MADISON - Many young hockey fans in the Northwoods grow up watching Wisconsin play each week. Rarely do those fans get to actually sit on the Badgers bench and hang out in the locker room.
But Connor Cox has a cool job that allows him to do just that.
"I've been watching Badger hockey forever, and it was just one of those things that I was like, 'I just really want to be part of this,'" said Cox.
The Eagle River native and Northland Pines grad is a student manager for the Wisconsin's men's ice hockey team.
He doesn't wear a jersey, but as a manager, he gets to spend plenty of time with standout players like Trent Frederic and Luke Kunin.
Those are some of the perks of being the Badgers student manager.
"They're all really cool guys but, because they're always so secluded with the hockey team, it's hard to ever see them on campus or anything, so actually being with them is really nice," Cox said. "I've made a lot of good friends."
Connor's been no stranger to the game growing up. He played for Pines in high school, and his dad, Dave, is currently the Eagles head coach.
"[For my family,] you're always watching hockey, playing hockey, coaching hockey, everything's just hockey," said Cox.
That understanding of the sport is one of the biggest reasons that head equipment manager Nate LaPoint added Connor to his staff.
"One of the big draws to him is that he knows the game of hockey, and it allows him to be able to jump right into things I'm doing in the equipment room and understand skates and sticks and helmets. So it's a big asset to have," said LaPoint.
Connor has thrived in his behind-the-scenes role with the Badgers. But there is one thing that sometimes makes his job difficult.
"Not being able to play," he said. "I sit here every single day and watch them play, and I just have to kind of watch. It's tough to go from playing almost every single day in high school to this."
Even though he's not on the ice himself, Connor knows he has a good gig. It's one that sometimes makes his dad a little jealous.
"My dad was pretty pumped because he's been a Badger hockey fan forever," said Cox. "He says, 'Wow that's really sweet, I'm really jealous,' you know because it's a good job. It's a really good job."
It's safe to say Connor probably isn't quitting that job any time soon.
The Badgers will play the winner of Ohio State and Michigan State on Friday in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.