The Wisconsin football helmet, close your eyes and you can picture it clear as day. A sweeping red “W” with two red stripes and a red facemask on a white lid, usually seen in Midwestern football cathedrals throughout the fall and in Pasadena on the first of every year.
First-year head coach Gary Andersen isn’t giving Wisconsin iconic “W” decals away, though. Andersen has equipped each Badgers newcomer with a plain white helmet adorned with a single black stripe. He has also assigned each newcomer with an upperclassman big brother, charged with shepherding his little brother through camp. When the big brother feels his little brother has earned it, then and only then will he don the regular Wisconsin helmet.
When the time comes, the upperclassman tells the rest of the team a little bit about his little brother, where he comes from and why he’s earned a regular helmet. It’s not an avenue to haze or single out first-year players, but instead a way to bond a new part of the roster with the old.
“It’s an honor,” says transfer offensive lineman Chris Gill, “something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, being able to have that ‘W’ on my helmet.”