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Wisconsin Hoofers

The Wisconsin Hoofers of the Wisconsin Union is a group of outdoor recreational clubs at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, operated by the Wisconsin Union Directorate.

The Wisconsin Hoofers was begun in 1920 by a group of Norwegian exchange students who built a ski jump on the UW-Madison campus by Lake Mendota. The club was originally called the Badger Ski Club. Porter Butts, the first director of the Memorial Union (Wisconsin), was instrumental in establishing the Wisconsin Hoofers. The first Hoofers club, a skiing and outing club, was established in 1931, modeled after the Dartmouth Outing Club. The name "hoofers" is similar to the term "heelers" used for the new members of the Dartmouth club and reportedly was designed to imply "getting there under your own power." In 1976 Hoofers listed over 5,600 members.[1]

The emblem of the club in its current form is the capital "W" overlaid by the horseshoe (which looks like "U", thus alluding to the "U of W").[2]


  • Hoofer Sailing Club 1
  • Hoofer Ski and Snowboard Club 2
  • Hoofer Outing Club 3
  • Other clubs 4
  • Former clubs 5
  • Notable members 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Hoofer Sailing Club

Hoofer Badger sloops along Lake Mendota.

The Sailing club has been a part of the Hoofer outdoor adventure clubs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1939. In that time it has grown from a handful of boats and members taking care of them, to the second largest inland sailing club in the country.[3]

The sailing club originated as an all-volunteer club whose members maintained boats and taught each other how to sail on wooden dinghies. Fifteen types of craft are sailed today,[4] including the Hoofer-redesigned Tech Dinghy, originally an M.I.T. plan.[5] The club's largest boat is Soma, a Mull 34 racing yacht painted like a Holstein cow.[6] The smallest Hoofer craft are the sailboards.[7]

The club operates at Memorial Union, on the shores of Lake Mendota with more than 120 different boats and sailboards. The club has had upwards of 1,500 members in the past. Members have free access to available boats they are certified to sail.[1] Instruction to obtain certification is also included in the membership dues and is provided by paid and volunteer staff.[1] The University of Wisconsin undergraduate sailing team (nickname Wisco) is a part of the Hoofer Sailing Club.[8]

In 2010 the Sailing Club became an American Sailing Association certified school.[9] There are charges in addition to the dues for ASA certifications and classes.[10]

Hoofer Ski and Snowboard Club

Originally started as the Badger Ski Club with three pairs of skis in 1931,[11] the Ski and Snowboard club has grown to one of the largest clubs of its kind. The club plans a variety of ski and snowboard trips for University of Wisconsin students and union members, ranging from out west, Midwest, and local trips. It had been long-standing tradition that the club organize a 200+ person trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, during the university's spring break.[12] The Club also includes an Alpine Racing Team, Nordic Team,and Freestyle Team.[13] Several annual campus events are organized by the club such as the Rail Jam freestyle competition at Union South and ski and snowboard movie premieres.[14] Since 1963 the club has hosted a ski and snowboard resale every December, which has grown to be the largest in the Midwest. At the resale the local community can buy and sell new or used ski and snowboard equipment.[15] Hoofer Ski and Snowboard Club also offers lessons to those who would like to learn to ski or ride or would like to improve their skills.

Hoofer Outing Club

Founded in 1945, the Outing Club combines a number of outdoor pursuits under a single umbrella club. The Outing club is an all-volunteer, student-run organization, though members need not be affiliated with the UW. The Outing Club is active year-round, with Interest Groups in Caving, Road Cycling, Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing, Telemark Skiing, XC Skiing, Whitewater Paddling, Flatwater Paddling, and Hiking/Backpacking. The club owns a piece of undeveloped property referred to as "Hooferland" near Lakewood, WI, which it uses to stage various weekend trips throughout the year.

Other clubs

Currently there are the following other specialized clubs:[1]

  • Hoofer Riding Club (including Hoofer Equestrian Center) (since 1939)
  • Hoofer Mountaineering Club (since 1949)
  • Hoofer SCUBA Club (since 1976)

Former clubs

Past clubs:[1]

  • Badger Ski Club (1920, the first club, renamed Hoofer Skiing and Outing Club in 1931)
  • Hoofer Skiing and Outing Club (1931, eventually becoming the Hoofer Ski and Snowboard Club)
  • Hoofer Archery Club (1934, suffered from lack of permanent shooting range and in 1965 was made into Hunting Club, which was about shooting prey rather than targets; survived until 1967, folding into Hoofer Outing)
  • Hoofer Canoe Club (1952–1957, folded into Hoofer Outing)
  • Ecology Club (1970s, short-lived)
  • Hoofer Environment Club (1980s, short-lived)
  • Hoofer Gliding Club

Notable members

  • Brothers Paul Bietila and Walter Bietila, selected for the 1940 US Olympic ski jumping team. The Games were cancelled due to World War II. Walter became captain of the 1948 team, and later served on the US National Olympic Committee.[1] Famous Hoofer Sailing Club members include Peter Barrett, an Olympic sailing gold (1968) and silver (1964) winner,[16] and Peter and Olaf Harken, founders of Harken, Inc., a sailing-hardware manufacturer.[17][18][19][20]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Early Hoofers History", a University of Wisconsin archive webpage
  2. ^ Wisconsin Hoofers website
  3. ^ Wisconsin Alumni Association Directory, Intro, p. xv, 2011
  4. ^ Sailing Club Fleets Webpage
  5. ^ Photo and Brief History of Badger Tech
  6. ^ Wisconsin Department of Transportation, State Highway Map, 2004
  7. ^ "Old dogs, new tricks," Wisconsin State Journal, April 26, 2008
  8. ^ University of Wisconsin Sailing Team - About Us
  9. ^ [1] "American Sailing Association website."
  10. ^ [2] "ASA Courses - Hoofer Sailing Club website"
  11. ^ [3]
  12. ^ [4]
  13. ^ [5]
  14. ^ [6]
  15. ^ [7]
  16. ^ Peter Barrett Obituary
  17. ^ Small Business Times, June 23, 2006
  18. ^ CNC Machining Magazine, Vol. 4, No. 14, Summer 2000]\
  19. ^ "How Other Sailors Learned," SailNet, August 31, 2001
  20. ^ "Alumni News," University of Wisconsin-Madison Economics Alumni Newsletter, 2004, p. 8

External links

  • Hoofer Sailing Club
  • Hoofer Riding Club
  • Hoofer Outing Club
  • Hoofer Mountaineering Club
  • Hoofer SCUBA Club
  • Hoofer Ski and Snowboard Club
  • Hoofers Club historical scrapbook collection
  • Muir Knoll Ski Jumping Hill Archive
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