Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Billboards demonstrate nationwide Wisconsin pride, even in neighboring states

Women’s hockey, women’s basketball earn recognition for program accomplishments
Bennett Waara

The University of Wisconsin women’s hockey and women’s basketball teams got off their bus as they arrived in Minneapolis to compete in their respective Big Ten Tournaments, and they were met with giant billboards wishing them luck in their games.

The billboards took over Minneapolis — featuring slogans for women’s hockey that say “Nobody Does it Better 7x NCAA Champions” and for women’s basketball “Twin Cities Badgers Who’s Next.” As other Big Ten teams were arriving they were seeing these billboards showcase the Badgers and the pride UW has.

“I think it’s great to see the Wisconsin brand reach across the Midwest landscape, especially into Minnesota,” UW sophomore Joey Bonadonna said. “Recruiting from Minnesota has been a big part of the Badgers’ success especially in basketball so seeing that continued growth is great.”


The players were aware there would be billboards but did not know who would be on them so it was a fun surprise when they arrived. There was a lot of excitement all around.

That excitement plays right into the start of the postseason and traveling to the city that is home to the rival University of Minnesota. It is only an added bonus to have your program plastered on billboards in the heart of the city.

“The players were excited to see the billboards and so were alumni,” said Assistant Director of Brand Communications Megan Milliron. “Lots of videos, photos, were taken when the whole team went to see them.”

The billboard’s purposes were to interact with our potential market in Minnesota and show fans UW is relevant, Milliron explained.

Passion and excitement expands throughout all of campus — making the billboards the perfect way to promote UW athletics in the middle of a rival’s territory.

“Wisconsin has some of the most passionate students when it comes to rooting on the Badgers,” Bonadonna said. “I think everyone wants to see the Badgers succeed no matter the stakes.”

Many athletes and students come from the Minneapolis area. For example, three members of the women’s hockey team are from the Land of 10,000 Lakes, including defender Vivian Jungels. The men’s basketball team has been notably active in Minnesota too, as it has been well documented. Both forwards Tyler Wahl and Nolan Winter came from the same high school in the Gopher State. Forward Steven Crowl and guard Jack Janicki both reside in Minnesota but are contributors to UW’s men’s basketball program.

The roots are deep, and athletes and fans got to experience their school pride in their home state.

I think it had to help their confidence tremendously,” Bonadonna said. “Especially for the players from Minnesota, it’s huge to be able to feel that support ahead of the biggest games of the season to that point.”

The women’s hockey team was ready to take the ice against Minnesota for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Championship. They finished their regular season 29-5, losing only two games in their home rink.

They beat the University of St. Thomas at home in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. UW knocked them off in two games — winning 4-2 and 9-1 in a blow out second game.

The game versus Minnesota in the WCHA final faceoff was not an easy task. UW scored early in the first period to put the Badgers up 1-0, but the Gophers responded with double the goals ending the first period 2-1.

Each team scored a powerplay goal in the second quarter with Minnesota still having the edge over UW. But just before the end of the third period forward, Casey O’Brien found the back of the net to send the game into overtime.

UW was able to find the net one more time to beat the Gophers and move on in the tournament. The next day the Badgers defeated Ohio State University 6-3 to be titled the WCHA 2023 Champions.

Women’s hockey has had a consistent postseason under head coach Mark Johnson. They defeated St. Lawrence University in the NCAA Regional game. They continue to practice as they will compete in the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four tournament starting Mar. 22 against Colgate University.

UW women’s basketball did not boast as successful of a postseason run but recently earned an invite to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. They ended their regular season 13-15 and 6-12 in conference play.

They arrived in Minneapolis to play against Penn State University in the second round of the Big Ten tournament — falling to them 80-56.

Sophomore Serah Williams broke the Big Ten record for most consecutive double-doubles with fifteen in a row. She was also named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year — one of the main billboards that took over the city of Minneapolis.

Women’s sports are not always viewed in the same light as men’s sports, but UW has a rich foundation and impressive skills between their women’s hockey and women’s basketball programs.

School pride is a big part of being a Badger — being engaged with what is going on in the sports world and going to games with friends or parents. Alumni in other states love to interact with what is happening with UW’s teams and will still come back to Madison just to watch a game.

“It’s great to see our school has reached into other states,” Bonadonna said. “We’ve seen them reach into Chicago and to reach into Minnesota as well is a big deal. It helps athletics, brand recognition and the school overall.”

The athletic department has helped uplift this school spirit. The billboards, giveaways and fun challenges they provide for fans and the players excite the fan base and create fun moments and memories for the school.

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