NEW YORK CITY — One player on the University of Wisconsin’s roster, senior safety D’Cota Dixon, earned a sneak-peak of New York City after the Pinstripe Bowl announced the Badgers would face Miami at Yankee Stadium on Dec. 27.
As a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, given to the nation’s top scholar athlete, Dixon took a trip to the city just two days after the announcement to attend the National Football Foundation Annual Awards Dinner.
It wasn’t easy, however, for Dixon to describe his experience to those who haven’t been there.
"It made you feel like Santa Claus was real or something,” Dixon said earlier this month. "I don’t know. It was one of those type of places. It was just a big, a lot of flashiness, all that stuff. … I think it’ll be one of those experiences where it’s more exciting when you get there. I think guys are excited, but it’s more exciting when you actually get there."
Dixon and the rest of the the Badgers arrived in New York on Sunday for a bowl experience that may be quite different than what they’re accustomed to — a cold-weather rematch of last year’s Orange Bowl in the heart of the country’s largest city.
UW players will admit it’s not where they envisioned — or necessarily wanted — to end the season after holding hope in August of making the College Football Playoff. Landing in the Pinstripe Bowl, though, does afford the team an opportunity to partake in activities that no other bowl game can provide.
The Badgers plan on visiting the 9/11 Memorial and One World Observatory on Christmas morning, while representatives from each program will ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.
"A visit to New York wouldn’t be complete without going to the 9/11 memorial,” Pinstripe Bowl executive director Mark Holtzman said. "That changed the landscape of New York forever, and a lot of these kids weren’t even born when that happened. It’s important that they see because we should never forget that.
“First and foremost, this is a very special experience for these kids, many of whom have never been to New York before. … We want to give these kids a real flare for what New York has to offer, and around Christmas time, there’s some very special things going on."
Holtzman also said the Yankees place a priority on making sure the bowl game “gives something back,” and UW will visit the Pediatric Cancer Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering on Wednesday after the trip to the New York Stock Exchange.
Not only will the team participate in events unique to the area, but playing in Yankee Stadium on Thursday also isn’t something many athletes have the opportunity to do.
"I’ve never been there before, so that’ll be a first time for me,” said UW running back Jonathan Taylor, who hails from Salem, N.J., about 130 miles southwest of the venue. "I hear so much about it, so I can’t wait to go out there, can’t wait to go on the field and look at it."
The Badgers, obviously, are here with the main focus of leaving Yankee Stadium with a win and earning a positive end to their disappointing season.
That doesn’t mean they can’t also take advantage of spending five days in one of the world’s most iconic cities.
"I don’t know how many of our players have been to New York City,” UW coach Paul Chryst said. "New York over the holidays, it’s like the movies. It’s pretty special."