Friendships take higher value for departing Badger senior

first_imgMEGHAN CONLIN/Herald photoWhile Sunday will mark the final regular season game ever for UW women’s basketball senior Annie Nelson, she isn’t too concerned about the outcome.There’s no questioning her desire to end her four-year career with a victory, but sometimes there are simply more important things in life.For instance, there are the friendships and connections she has made over her time here at Wisconsin, particularly with her fellow senior teammate and roommate Jordan Wilson.”Jordan’s a great person,” Nelson said. “It’s just been amazing, and it’s a lifelong friendship. [The two of us] are living together again next year, and then we’ll probably go our separate ways with our jobs and things like that, but it’s a friend I’ll have for the rest of my life.”Of course, Nelson wants to win just like any other competitive basketball player, but she has taken to the recent advice of a former teammate in enjoying her final few moments on the team.”Emily Ashbaugh just wrote me an e-mail a couple days ago about how she really cannot remember the wins and losses,” Nelson said. “She really can’t remember her records ever in her four years here, but she still [keeps in] contact with every single player she has ever played with, and that has meant the most to her. So I definitely take my friendship with Ebba (Gebisa) and Steph (Rich) with me as I leave and then everyone else still here, too.”Though Nelson has experienced some difficult seasons over the years record-wise, this season in particular has been her most frustrating.Nelson missed extensive time since New Years following a shoulder injury, and has had to adjust to a different role by sitting on the bench.”It’s just been hard because I’ve worked so hard after my sophomore year to get where I am right now,” Nelson said. “No athlete likes to be injured, so it’s just been really frustrating for me, but now it has actually alleviated a little bit since we’ve been winning a little bit more.”While Nelson is healthy once again and available to play, she hasn’t received the same minutes she was getting earlier in the year, as some of the younger players like sophomore Danielle Ward have stepped up in her absence.But that hasn’t bothered her one bit.”I’ve just been trying to be a vocal leader on the sidelines,” Nelson said. “It is hard being on the sidelines, but I just try to encourage everybody when they come off the floor and keep everyone together during the timeouts and huddles and stuff like that. [During] practice, I just try giving my advice to the underclassmen as much as possible.”And the underclassmen have greatly appreciated her advice.”I learned so much from Annie,” Ward said. “When I came in, [she] quickly took me under her wing. I learned to always work hard, never give up, and never settle for anything less than your best.”Annie really showed [how] to persevere through her injuries, I learned so much emotionally from her.”Despite her woes this season, the way the Badgers have been playing as of late is exactly the way Nelson would like to end her career.”It’s been a great way to end my season here, especially three home games right away.”Nelson said the home games are exceptionally special and possibly what she will miss the most.”It’ll be the last time I will be able to play in front of 7,000 plus people twice a week,” she said. “The competitive edge of Division-I is insane, and I’m so lucky to be in the Big Ten in such a competitive conference.”I mean, yeah, I can play intramural basketball and stuff like that, but that’s not in front such a large crowd, so I think that’s what I’m going to miss the most.”While Senior Day is typically an emotional one for those graduating, Nelson insists it has yet to even cross her mind — though she has reminisced of all the great times she has had here at the Kohl Center.”I haven’t even thought about it because it doesn’t even seem like it’s going to happen yet,” Nelson said. “Every year I’ve had to say goodbye to senior classes and I just keep telling myself that’s never going to happen, I’m always going to be a basketball player.”I really can’t imagine what it’s going to be like,” she added. “I think just the emotion of it — having it be the last time I play on the Kohl Center floor is just going to be really overwhelming for me. I’ve played on this floor since I was a senior in high school, so it should be pretty emotional.”last_img

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