Inside the Ink: Wisconsin football players share the stories behind their tattoos – Bucky’s 5th Quarter

Posted in Tattoo Designs on Aug 29, 2017

MADISON Nick Nelson stands near the players entrance to the McClain Center adjacent to Camp Randall Stadium, rotating his arms and shoulders slowly. The stretch shows off the various designs imprinted upon his 511, 208-pound frame.

A couple of teammates recently mentioned the cornerbacks name when asked who on the team has some of the best tattoos. Earlier that August day, inside linebacker Chris Orr suggested Nelson, as well as outside linebacker Garret Dooley, have the best tattoos of this years Wisconsin Badgers.

Upon hearing this, Nelson laughs. He flexes his right forearm outward, showcasing his favorite piece of art. On the inner half, R.I.P. Mack Willie is tattooed between a heart and a cross. A rose hangs in the background on the outer half, with Grandad spelled out in cursive.

To Nelson, theres a variety of reasons for adding a permanent tattoo to your body.

Its just like whatever you got going on, whatever you like, Nelson said. Some people like to freestyle, some people like to [get a tattoo of] whatever they have in life, like my grandad. I like to freestyle a lot, so its whatever I like.

Strong safety DCota Dixon strolls up.

No weapon formed against me shall prosper. Dixon recites without hesitation the words tattooed on the upper half of his right arm, a reference from Isaiah 54:17.

For some Badgers, matters of faith, family, and football hold so much personal reverence that mere words cannot convey the depth of their meaning. They have to be physically etched onto their skin as a perpetual presence on their body.

Nelson recalled receiving his first tattoo around the age of 17. His tally is now up to eight.

Im still going though, Im still going, Nelson said, smiling. Ill probably finish my arm. Later on in life, Ill start my chest.

Dooley wears a sleeve of tattoos that link together, running from his shoulder down to his forearm. Like Nelson and many others, Dooleys artwork pays tribute to family. On his left shoulder lies a bald eagle with the American flag, which then transitions into several symbols that represent his country and heritage.

That one was just for my dad [who] served in the military for 30 years, and I think its just respect out of him for that and just our military as a whole, Dooley said in July. The anchor stands for strength and stability, and these are my family initials and kind of go with each other. The one here is a Celtic knot, thats for my Irish heritage.

The one on his outer left forearm features a large skull wearing an army helmet, complete with a bullet hole above the right eye. Dooley just laughs.

This one, honestly, is because its sweet.

It took 12 hours to complete Dooleys series of tattoos, though he admitted he was at the parlor for around 20 due to necessary breaks. Along with the physical commitment, theres a financial one as well.

The money, it was just I had some stuff saved up and I figured now would be a good time to do it, Dooley said in August. It was kind of a split-second decision; obviously I thought about it a little bit, but it was just something I pulled the trigger on.

Yes, Wisconsins sophomore punter, Anthony Lotti, has a sleeve, too. It takes him around 15 seconds to count the number of tattoos from both arms to his back.

Ten, to be exact.

Coaches like to give me crap for it, Lotti said. Like, whats the punter doing having tattoos? But, like, everyone respects it. They like my tattoos a lot so its pretty neat, and connecting with the guys on a different level with the other guys who have tattoos, its really cool to explain the stories.

The artwork flows naturally down his arm, merging symbols from his home state. A Georgia quarter at the top of his left deltoid fades down into an olive tree, the center of his family crest. The mountains and lake that he lived near complement the imagery, with a Cherokee rose, his state flower, underneath.

Inside of his left forearm, a picture of a rhinohis favorite animalsits on top of the Latin phrase, Passus Sum, Didici, Mutatus Sum, which Lotti translates to, I suffered, I learned, I changed. Theres even room for a wolf and a bear.

Two separate messages from both parentsLove You More and Short Memoryare tattooed on the inside of his left arm and right forearm. The latter is what his father, Tony, tells his son before every game.

[Special teams coach Chris] Haering made it clear that Im not allowed to get any tattoos during the season, Lotti said, laughing, so its slowing it down for a minute.

Micah Kapoi, now a redshirt junior, made a huge leap coming to Madison. A native of Kapolei, Hawaii, the versatile guard isnt the only member of his family to currently play Division I football. His brother, Alema, is currently a freshman defensive end for Navy.

We decided to get it in high school just to have that connection, have that connection with us and our family, Kapoi said before motioning lower to the latest venture above his elbow. I just finished this piece down here, and it just represents our culture.

Kapois tattoo design is as detailed as it is intimate. In his words, the nets represent protection for his family.

Being out here, its hard, Kapoi said. Theres not a lot of Polynesian kids, lot of Hawaiian, Samoan kids out here. So its just showing our culture in a different way than just being here. So just having this art, having this story on my body, just shows everyone where Im from, what Im about, and just a little taste of how we do things, how we were raised and all that.

The sentiment of embracing your culture through visual art is shared by starting nose tackle Olive Sagapolu. Though he attended Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., the 62, 346-pound junior hails from Pago Pago, American Samoa.

On his left shoulder, Sagapolu has his initials O and S embedded in a design with an M for his mother, Martina, further down the arm. Wings that stretch outward toward his chest and back represent his familys village in American Samoa.

Flexing his arm upward, Sagapolu points out another important symbol on his left bicep to represent his mother.

My mom definitely played a big factor in my life and its something to live for her, Sagapolu said. She was always there for me whenever I needed her, and for me and her, it was always just us two. I felt that getting that would kind of represent my mom and what our familys for.

Sagapolu appears unfinished. There are other traditional Samoan tattoos he admitted he was thinking of receiving later in life, calling out one in particular.

Its kind of a traditional Samoan design that kind of goes from your legs down, a little bit in your belly button, a little bit of the sides, and the back that kind of represent the Samoan pea, we call it, Sagapolu said. Its a traditional Samoan tattoo that kind of symbolizes where you are in your life and what kind of things you stand for.

For a couple of Wisconsin senior wide receivers, footballs meaning goes beyond the field.

George Rushings left tricep reveals an intricate design of a football fused with a heart.

Ive been playing tackle football since I was five, Rushing said in July, so its kind of ingrained in me where Im from. Its just one of those things I felt like go hand-in-hand with my heart.

Sitting next to him that day was Jazz Peavy. The Kenosha, Wis., native has four tattoos, including an impressive piece of artwork on his left arm. Inside an eye, two hands reach out to reel in a catch.

I wanted to get a football tattoo and something that kind of embodied these past four, four-and-a-half years that Ive been here, Peavy said. So I definitely wanted to get the red for Wisconsin, red gloves, and what Ive been doing for so long and something that I have such a passion for: catching footballs.

Peavy enters his fifth year in Madison and has risen the past two seasons to become one of Wisconsins offensive playmakers. Last season, his 43 receptions ranked second on the team. He also developed into a rushing threat, gaining 318 yards on 15.1 per carry.

Having to work his way up to become a leader of his position group, theres no doubt this tattoo holds a particular place in his heart.

I feel like Ive put so much time and energy and blood, sweat and tears into this place, and its definitely one of those things where Ive started, I didnt know how and where Id was going to end up, Peavy said later in August. In a million years, I wouldnt have guessed Id be in this position Im in now. Its just something Ive consistently worked on playing receiver and working on my game and getting to where Im at now, so I take a lot of pride in what I do, so I put it on me for life.

Originally posted here:
Inside the Ink: Wisconsin football players share the stories behind their tattoos - Bucky's 5th Quarter

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