Packer’s players love connecting with their fans. They've been leaping into the bleachers at Lambeau Field sharing their joy after a touchdown for over 25 years now. But not everyone is aware that for nearly 50 years players have been creating forever fans by connecting with children, by simply borrowing their bikes for a quick ride to training camp.
Day one of Packers training camp has drawn one of the largest gatherings in training camp history. But it’s the kids who are truly the ones who won't forget it. Alyse Lukaszewicz of West Bend, Wisconsin says it’s a tradition she’s partaken in with her family since she was about 3-years-old.
"I like being able to tell my friends that a Packers player rode my bike and being able to meet them and talk with them it's always a lot of fun," says Lukaszewicz.
Since at least 1969 Packers players have been honoring the tradition of kids borrowing their bikes to players so they can get to training camp. Players do so by choosing a kid and their bike in Lambeau Field's parking lot, to bring them about a quarter of a mile to Ray Nitschke Field where they train. Most of the players don’t quite fit on the bikes but they make a go of it anyway, and create memories along the way.
"It's something that the other teams don't do. So it's like special here," says Amber Powalisz of Milwaukee who’s shared her bike with Packers players since she was a kid.
These kids though, they know they need to put in the work to get chosen. And the ones lucky enough to give a Packers player a ride say first timers to the experience should take a tip or two from them, on how to get picked.
"I woke up at 3AM and we tried to get out of the house by 4. I got to sleep in the car ride,” says Dakota Powalisz who’s learning the ropes from his older sister.
"Get here early and have a good bike. Maybe decorated or something. And then cheer. Cheer a lot and just wave your hands and they'll probably pick you," adds Powalisz.
Coming into the last weekend in July, there’s still about another dozen opportunities to give a Packers player a ride. Just make sure you show up a bit early, and don’t forget to deck out your bike in hopes of catching a professional athlete’s eye.