Families Divided

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For some Marquette student-athletes’ families, choosing who to root for in the Marquette-Wisconsin rivalry isn’t so easy.

Sometimes it’s because of a parent who played at Wisconsin. Other times, an athlete’s sibling who dons the Badgers’ white and cardinal.

Women’s soccer sophomore forward Kylie Sprecher’s mom played for the Badgers’ soccer team during her time at Wisconsin.

“I look up to my mom a ton, so of course, growing up playing soccer, I always wanted to be just like her. Naturally, I rooted for the school she played for because she loves it so much,” Sprecher says. “Being from Wisconsin, our family cheered for all (Badger) sports (teams). I was in an environment where Wisconsin was ‘the school.’”  

Sprecher says she didn’t think about attending Marquette until her current head coach Markus Roeders watched her play in high school and reached out to her club coach.

“If I had to pick a school to go to in Wisconsin, my first choice at that time wouldn’t have been Marquette. Then, I came here and visited (the campus), and I loved it,” Sprecher says.

Then her allegiances changed quickly to blue and gold.

“(I) kind of just got that feeling that I could see myself here,” Sprecher says. “I had been to Madison’s campus so many times, and I never had the same feeling that I got when I was on Marquette’s campus.” 

From the Marquette women’s cross country and track and field team, senior Mary Hanson’s mother and two of her sisters are all former Badger student-athletes.

Growing up, Hanson says she wasn’t a huge Badger fan, but like Sprecher, she roots for them because she was raised in a Badger family. 

Hanson says her older sister, Michaela, who ran track for Marquette from 2003-’07, had a significant role in Mary’s decision to go to Marquette.

“My oldest sister Michaela always talked about Marquette like it was a really special place. I just got a really good gut feeling, and I ended up getting in touch with Mike Nelson, our coach,” Hanson says. “Now that I’m here, I cannot imagine being anywhere else. The relationships I’ve built here have been authentic, and they’ve made me braver. Running for Marquette has been a lot different than what my experience would’ve been at Madison.” 

Both Hanson and Sprecher say while there is a competitive atmosphere among their families, they embrace it nonetheless. 

“It’s a fun rivalry,” Sprecher says. “For basketball, my mom will always root for Wisconsin, and I will always root for Marquette.”

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