

You see, it’s impossible even for Boo Gillette to not get emotional when speaking about her leaving, the difference is, she’s going out with a laugh and a smile, just the way she came in.

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