Wisconsin Badgers star Dana Rettke named Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year

MADISON, Wis. — Dana Rettke might need to invest in some extra storage space to hold all of her trophies. The Badger volleyball star was named Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year Wednesday, conference officials announced.

This is the second time Rettke has taken home the award, which she also won in 2019-20. She is only the third woman to win it twice and the only person, male or female, to be named conference Athlete of the Year in non-consecutive seasons.

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The honor adds another line to Rettke’s already lengthy résumé. The middle blocker was named Wisconsin Female Athlete of the Year earlier this week and 2021 AVCA National Player of the Year last winter. She is the first five-time, first-team All-American in AVCA history, and was also a five-time, first-team All-Big Ten selection. She was named Big Ten Player of the Week a UW-record 11 times.

She won three-straight Big Ten championships with the Badgers, an FIVB Nations League gold medal with Team USA, helped the U.S. qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and capped off her collegiate career by leading Wisconsin to the program’s first-ever NCAA national championship. She holds UW records for hitting percentage, blocks and points.

Rettke is the fifth Badger to win Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year alongside track and field runners Kathy Butler (1997), Suzy Favor (1988, 1989, 1990), Stephanie Herbst (1986) and Cathy Branta (1985).

The Riverside, Ill. native now plays professional volleyball in Italy with Milan-based Vero Volley Monza. Monza finished third in the recently-finished Seria A season and qualified for the upcoming Champions League.

Minnesota wrestler Gable Steveson was named Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year after an undefeated season that saw him win a Big Ten and NCAA title. Steveson defeated then-reigning world champion Geno Petriashvili to win gold at the Tokyo Olympics. He is now a WWE superstar and made his debut in April at WrestleMania 38.