Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Wisconsin Women on Top: Highlighting most decorated female athletes in Badger history

Looking back at most notable pioneers in UW’s athletic sphere in celebration of Women’s History Month
Jason Chan

Women’s involvement in athletics at the University of Wisconsin traces back to the late 1800s, but it wasn’t until 1974 that UW recognized them as intercollegiate programs. 

On March 1, 1974, the Athletic Board at UW officially incorporated a 12-sport women’s program at the university. Nearly 50 years later, after more than 500 All-Americans, 95 Big Ten Championships and 9 NCAA National Championships, the women’s athletic programs at UW have proved to be at the apex of the NCAA.

As women worldwide are celebrated as part of Women’s History Month in March, it is time to also spotlight some of the greatest and most influential women athletes in Wisconsin Badgers’ history.


Hilary Knight

Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey is among the most decorated programs in NCAA history. The decorated program has won 10 Big Ten titles and a joint record seven national championships. 

Former Badger Hilary Knight will go down as an all-time women’s hockey great, not only in Madison, but in the entire NCAA. Knight’s 143 goals and 262 points for the Badgers put her atop the all-time list. To go along with her impressive individual numbers, she also has two national championships to her name from 2009 and 2011.

She’s no stranger to silverware on the professional stage either — she’s won 11 medals at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championships, eight of which were gold. Perhaps her biggest accomplishment so far is being a part of the U.S. Olympic gold medal team in 2018 — U.S. women’s hockey’s first Olympic gold medal since 1998.

Women’s Hockey: Badgers dethrone Buckeyes, reign supreme as national champions

Rose Lavelle

Rose Lavelle is one of the greatest soccer players ever to lace up the boots for the Wisconsin Badgers. The midfield maestro dominated the women’s soccer world during her time in Madison from 2013-2016. 

Nearly two months after her final game for the Badgers, Lavelle made history at the National Women’s Soccer League draft. After being drafted by the Boston Breakers, she became the first athlete in UW history to be selected first overall. 

Two years later, in 2019, Lavelle was a crucial player in the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s World Cup-winning campaign in France. She scored three goals in the tournament including one in the final against the Netherlands.

With those spectacular performances, Lavelle earned herself the Bronze Ball as the third-best player in the tournament. Later that year, she was named in the 2019 FIFA FIFPro World XI as one of the best players in the world and the best in her position. 

Like Lavelle, there are many other unforgettable soccer players who once played in Madison. Victoria Pickett, Jordyn Bloomer and Natalie Viggiano belong in that category as well. 

Women’s Basketball: Badgers finish rebuilding year, look to expand success in 2023-2024

Karen Lunda

If it wasn’t for Karen Lunda, the players above may have never seen the pitch. Lunda was first a member of the field hockey team at UW and put up admirable numbers in her three years on the team. 

But, the field hockey team folded in the early ’80s and was replaced by soccer. Lunda had played soccer in high school and decided to give it a shot at UW. In the inaugural women’s soccer season, Lunda scored 22 goals and had 18 assists for 62 total points. 

She became the first UW soccer player, men’s or women’s, to be selected as an All-American. More than 40 years later, no women’s soccer player has scored or assisted more in a single season than Lunda did in the inaugural season in 1981.

Dana Rettke

Wisconsin’s volleyball program has dominated the national stage recently, and it was Dana Rettke who played a huge part in the Badgers’ first volleyball national championship in 2021.

Rettke had nothing short of a pantheon volleyball career during her time with the Badgers. She was selected as a First-Team All-American from 2017-2020. She became the first four-time All-American in program history and the sixth ever.

Rettke leads UW in hitting percentage and blocks, whilst being second in kills and matches played. She is truly a Badger at heart, and she will always be known as a player who would do anything to win for her teammates and for the people of Madison. Her chapter in Madison will never be forgotten.

Sherisa Livingston

Another steppingstone in UW sports history is former volleyball powerhouse Sherisa Livingston. Livingston is considered by many to have put Wisconsin volleyball on the map. She has made her way around the world playing professionally in Puerto Rico, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy. 

After her professional career, Livingston would begin her own volleyball camp at Radford University as well as serve as the head coach for the team. On top of her record-setting number of kills and her multiple playing awards throughout her career, the off-court work Livingston has done has certainly made her a role model for volleyball youth throughout the country.

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