Badger Shirt Streak
Rob Vitense ’99 turned a losing streak into a Badger streak.
Sulking over the struggles of the high school baseball team he was coaching, Vitense searched for something — anything — to change his mood in spring 2011. He stumbled onto an unlikely remedy when he slipped on a Badger T-shirt. Feeling a bit more optimistic, Vitense vowed to continue wearing Badger shirts each day until the end of the baseball season. By that time, however, his attention started shifting to the upcoming Wisconsin football season.
Vitense quickly discovered that Badger season never really ends, and a streak was born.
“It just keeps going,” he says. “There are some days that I’m like, ‘Maybe I should find an excuse to stop so my wife and children don’t have to deal with it all the time.’ ”
That excuse remains elusive. Three years later, Vitense still dons a Badger T-shirt, sweatshirt, or jersey every day — and everywhere. “I’ve worn them under church clothes for weddings,” he says.
Vitense’s Badger wardrobe boasts an impressive fifty-two T-shirts, sweatshirts, and jerseys, which he often shows by posting to his Twitter account, @BadgerCubinMN. His favorite piece of apparel is a custom-made replica of the jersey worn by Dave Schreiner ’43, with whom Vitense’s grandfather grew up in Lancaster, Wisconsin. Schreiner, whose number 80 is retired inside Camp Randall, was an All-American end for the Badgers in the early 1940s; he died while serving in World War II.
Vitense now teaches health and physical education at a Minnesota junior high school, where his students are eager to keep his streak honest. If he dares to wear a generic sweatshirt, they astutely inquire about the shirt underneath. His friends, coworkers, and family — including his wife, Holly MS’00, PhD’02 — aren’t always as enthusiastic.
“They think I’m nuts,” Vitense says, “but that’s not a whole lot different than the way they used to think of me. I’m a Badger, so it’s just the way it is.”
The shirt streak hit one thousand days over the winter. Vitense marked the occasion just as he did the previous nine hundred and ninety-nine. “I don’t think I put on anything really special for any of them,” he says. “It’s just another day.”
Published in the Summer 2014 issue