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In their own words: Why these Wisconsin football players chose to get vaccinated
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In their own words: Why these Wisconsin football players chose to get vaccinated

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The University of Wisconsin football team knows better than most the effects COVID-19 can have on a group of people.

The Badgers missed out the chance to play three games last season due to COVID outbreaks, one of which hit 32 UW players and coaches. UW and college football as a whole is hoping all the scheduled games of the 2021 season, and have fans in the stands, despite the still-present threat of COVID-19 and its Delta variant.

Wisconsin head football coach Paul Chryst touches on what he likes about the team, learning from last season, the NIL era and playoff expansion.

UW players have access to the COVID-19 vaccine — a weapon to combat the virus unavailable to them last season — and coach Paul Chryst told reporters late last month the team was above 85% vaccinated. Under current Big Ten Conference protocols, which could change at some point this month, vaccinated players won’t be required to be tested every day as they were last season.

During the program’s media day Thursday, a few players and coaches shared their thoughts on why they chose to get vaccinated, and how they discuss the topic with teammates. Here they are in their own words.

Matt Henningsen, senior defensive lineman

It’s a personal decision, obviously.

Honestly, the reason I got it — I got it as soon as I could — I was one of the players on the team who never got COVID. So I was also wanting to get it a little bit quicker because of that. Because you know that getting COVID grants you a certain level of immunity. So I was kind of rushing to get it, because I didn't want to be quarantined. I had been quarantined from contact tracing, but I never tested positive. So I was kind of rushing to get it to start.

And then once I got it, I was a lot more comfortable just kind of doing my thing. Because I mean, as you know, during the season and stuff, we were kind of just hanging out in our apartments, going to the stadium and coming back. I got my groceries delivered. And it's not necessarily just because you're afraid of the virus and stuff, it's because you don't want to miss time, right? You don't want to miss time on the field because of the contact tracing, all that stuff. It was a weight taken off my back. I mean, obviously, got me a little sick, the normal things.

A good amount of the team (has been vaccinated). And most of the guys who haven't have pretty good reasons not to, I'd like to say that."

What Badgers coach Paul Chryst thinks about College Football Playoff expansion

Alvis Whitted, wide receivers coach

"I was kind of hesitant as well, but then I had to look at the big picture. I have a wife and daughter at home. You know, I have these guys (UW players), I have to be an example for them. I got it a while back, but yeah … hopefully more people can do that."

Logan Bruss, senior offensive lineman

"It’s kind of a fine line between pressuring somebody while also giving them their own choice. The medical staff here, they did a good job of educating everybody on the vaccine and the implications with that. Also not forcing anybody, they just wanted everybody to make the choice for them. They didn’t try to force anybody to do anything. Just as a teammate, I thought if I could keep myself on the field, that would give our team the best chance to win. So that’s what made the decision for me, and I just wanted to be available all the time. ‘Cause last year a lot of guys were getting COVID and having to miss a stretch of three games, and in the middle of the season that can be a killer. So, just making sure I was available the whole time was my main priority.

I was sick of testing. Just hopefully put some of the struggles with it behind us. I know we’re not completely out of the woods yet, but just do my part I thought was enough for me to get it done. … That’s the other thing, I don’t want to be accidentally missing workouts or missing important practices. I just wanted to be as focused as possible."

Graham Mertz, redshirt sophomore quarterback

"For us, there's no pressuring. We know that guys have their own opinions. And yeah, if a guy doesn't want to get it, I mean, I'm not going to jump him for it. Everybody has a right to their own opinion and they can do what they want to do.

Obviously, we'd love to be close to 100%, but realistically it's probably not going to happen, because people probably don't feel comfortable getting it, or … I don’t know, I can't speak for other people. But I got mine just because I knew the benefits for us as a team. And for me getting it, I wouldn't be able to get quarantined or any of that stuff. So for me, my choice was I was just going to get it just because it was the best thing for the team and for the situation that we're in right now. Everybody’s got their own reasons."


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