MADISON (WKOW) -- Footwork drills. Pass routes. Scrimmages. Weight training. These are all things the University of Wisconsin football team likely expected to do during spring practice.
They probably never expected to play dodgeball or have a dance-off.
In his first few months as head coach, Gary Andersen has taken a player-focused approach, making great strides to connect with his players both on and off the field. That's why he implemented the Badger Team Accountability Challenge.
In the BTA Challenge, ten teams of ten players compete against each other in various categories, including academics, community service events, weightlifting, and even games like dodgeball.
"That was pretty fun," said senior Safety Dezmen Southward. "I can't say I was any good. Our quarterbacks were great."
Andersen brought the idea for the BTA Challenge from his time coaching at Utah State. But perhaps it is even more vital now, coming into a new school and team.
"Every time we go back into the new facilities, coaches are walking through there, hanging out with us, trying to build that camaraderie and trust, and that's huge, especially for a new coaching staff coming in like this," said senior defensive lineman Brendan Kelly.
Each team is assigned a coach who participates in the challenge, as well. Coach Andersen even gets in at practice, snapping the ball at center, a position he played in college.
"It gets harder and harder to get down there and snap every day," said Andersen. "But it's fun to be a part of it and to be with the kids."
Both players and coaches know the BTA Challenge is more than just fun and games.
"Like it says, the accountability part of it is huge," said senior Brendan Kelly. "I think guys rely on each other more. I think it brings the team closer on and off the field. You know, the best teams in history are always the closest off the field."
The players said they have really bought into the challenge and love the rivalry and camaraderie it creates.
"It keeps us all excited and interested, " said Southward. "It's tough to come out here and grind and grind every day. So, that's one of the things Coach Andersen prides himself on. He throws us curve balls all the time. We really don't have an idea of what to expect, and it makes you stay on your toes and be on you game."
While it definitely brings out the team's competitive side, there is no loser in the BTA Challenge.
"Everyone wins with the BTA," said senior linebacker Chris Borland. "I know it's corny, but everybody wins."
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