MADISON (WKOW) — Alex Luehring dreamed of wearing a Badgers uniform since the time she could walk.
“I had a Badgers onesie my mom used to put me in for all the Badgers games.”
Luehring didn’t miss many home games.
“My dad and I used to come every Sunday together.”
She even recalls exactly where they would sit.
“Yeah. It was right there. The 128 section.”
The college basketball fan became a college recruit at Verona High School. She helped lead the Wildcats to a state championship. However, the Badgers did not offer a scholarship at the time.
“I kind of realized that was something that wasn’t going to happen for me. So, I just went along in the recruiting process and ultimately chose Green Bay.”
Just as Luehring was preparing for her career with the Phoenix, she learned her father, Les Luehring, had been diagnosed with kidney cancer.
“As his health started declining, it was just weighing on me so much, I knew I couldn’t be the best person and player at Green Bay, knowing he was back here and knowing I wasn’t going to be able to see him as much as I wanted.”
After spending a redshirt season at Green Bay, Luehring made the difficult decision to transfer.
“There was a night I was struggling with. My parents had just dropped me back off in Green Bay for our May and summer training. I just called my mom crying. I was like,’I just really, really want to come home.’. ”
Luehring talked to her head coach at Green Bay and then contacted Jonathan Tsipis at Wisconsin. She transferred to Wisconsin this summer and was granted immediately eligibility.
“I know my dad was really excited and something he held on to and something that motivated him was he wanted to try to be here to watch me play here.”
However, Les Luehring would never see his daughter play for the Badgers. He died a little more than two months before the season opener.
“I think about him when I play. If I miss a shot, ‘What would my dad tell me to do?’,” Alex says of her father, who was a high school coach in the area.
The redshirt freshman says basketball has helped her heal. She’s averaging seven points per game for the Badgers.
“She’s done an amazing job focusing on what we’ve asked from a basketball standpoint but academically, socially,” Tsipis says of his 6’2″ guard. “It’s a hard transition, and she’s done it so well and brought so much joy to our program.”
Luehring is living her childhood dream, but she admits her eyes occasionally search the stands for her greatest fan.
“I still like to think he’s there in 128 where we used to sit. A lot of people say that their parents are their best friends, but I mean it with my dad. He was my best friend in the world. I think about my dad all the time. Like everything I do, I try to think of him and the lessons he taught me, the kind of person he wanted me to be and just try to live my life that way.”
That is why Alex Luehring takes the court every game proud to represent the name on the front of her jersey…and also the name on the back.