Badgers enjoying ride to Sweet Sixteen as it prepares to face Stanford

Image By: Niamh Rahman and Niamh Rahman

Being in the moment and focusing on what lies ahead of you is crucial to game-time focus. Not dwelling on the past or looking too far into the future is what makes or breaks a player’s presence on the court.

As the Wisconsin Badgers (11-9 Big Ten 22-9 overall)head into more competitive rounds of the NCAA Tournament, keeping loose and enjoying the moment are key principles in the team’s mindset.

Throughout the entire season, the players have echoed head coach Kelly Sheffield’s mantra of “being on the train.” To put it nicely, you are either on board or not, the train is moving and the choice is yours.

Sheffield has coached this train of thought, and emphasized it even more when heading into the most competitive and high-stakes time of the season.

After sweeping its first two competitors in the NCAA Tournament, multiple players agree that after a rocky first set, the weekend ended with improvement; that is what they expected all along.

“None of us expected to be perfect in the first set,” senior Kelli Bates said. “We didn’t expect to start off rocky, but we did and we went from there. We expected to improve every set and we did just that.”

Bates along with all of her teammates this season have recalled Sheffield’s teachings about not letting too much time be spent on anything but the present. After a loss it was expected that players would quickly brush it off of their shoulders. After a win, it was okay to celebrate, but the time to get back on track for more practice was always on the horizon.

“We have always taken a weekend each game at a time,” senior Lauryn Gillis said. “This season we have focused on what we can control, which is our game. Coach said it is time to enjoy, we have worked hard this season. We know we can do it, now it is time to enjoy the moment and use the skills we have been building up all season.”

Going forward, both Bates and Gillis, as seniors, reflected on their time as Badgers and their last NCAA run this season. “I really have been trying to let loose and enjoy the moment, especially this season,” Gillis said.

With a large portion of the team being newer players, this insight speaks volumes to their younger teamates.

This weekend Wisconsin faces No. 3 Stanford on Friday in Palo Alto, Calif. with the same mindset that has been there all season: One step at a time, be in the moment and the train is moving, it's your choice if you want to keep riding.

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