First off, I’d like to say how excited I am to be a part of this project with Travel Wisconsin. Being a Wisconsin native, and having been fortunate enough to have played collegiately at the University of Wisconsin - Madison and professionally with the Green Bay Packers for my entire career, I have had the opportunity to experience some of the best activities and attractions our state has to offer and was pumped when Wisconsin approached me with this idea. I look forward to sharing some of my most memorable experiences with you, the readers. I want to cover everything from my favorite fish fries, to playing golf at some of the nation’s most pristine courses that are right here in our backyard. I want to tell you about some of the great entertainment venues we have here and even some of the best vacation spots for you and your families.
When I thought about what city should kick off this blog, it was definitely a difficult decision because there were so many logical choices. When I boiled it down it made sense to start this blog where it all started for me: my hometown, Auburndale.
I love going back to Auburndale during my free time; it is where my roots are, it is the place that is ultimately the most familiar for me. Auburndale is a place where I learned about and developed the principles of dedication and loyalty, and when I look back, I realize how much that has helped me get to where I am today. Growing up on a farm and having to get up at 5:30 every morning taught me what hard work is all about. Beyond that, I think about the loyalty I received from the community and the support they gave me in everything I did growing up. Some people may not know this, but football wasn’t my only sport when I was younger. Any free moment I had on the farm was spent dueling in a game of wiffle ball with my brothers, Craig and Patrick, or the basketball court, and man, did we have some battles out there. I also played basketball at Auburndale high school and it wasn’t uncommon to see the entire community at our games cheering us on. We had outstanding teams, with great guys like Kyle Stoffel, Craig Brandl, T.J. Schmitt, Scott Kusta and Justin Raab, and our coach, Tim Anderson, is someone whose influence sticks with me to this day. We went to the state championship twice and only lost two games during our final two years together. It’s not something I talk about often, but that support, ended up triggering me to play football at the University of Wisconsin. I realized what athletics meant to people in this state and that if the support was so enthusiastic even at that level, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday afternoons in the fall. But I better quit while I’m ahead because I need to save that for my Madison entry here in a few weeks. :-)
For now, we’ll circle back to Auburndale. I wish I could spend more time at home, but when I do go back, I have a great time with my family and friends. To this day, some of my best friends are people that I went to high school with. When you are together with some of the guys you started playing sports with in fifth grade through the end of your high school graduation, they are going to know everything about you and that is very important to me. One of the best parts about going home to Auburndale is spending an afternoon catching up with family and friends over a good game of sheepshead at our favorite local bar, T-Bangers. Nothing beats sitting back, having fun, and playing cards in a place that I call home. It was a great place to grow up and I am glad to call Auburndale home.