On Jan. 30, former Wisconsin linebacker Jack Cichy sat down with WSUM’s Dan Labosky and Patrick Sexton. He touched on his time in Madison, working through injuries and his love for Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison, among other things. Some questions have been edited for brevity.
WSUM: Was there ever any other goal to go anywhere other than Wisconsin?
Cichy: No. It was really always that was my goal and dream—to play for Bucky. It didn’t look very good for a while. I didn’t have much interest except for some Ivy League and East Coast schools that weren’t exactly football powerhouses, but I could get in there with my grades and allowed me to keep playing. About two weeks before National Signing Day, the Badgers asked me to come for a walk on visit, so that was that and I obviously made a decision right on the spot.
WSUM: Are you the best athlete in your family?
Cichy: I think it’s a close call, but if you give me two healthy knees, I will go on record and say I am the most athletic.
WSUM: Talk about the impact that Wisconsin has had on you and what it means to be a Badger.
Cichy: I really think, especially with the amount of adversity that I had to go through in my time, I really think that Wisconsin was able to teach me how to handle aversity and bounce back and keep a positive outlook… They just grew me as a person and a man. I built great friendships, had great experiences and got a degree, too… My mom was far more excited than I was.
WSUM: How were you able to get through those injuries?
Cichy: Honestly, I think when it’s all said and done, the mental toll of it all was harder than the physical toll on my body with the ups and downs and the drastic highs that I experienced playing and those lows of it all taken away. My teammates were unreal, the coaches were extremely accommodating, the trainers and strength staff was unreal. They helped me out in the weight room when they could and I think being able to do some stuff in the weight room had a powerful effect on my overall mental state. Obviously my mom and my family—just the way they stayed steady through it all. I think that really set me up for success and I couldn’t have done it without all those pieces.
WSUM: What kind of things were you doing to help the team?
Cichy: I would just do whatever I thought was necessary at the time. I wanted to stay involved and help out my fellow linebackers and defense as best I could without being overbearing. When you’re in the heat of the game and one of your teammates is yelling at you, it can kind of get on your nerves, so I really tried to find a nice balance of the whole thing, which I think I was able to do pretty successfully… I think I only had to rip into them once or twice. They were obviously an extremely mature group and handled themselves out there. I just like to think I helped out a little bit too.
WSUM: You had a tough decision to make about whether you were going to apply for a medical redshirt or head to the NFL draft. What went into making that decision?
Cichy: A lot of things went into making that decision. By no means was it an easy one. After I got hurt, I cried a lot about the injury and when I was forced with the decision about what was next for me, that was pretty tough too. I shifted gears over that too. I fell in love with Madison and college football in my time in Madison. It wasn’t easy to accept the fact that my playing days were over but in the back of my mind, once I found out the diagnosis of the injury, I kind of knew that my time had come and gone as far as football in Madison. Me and my dad had a couple conversations on what I thought was best long-term and how I wanted to attack rehab. It was pretty clear that I really had one avenue to go down, and that was to accept that my college playing days were over.
WSUM: Are there any athletes that you looked up to?
Cichy: When I came into Madison, I really looked up to Chris Borland. I think he really helped me with an outlook on college football. I always loved Adam Morrison from Gonzaga. I remember watching him doing his thing in the tournament. I always loved the swagger and the mustache he played with, so that would probably be one of my top guys.
WSUM: Playing in Camp Randall is obviously special. What is that feeling like?
Cichy: It’s really breathtaking, honestly. You’re running out a dark, red tunnel, and depending on if it’s a day or a night game, you kind of just go into this ocean of red. It’s nice with the sky as a backdrop, looking up and taking it all in. I remember the night games we’ve had, just going up at the students getting loud. It’s really indescribable.
WSUM: Was football always the sport you wanted to pursue?
Cichy: I played hockey until seventh grade. We were obviously a basketball family too. As you know, the hockey and basketball seasons overlap and I knew my sister Tessa was picking the basketball route. At that time, I started falling in love with basketball. I really hadn’t found my love for football yet, so I also chose basketball over hockey. I definitely miss playing hockey. I kind of fell in love football around sophomore year of high school and found I could have some success with that.