UNCUT Madison provides platform for Badgers to tell their own stories

UNCUT Madison puts storytelling in Badgers athlete’s hands.
Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 10:11 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Stories of the players, by the players.

That’s what UNCUT Madison will bring to Badgers fans. A platform with the same principles as the Players Tribune where athletes share their experiences from their firsthand perspective, just focused on Wisconsin Badgers athletics.

The concept of UNCUT first began in Chapel Hill with the University of North Carolina and then spread to Duke and Appalachian State. Scrolling through LinkedIn back in October is how current UW-Madison student Olivia Hancock found UNCUT. Now 5 months later with over 20 hours of work put in every week, her idea is coming to fruition.

“It feels like a movement.” Hancock said. “It’s not just a project. It’s an extension of empowering student-athletes.”

Not too long after discovering the idea of UNCUT Madison, Hancock met a Cofounder through destiny. Volunteering at the voter polls in Madison on election day of 2020, she was stationed at the same spot as the No. 1 Wisconsin women’s volleyball team.

Sitting next to the reigning Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year, Dana Rettke, Hancock just started pitching the idea of UNCUT to the Badgers outside hitter who was onboard with the idea right away.

“I told her if you need any help getting it started here at Wisconsin, let me know.” says Rettke. Hancock and Rettke were then on the phone the next day.

“The reason I just got so involved is I just love the mission. I love what we’re working for and what we’re doing.” the All-American added.

“She was just really excited about the idea and I think within a week or so we were on the phone with communications at the athletic department. With compliance figuring out how we can make this work while keeping the student-athletes eligible.” added Hancock.

With fellow cofounders Drew Kocken who’s also the head of content and Eden Rane who’s a member of the UW rowing team UNCUT Madison will launch on Wednesday. Using every social media platform at their disposal and with its own website as well, the cofounders are excited for fans to see what they have in store after seeing the reaction from their peers.

“As long as those student athletes keep generating that excitement and keep showing how much they want to tell their stories, I’m more and more confident this is going to be a staple at our school for a long time.” said Kocken.

Serving the role of Director of Athlete Relations is redshirt freshman linebacker for the Badgers football team, Maema Njongmeta. While juggling football with finance classes with aspirations to work in private banking one day, Njongmeta is excited to show that he and his peers are more than just athletes.

“Our calling card is student, athlete, human. I think people get so caught up in shoehorning athletes into ‘this is what you do, I see you on gameday that’s what you are. I think the point of uncut is to breakdown that 4th wall and really let people see us more than just on game day or more than just ‘oh that’s number 55”.

With segments such as Dana’s Den which is hosted by Rettke over zoom where she asks about lessons that sports have taught Badgers athletes throughout life, to written testimonials of soccer athletes battling through depression while competing throughout a season and of course sharing their experiences of playing a season through COVID, UNCUT Madison will leave no stone unturned.

Telling stories from all walks of life, whether male or female athletes, Black or white or part of the LGBTQ community, the leaders of UNCUT Madison know diversity matters in their story telling. ”We need to hear those voices because there’s not a lot of platforms for those voices, especially as athletes.” said Njongmeta.

While Rettke seeks to lead the Badgers back to another National Championship appearance, and Njongmeta pursues his first season as an active player for the Badgers after dealing with an injury in 2020, they know the legacy they can leave behind in Madison surpasses what they do on the field or court.

“I want my light to shine son bright that it inspires others lights to shine in whatever field or area it is.” said Njongmeta.

“I think it would be so awesome to say I started this platform that will be here in five, ten years. It kind of gives us a lot of voice and a lot of power. I think it’s something that sets an example for the community.” added Rettke.

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