Andy Baggot on Rob Andringa

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Posted by mAdSCHPORTZ on June 01, 2011 at 11:37:11:

Andy Baggot: Andringa still one of a kind

If I were to put together a list of my favorite people spanning 30-plus years in this business, Rob Andringa would be on it.

Where exactly depends on my mood of the day. He�s usually tied for first, but he�s been known to drop a notch or two when we disagree on something and he can�t admit that he�s wrong.

Still, I�m certain Andringa has never fallen out of my top five, which says far more about his good qualities than mine.

I knew him long before he morphed into someone capable of becoming an inductee into the Madison Sports Hall of Fame, a ceremony that comes up Wednesday night at Monona Terrace. Andringa will go in with Don Annen, Tom Boettcher and Tim Stracka and have a plaque just like his father, Connie, and best boyhood friend, John Byce.

I saw Andringa excel in baseball, football and hockey at Madison Memorial High School. I got to know him when he played baseball and hockey at the University of Wisconsin. I came to appreciate him as a fun, smart, engaging guy in the years that followed, especially when we traveled together with the UW men�s hockey team as beat reporter (me) and radio analyst (him).

Andringa, 42, is a Hall of Famer in this context because he�s maximized the hometown athletic experience, first drawing from a deep pool of local resources, then giving back when the time was right.

Motivated by the unofficial family motto � �You�re not going to be a spectator; you�re going to be a participant� � he played youth sports on the West Side and junior hockey for the Madison Capitols; was a heady, reliable defenseman for the Badgers who won an NCAA title on his watch in 1990; and played baseball at UW just before that program became extinct in 1991.

A variety of volunteer coaching assignments have followed, both at Memorial and youth programs, for the father of three who is the branch director and vice president for RBC Wealth Management.

Andringa is giving back at UW as well, currently serving on its athletic board and helping to coordinate a fundraising effort that brought LaBahn Arena � a new facility benefitting the men�s and women�s hockey and swimming programs � to life.

Andringa has a one-of-a-kind perspective on UW men�s hockey, which I tap into quite often. He had a unique, front-row seat to much of the Bob Johnson era, played for Jeff Sauer and watched from the radio booth as Mike Eaves rebuilt the current product. Andringa celebrated NCAA titles with all three coaches.

The Andringas lived three doors down from Johnson, the legendary architect of the program who won national titles in 1973, �77 and �81, and Rob tagged along whenever his father, one of Johnson�s close friends, went for a visit.

Andringa has a lot of good tales, but the best might be the night of Jan. 30, 1982, when the legendary �water bottle� game between UW and North Dakota took place at the Dane County Coliseum.

He was a 13-year-old stick boy, minding his own business near the bench door, when out of the corner of his eye he saw a stream of water arc from a bottle held by Badgers winger John Newberry go into the face of tough guy Cary Eades. An epic brawl ensued when Eades challenged the UW bench to a fight, then barged through the door and past a wide-eyed kid who was about to see sparks fly � literally.

I�ll let Andringa tell you the rest. Maybe he�ll do so Wednesday night.

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