Cathy Wilder and Craig Wilder were at the front of the crowd lined up by Camp Randall Memorial Arch to catch a glimpse of their son, Collin Wilder, just a few hours before the University of Wisconsin was set to open its football season Saturday.
It’s tradition for the Badgers to walk through the arch, and the Wilders wanted to see their son decked out in his suit and tie before the game. While the Wilders went to a few away games last season — UW didn’t allow fans in the stadium while some opponents did — Craig Wilder said there’s nothing like a game at Camp Randall Stadium.
“It’s one of the iconic sports venues in the country,” Craig Wilder said. “There’s so much history, so much tradition, so much meaning to this place. We are so excited that Collin is going to get to play here again in front of 80 something thousand people.”
The Wilders are from Texas but made it a point to come to every game possible. They said they’ve fallen in love with many of the traditions at the stadium, from “Jump Around” to the “Fifth Quarter” performance by the band.
After just under two years away from the stadium, many parents of UW players woke up early, donned their fan apparel and headed to Regent Street to celebrate game day festivities.
The Wilders said it was difficult not to be able to support their son in person. They were nervous an injury — like the season-ending knee injury Collin Wilder sustained at the University of Houston in 2017 — would occur and they wouldn’t be able to be by his side.
“It’s a pretty brutal sport and we want to be here in case something happens,” Craig Wilder said. “For us to not be able to be here in the stadium last year, we’re 1,200 miles away watching him from our couch, was very unsettling. So we’re excited to be here for him.”
The Wilders have tickets to every home game in 2021 and are soaking up every moment of their son’s final collegiate season.
The Wilders joined many parents in Section G, where there were people packed shoulder-to-shoulder decked out in Badgers gear with their son’s names on it.
Jennifer Longsine, senior offensive lineman Logan Bruss’ mother, was on her feet cheering during nearly every play.
Longsine was waiting in line to scan her ticket and was delayed due to long lines. She said once she got into the stadium, she ran to her seat and left her parents behind, simply because she wanted to watch Bruss run on the field for his final “first” game.
“It was tough for us not getting to see him, but it was also tough for him because we weren’t able to be here with him,” Longsine said. “He told us once, ‘Mom, I sure wish you could be here for the games.’”
Senior cornerback Faion Hicks’ mother was in attendance, too. She, like Longsine, was on her feet for most of the game, sporting a button with Hicks’ face on it. Faion Hicks said seeing his mother and the other fans was one of the few highlights of the Badgers’ 16-10 loss to Penn State.