Tessa Cichy's talent and toughness making impact for Badgers - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Tessa Cichy's talent and toughness making impact for Badgers

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MADISON -- The heart is often the strongest muscle an athlete can have, and Wisconsin junior Tessa Cichy flexes that muscle for her Badger teammates.

"I definitely pride myself on that. Nobody is going to mess with my teammates," Tessa Cichy said.

Tessa is the middle child in a family of athletes. She has an older sister Rochelle, who is a UW graduate and a younger brother Jack, who is a linebacker on the Wisconsin football team. Toughness was a trait instilled in Tessa from a young age.

"Her brother is tough, her sister is tough and that's just kind of the way we are. There was a lot of one-on-one going on, and when Jack was smaller he would end up in tears and when he got bigger maybe she would end up in tears," Tessa's mother Lisa Cichy said.

"It's that hockey background, she played hockey for six years and actually won two state championships in Wisconsin," Tessa's father Steve Cichy said.

"I've always been that kind of person. Even in baseball, I broke some kid's nose one time with the ball," Tessa said.

Entering her career at Wisconsin as a walk-on, it took some time before that tenacity really began to show. Tessa played a limited role for two years, until Wisconsin head coach Bobbie Kelsey called upon her early this season when a starting spot opened up due to injury.

"It was so exciting. I was ready to start when I got here," Tessa said.

"She found a way into the lineup and once she got in there I guess she was determined to stay," Kelsey said.

19 starts later, Cichy rarely comes off the floor, often playing 40 minutes a game. She prides herself on defense, but she has a shot too, leading the Badgers with a career high 20 points Sunday against Iowa.

"I guess I never really look back on it, like wow you've come so far, but I have and I guess that's something to be proud of," Tessa said.

In a season where wins have been hard to come by, the Badgers have developed a player who they can depend on. One with a whole lot of heart.

"All the things you need a guard to do she'll do it. It's hard to sit a player like that on the bench," Kelsey said.

"Toughness and defense and energy, that's something that you can control because it's effort, that's pretty much all it is, is effort," Tessa said.

That's something Wisconsin can count on everytime Tessa takes the court.

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