There’s a lot to do in Madison on a budget, especially on the University of Wisconsin campus. You can get Babcock ice cream, explore the art museum or go relax at either of the lakefronts. Another option for those of you who love sports is to purchase a Student Red Card.
The Red Card (not to be confused with the Red Card Meal Plan) costs just $25 and grants students unlimited access to varsity sports, including women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s softball and men’s wrestling, among many others. Also included is women’s volleyball, who made it to the NCAA Elite Eight last season, and women’s hockey, who won the NCAA Division I National Championship.
While men’s football, basketball and hockey are all amazing atmospheres on their own, tickets can be extremely costly and are usually hard to come by unless you were one of the lucky few who got season tickets in early June. The Red Card is a great deal for students who are fans of sports that don’t get as much attention on campus. They also give you a lot of flexibility when it comes to choosing the competitions you go to see, as there is no commitment to attend individual games.
In all, the Red Card provides access to nearly 80 home dates over the course of the academic year, a great deal considering how much a single ticket for any sport can cost. Wisconsin’s sports programs make the Red Card worthwhile, as they are high-profile in their competitiveness relative to the Big Ten and Division I sports as a whole.
The women’s hockey team, for example, has made the NCAA Tournament’s Frozen Four 11 of the last 13 seasons, including five championship victories. Mark Johnson — the team’s head coach — also played for the U.S. Men’s Olympic Hockey Team and has the second most wins of all time by a women’s college hockey head coach. Last season, the Badgers were able to earn the WCHA Championship after a few years of falling just short. Several former players have also gone on to play for the Women’s Olympic team.
The women’s volleyball team has also seen success in recent years under head coach Kelly Sheffield. This stretch includes six straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including a finish as NCAA Runners-Up in 2013 and an Elite Eight appearance last year. The Badgers are led by Dana Rettke, who has been a First Team All-American competitor in each of her first two years at Wisconsin.
While the women’s basketball team has struggled to achieve the same level of success as the men’s basketball team, they have taken strides towards improved play in recent years under head coach Jonathan Tsipis. This effort culminated in last season’s record of 15-18, including an upset of Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament.
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The men’s soccer team has been successful in recent years with a young roster, and they’ll look to take the next step this season behind leaders Noah Leibold and Noah Melick. The team plays at Dan McClimon Memorial Track/Soccer Complex, which will have a new field entering this season.
Women’s soccer ended last season with a loss in the Round of 16 against No. 1 Stanford in the NCAA Tournament. They will look to move a step further this year with a squad that sees the majority of its starters returning for another season.
The men’s wrestling team, under new head coach Chris Bono, finished seventh in the Big Ten and 21st in the NCAA last season, an impressive showing by a team with a rookie head coach. Bono and the team will hope to improve on last season’s success this year in both the Big Ten and the NCAA as a whole.
Last but not least, softball went 43-14 last season en route to a fifth place finish in the Big Ten and a spot in the NCAA Regional Tournament for the third straight season. Under coach Yvette Healy, the Badgers have attained an impressive .625 winning percentage over the course of nine years.
As you can see, there’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to UW’s sports teams and the Red Card is perhaps the easiest and most affordable way to experience the Badger sports culture as a student. For students who don’t know much about some of the sports at UW, the Red Card also provides the opportunity to learn something new and even become a fan of another sport.