It seems like wherever I have worked during my higher education professional career, there is one university and one fan base that I have crossed paths with the most: the University of Wisconsin.
Way back in 2012 when I was working at the University of Montana, I traveled to Albuquerque with the men’s basketball team for the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Griz opponent? The Wisconsin Badgers. I got to meet Bucky and see firsthand how passionately the Wisconsin fans show up for their team.
Just a few years later I was working for Coastal Carolina University and I was once again bound for the NCAA tournament with the men’s basketball team. This time I was off to Omaha but while the city changed the opponent didn’t—our #16 seeded Chanticleers played #1 seed Wisconsin. This was the final year with Bo Ryan as head coach as the Badgers would make the NCAA championship game before falling to Duke. This particular experience exposed me to the digital fandom of the University of Wisconsin. I participated in a Twitter/X back-and-forth with the UW social media manager that generated rave reviews and endeared us to the Badger faithful.
Fast forward eight years and this weekend I had yet another experience with the University of Wisconsin—this time as an employee of Washington State University. The Badger football team came to Pullman for a marquee non-conference showdown with the Cougs. Earlier in the summer I pitched a video idea centering on Wisconsin’s reputation as the “Cheese State” in relation to our university’s famous Cougar Gold white cheddar. The crux was to have Badger fans try our Cougar Gold and give their honest feedback. After all, who is more of a cheese authority than the “cheeseheads” themselves?
The idea became reality on Saturday. I approached Wisconsin fans and offered them the opportunity to sample Cougar Gold as our video team filmed their reactions. Our videographers then turned around this fun video.
As with my prior interactions with Wisconsin fans, everyone was nice, gracious, and humble. When I approached them, they were more than willing to play along and most of them had nothing but genuinely complimentary things to say about Cougar Gold. It was a joy to work with them.
So if anyone from the University of Wisconsin community happens to see this blog post, please know this—I respect you! Thanks for making intercollegiate athletics so fun. Don’t Blink.