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Kaukauna football player haunted by the ‘Galloping Ghost’: His great grandfather

Galloping Ghost
Posted at 4:50 PM, Sep 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-26 17:50:02-04
  • Kaukauna’s mascot wasn’t always the Ghost. Until the 1920s they were the Tigers.
  • Two tales tell the origin story of the Galloping Ghost – Which is true?
  • A current player, Mitch Verstegen, tells the story of his great grandfather, The Galloping Ghost.

    (The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

The Kaukauna ghosts and the Appleton north lightning take the field on Friday but about a century ago the Kaukauna tigers and the Appleton terrors played in a game that started a tradition for the decades to come. I’m reporter Olivia Acree with the story behind the Galloping Ghost.

Riding horseback across the field at Kaukauna stadium is the current Galloping Ghost, Brynn Reffke, but principal Chris McDaniel tells us she’s just one of a few throughout Kaukauna history.

“The history then really starts from the 20s and it was a Halloween game and it ended up in the newspaper that our running backs were like, ghosts, galloping ghosts through the fog,” said McDaniel.

In the 1940s they took the name to a new level.

“A student actually took a horse on the field to deliver the game ball,” said McDaniel.

McDaniel shared the history here, but there’s a player better suited to tell his family’s story.

“It started with my great grandpa getting a horse from his friend and he asked if he could ride across the field. They called him ‘galloping ghost’ just because he was really fast, and the announcers just kept calling him that, so he thought it'd be cool to get on a horse and deliver the game ball and that's just kind of started,” said Verstegen.

Bill Robach was the first Galloping Ghost and senior right tackle Mitch Verstegen is his grandson.

The tradition stuck but not in the family.

“No, I don't think it look good if I was on a horse or if anyone else was,” said Verstegen.

Though Verstegen keeps his feet on the field while great grandpa holds the Galloping Ghost legacy, he’s happy to share the history.

“People talk about it all the time. It's kind of cool to say it was my great grandpa,” said Verstegen.

Bill Robach passed away in August, but his community and his family are happy to see his legacy kept alive at every home game.

The Ghosts take on the Lightning at Appleton North Friday for our featured showdown game.