|@St. Norbert August 2007 - Packers 50th year at St. Norbert||St. Norbert College|
The Rev. Dennis Burke, O.Praem., and legendary Packer coach Vince Lombardi on the steps of Sensenbrenner Hall.
The Rev. James Baraniak, O.Praem., and current Packer coach Mike McCarthy revisit the same scene on the 50th anniversary of training camp.
Packers 50th year at St. Norbert
Legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi attended and served Mass in the chapel at Sensenbrenner Hall during the early years of the team’s training camp at St. Norbert College. Fast-forward 50 years to find head coach Mike McCarthy joining the St. Norbert College students in worship at Old St. Joseph Church most Sunday nights.
It’s safe to say the relationship between the Packers and St. Norbert College has stood the test of time. In fact, it’s the longest-standing training camp relationship in the NFL.
The Packers checked in at St. Norbert on July 26 for this year’s camp and will be on campus until Aug. 17. For a complete rundown of their practice schedule and more, go to www.packerstrainingcamp.com.
“I think this college is special,” said McCarthy. “Growing up as a Catholic, it’s something you’re definitely attracted to, you migrate too. And then you have the significance of coach Lombardi and his participation. It’s a neat place.”
Hosting the Pack
The College doesn’t host any on-field activities, but it does serve as the team base for all living arrangements, transportation and most meals.
“The St. Norbert College community is very proud to begin our 50th year of hosting the Green Bay Packers Training Camp. I think it is special that our relationship is the longest of any NFL training camp and represents the sense of community we share,” said Matthew Doyle (Dining Services), whose staff keeps the Packers comfortable during their stay.
A little history
Russ Bogda, then president of the Packers, and head coach Lyle Blackburn first approached St. Norbert in the spring of 1957. At the time the Packers were training at UW-Stevens Point.
In 1958, coach Scooter McLean and his staff moved the summer camp closer to home when they adopted St. Norbert as their summer quarters. Players were housed in Sensenbrenner, various classrooms were used for training sessions and the team ate in the Burke Hall dining facilities.
Over the half-century since, various halls have been used, but the string of successive summers at St. Norbert College has never been broken.
The first pre-season at St. Norbert College coincided with the first Packers schedule of games at the present Lambeau Field. In 1959, newly appointed head coach Vincent Lombardi confirmed the summer camp location with the Rev. Dennis Burke, O.Praem., then College president.
Succeeding coaches and Packers presidents over the years have found the facilities to their liking and the relationship between the two communities continues strong on a personal level, too. Just as Lombardi and Burke became friends, McCarthy and the Rev. James Baraniak, O.Praem. ’88, pastor of Old St. Joseph Church and Packers chaplain, now value their own friendship.
McCarthy said, “I met Fr. Jim when I was here in 1999 [as quarterbacks coach] so I struck up a friendship with him then. He told me about the students’ Mass. It’s the kind of Mass you like to go too. It’s a little different than the normal Sunday service.”
The Green Bay Packers have won more championships—12—than any other team in National Football League history.
Could it be heavenly intervention?