When making a quilt for Bo Ryan, one does not just make any old quilt; it would need to symbolize the hard work and dedication that he has put into the Badgers Boys Basketball team at the University of Wisconsin.
That is exactly what Heidi Brenum put into that quilt; hard work and dedication.
Heidi, owner of Pins and Pieces in downtown Darlington, and her husband, Steve, went to Ohio on a buying trip, to buy new material for the shop. While shopping, her husband saw a quilt that had a design dedicated to the Ohio Buckeyes.
“I knew I needed to make a Badger quilt,” Heidi commented.
Then during a quilt show in Green Bay in 2014, the Badgers were getting close to the Final Four. Steve told Heidi she needed to make two quilts, one for him and one for Bo.
“I was like Bo who? Bo Ryan? Steve wanted me to make it because he enjoyed the game so much.”
After completing the 56 square inch quilt, they applied for an appointment to take it to Bo’s secretary in March 2015. They received a signed team poster and letter back from Bo that stated ‘Steve and Heidi, thanks for the quilt. It’s awesome.’
“When we got it we were like ‘oh wow, this is so neat’. We were so excited.”
A week before Labor Day last year, Heidi received an email from Bo’s secretary.
“She was like ‘hello, do you remember me? Well, of course I do!” Brenum exclaimed.
Ryan wanted to know how much it would cost to get another quilt made. He wanted it to represent the 2014-15 team.
“We asked if we could meet up with him and get a picture with his quilt and find out what he wanted for this new quilt.”
They met with Ryan the same day as the Madison Quilting Expo.
“He is very down to earth. He showed us pictures of his grandkids and all of his trophies. He was proud of the final four team.”
Brenum commented on taking several pictures of his office because they would most likely never be back there again.
“Steve loved it. He was in his glory.”
She told Ryan that the quilt would not be done until after November because she would be busy with different quilt shows.
But then on December 15, 2015 Bo Ryan announced his retirement effective immediately. Longtime assistant coach Greg Gard would be taking over as interim head coach.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with the quilt now. He is still going to get it and it’s still going to be made, but I don’t know where it will be going.”
Brenum emailed his secretary to get some clarification on when Ryan would be expecting to receive it. His secretary was unsure.
“We joked that he could come down here to the store and pick it up then go and see Aaron.”
Brenum was referring to Aaron Lancaster, Darlington High School Principal, who played on Ryan’s team when Ryan was head coach at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
When Ryan asked Brenum where her store was located and where she was from, Ryan knew exactly where Darlington and Wiota were because of Lancaster’s connection to the area.
“He has kept track of all his previous players. It’s neat that he keeps track of those guys.”
While waiting to hear where to send the quilt, Brenum still has some finishing touches before she can put it on the machine to be completed. This quilt will be the exact same as the quilt he already owns except the middle picture will be of the 2014-15 team and the top picture will be of the Big Ten Tournament.
The quilt is a custom quilt pattern, where each square has a different design from swirls to geometric shapes to stars.
“That’s I why I have been dragging my feet because it takes more work to do all that stuff.”
The picture of Brenum, her husband and Ryan on the Pins and Pieces Facebook page received over 8,000 hits, 298 likes and 37 shares.
“I was telling people that was my quilt for Bo Ryan. Now I say I’ve been commissioned to do a quilt for Bo Ryan.”
At her store, Brenum is selling kits that people can buy to make the same quilt pattern and fabric as the one made for Ryan, so anyone can share a piece of Badger pride with Bo Ryan.