At least a few people with NMU ties will be watching the Super Bowl with perhaps a more vested interest than fans of either franchise or casual observers drawn more to the ads than the action. Every effort was made to remain objective while putting out feelers for campus angles that would localize this national sporting event. However, it just so happened that each of the responses from the non-randomized sample of three select contacts detailed an NMU-Packer connection.
This lopsided outcome was unintended, according to the CAMPUS editor (who, in the interest of full disclosure, is a Wisconsin native and found the green-gold Wildcat color scheme a major selling point during her NMU job interview). Whether it’s a case of a flawed methodology fueled by newsletter deadline pressure, Green Bay’s proximity and the extension of Packer Country to the U.P. or Steeler loyalists staying under the radar pending Sunday’s final score, we want to at least give the illusion of balance. Relevant NMU-Steeler connections may be submitted here and will be added to this story upon receipt, if appropriate (or as space after the Packers coverage allows—whichever is most restrictive). Meanwhile, here are some NMU-Packer angles leading up to the big game:
▪Wally Niebauer (CAPS, above) holds a single share of Packer stock, making him a proud part-owner of the team. Green Bay Packers Inc. is a publicly-owned, non-profit corporation—the only such business structure in the league. Most franchises in this era of free agency and the NFL salary cap are owned by wealthy individuals (e.g. Jerry Jones in Dallas), partnerships or private companies. Niebauer is one of 112,158 stockholders, according to the Packers website. He purchased his share for about $100 in 1997—the most recent stock sale and one of four over the team’s history.
“The organization was short on cash; there’s no deep-pocket owner,” he said. “So they issued this stock to raise money. It’s essentially worthless to your investment portfolio because you don’t earn any dividends, but you get the satisfaction of being a part-owner of the Packers and attend the yearly shareholder meetings at Lambeau Field. The first one I attended was in 1998. Thousands of people showed up.
“The meetings are fun. There’s a feeling of community. They also give an update on the status of the organization and lay out the whole financial situation. Man alive!—you should see how important concessions are to the bottom line. The Packers operate on what other pro teams would consider a shoestring. It’s a mystery to everyone how they pull it off. I don’t know if it’s because of where Packer Country is and the small-market, us-against-the-world mentality of ‘We can do this’ or what. It’s a goofy arrangement and shouldn’t have happened, but it works.”
The other perks of being a shareholder include special mailings and free T-shirts proclaiming Packer ownership.
A native of Phillips, Wis., Niebauer said he learned football from his mother and Vince Lombardi. Aside from the obligatory gold cheesehead, he has two prized possessions in his office. One is a jar of Packer “Paydirt” (above) from the 2001-03 Lambeau Field renovation. “It’s nice to know I own a piece of the field that stars like Ray Nitschke and Don Hutson played on,” he said. The other is an oversized pin that features a 1961 team picture (right). “That was from my first game at Lambeau when I was a kid. My brother and I were allowed to take home one souvenir and I wanted the pin. I had someone in my office for a campus visit and he looked at my bulletin board and said, ‘Where did you get that?!’ He told me it would probably be worth about $2,000 now and wondered if I wanted to sell it. I said no.”
You can bet Niebauer and his “Pack Rats” group will be glued to the television on Sunday.
▪Jeff Kleinschmidt (USOEC) is a Green Bay Packers season ticket holder. That automatically entered him in a computer-generated, random drawing for the option to purchase two Super Bowl tickets (each person gets one entry regardless of how many seats they own). Kleinschmidt was not selected this time, but he did soak up the New Orleans atmosphere during the team’s last Super Bowl win in 1997. He did not attend the game himself, instead allowing his son and dad to share the experience. Kleinschmidt had another chance the following year when the Packers lost to Denver in their quest for back-to-back titles. He decided not to make the trip and sold his tickets to a former NMU employee.
Packers season tickets are highly coveted and extremely difficult to obtain. According to the Packers website, “Lambeau Field has been sold out on a season ticket basis since 1960 and we've been accumulating names on our legendary season ticket waiting list ever since.” That legendary list reportedly exceeds 83,000 names. With high renewal rates among current holders, the ability to transfer seats within families and fewer than 100 tickets on average turning over each year, the wait could last decades (if it ends at all). Kleinschmidt’s “in” was through his mom and aunt.
“They bought season tickets for their husbands—my dad and uncle—way back in 1957,” he said. “The men had seats next to each other for more than 40 years. As they got older and their health began to deteriorate, they both transferred their tickets to me.”
▪Heather Dermyer, Ph.D., a one-time NMU student and diving team member who is now a health psychologist in Marquette, has shared the mind-body performance training program she developed with U.S. Olympic Education Center athletes and the Wildcat football team. Now she’s been invited to bring her program to Green Bay. Dermyer gave a presentation at a Packers-sponsored sports and society conference at St. Norbert College in DePere last May. She was able to reserve some time with Green Bay’s strength and conditioning coaches to discuss her approach.
“They were impressed and decided to create a space for me within the strength and conditioning program, beginning with off-season training this spring,” said Dermyer. “I really lucked out in finding a unique niche because they have dozens of people calling to pitch equipment or ideas to improve player performance. I’ve been hired on a part-time contractual basis to start, while continuing my work in Marquette."
Her mind-body performance program combines yoga, stretching, meditation, deep breathing, sports psychology and visualization. The latter involves breaking down each process, sequence or action into small segments and visualizing each movement in great detail.
“It’s about getting into all of the body’s senses and seeing things through to successful outcomes," she said. "I’m surprised how many athletes at elite levels have not been trained in visualization. You hear about it often, but it’s not implemented in many programs. From my perspective, it’s an important aspect of training and mental toughness.
"Mind-body performance training is an evidence-based program. Multiple clinical trials have been conducted demonstrating its efficacy in reducing stress, anxiety and pain while increasing flexibility, balance and the ability to focus. It is the only program supported by extensive research in the country."
Dermyer also teaches fitness classes for NMU Recreational Sports.