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Back at camp: Packers open 1st day with tradition

Jul. 26, 2013
 
Fans react to first day of training camp
Fans react to first day of training camp: The first day of Packers training camp brought cool weather and a little rain, but it did not deter hundreds of fans from coming to Ray Nitschke Field to watch the team practice. (July 26, 2013)
Green Bay Packers quarterback Graham Harrell rides a bike from practice after the first day of training camp at Ray Nitschke Field in Green Bay on Friday. / Lukas Keapproth/Press-Gazette Media

Training camp practice

When: 8:20 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Ray Nitschke Field with good weather

Live broadcast

Press-Gazette Media’s Packers beat reporters will give some insight into what fans can expect at training camp each day with a live broadcast at 8 a.m. called “Camp Insiders Live” online at greenbaypressgazette.com.

Upcoming training camp activities

• Today – Packers 5K Run at Lambeau Field, 6:30 p.m.

More

The bikes. The kids. The ritual.

It’s Packers training camp. And it’s back.

Despite Friday’s gloomy weather, fans turned out for the kickoff of the summer practice season for the Green Bay Packers. The team will practice through Aug. 28 and preseason games start Aug. 9 against the Arizona Cardinals.

The tradition of players riding children’s bikes from Lambeau Field to the practice fields started during head coach Vince Lombardi’s tenure as the head coach in the 1960s. He saw it as a way for the players to interact with the fans; rookies and first-year players learn about the tradition.

Five-year-old Clay Yaeso got second-year inside linebacker Terrell Manning to ride his bike from Ray Nitschke Field across the street to Lambeau Field after practice.

Clay came to training camp with his 8-year-old brother Jason and his mom, Jody Yaeso, who said she has a personal connection to the team through her great-grandfather James Francois.

“My great-grandfather played for the original team and my husband grew up in Ashwaubenon,” the 43-year-old Yaeso said. “So he used to ride his bike and he had David Whitehurst as a player so he wanted our boys to have the experience.”

During Friday morning’s practice, the stands by the field filled up quickly so many people were standing by the fence. That was good enough for Terrie Herro, who donned her bright green Donald Driver jersey.

Herro’s two children, who live in Arizona, surprised herin March when they told her they were taking her to training camp for a birthday present; she turns 60 on Saturday. She brought along her dog Shadow for the trip and had a full weekend planned.

“We’re going through the Hall of Fame today, we went on the stadium tour yesterday and we’re going to Donald Driver Drive so I can hang from the sign,” Herro said Friday.

Many parents brought their children to training camp on Friday.

Green Bay resident Joshua Starner brought his son Brayden, who will turn 2 on Sunday, to Friday’s practice for his first Packers experience. Starner said the best part of training camp is being so close to the players because “when you’re in the stadium you’re not as close to them and you can’t see and hear them.”

Gerene Thom’s three sons held signs to catch the attention of their favorite players to pick their bikes.

“I think when you get (to be) their consistent rider it’s just nice to get to know them a little bit,” Thom said. “B.J. Coleman was great with our son, he gave him some cool advice about keeping a short memory if you’re going to be an athlete and just some really nice things that they learned from the players just by talking to them.”

-avaldez@pressgazettemedia.com and follow her on Twitter @A_N_Valdez.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
15%
576 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
23%
856 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
27%
1017 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
34%
1271 votes

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

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