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Upper Peninsula Packers fans get visit on Day 4 of Tailgate Tour

Packers deliver inspiring messages to students & fans 

2023 Packers Tailgate Tour
2023 Packers Tailgate Tour

Ashland High School received a return visit Friday morning, this time with a focus on the 600 students in attendance with a message on the importance of mental toughness and grit.

Evan Smith, whose own compelling NFL start as an undrafted free agent exemplified hard work and dedication, shared his insight.

"Mental toughness and grit are one in the same in many respects," Smith said. "It doesn't matter where you start, it's what you do with your opportunity. Persevering through those challenging situations. That's grit."

Per custom on the school visits, the students had the opportunity to ask questions, which drew the Tour's second request for Aaron Jones to participate in a Be Real post. He happily obliged.

Clinton-Dix, in answering a question about his source of motivation when it comes to working out, said, "It's a mindset. You need to set a goal and then see yourself achieving them each and every week. Stay at it and stay committed to it.

While the Upper Peninsula of Michigan may be across the border, Packers fans exist there in large numbers, especially at Ironwood Luther L Wright K-12 School, where the Tailgate Tour visited midmorning with about 700 students.

Members of the tour were impressed with the vintage school, which is nearly 100 years old, especially the John Krznarich Gym. It oozed history and elicited a remark from Mark Murphy.

"I don't know how many of you are familiar with the movie, 'Hoosiers,' but this feels just like it," he said.

The players spoke to students about the importance of ambition and dreaming big, and congratulated the school on their RISE (Respect, Integrity, Safety and Excellence) Program that began this year.

A donation of $10,000 was made to the school in honor of the Play 60 program.

The Packers Tailgate Tour spoke to students at Ironwood K-12 School before touring the Stormy Kromer facility and meeting with employees.

After making lifelong friends with the Red Devils at the school, the Tour made its way to the headquarters of a company that, like the Packers, has an iconic brand with a history that dates to the early 1900s, Stormy Kromer.

The members of the Tour were told the story of George "Stormy" Kromer, a semi-pro baseball player and railroad engineer who continuously lost his hats when he took the train. His wife sewed an ear band on his baseball cap to keep the hat on and that design became the cornerstone of the brand that has thrived since 1903.

Bob Jacquart, one of the owners, proudly toured the Packers group through the operation and spoke of the company values – innovation, hard work and integrity – while introducing them to his team. The upper midwestern spirit of independence and grit was on full display.

Eddie Lacy made his second Willy Wonka reference of the trip. After Evan Smith demonstrated his knowledge about a shrink wrap machine, Lacy said that it made him think of the moment in the movie when Mike gets shrunk down by WonkaVision.

Members of the Tour made some purchases in the retail store, with Evan Smith particularly enjoying the prospects of wearing a number of items.

"I will wear this all fall," he said as he tried on a traditional flannel. "This will be perfect."

The beautiful spring day in Wisconsin's Northwoods continued to treat the Tour members as they enjoyed a hearty lunch at Bad Bones BBQ on the deck overlooking Little Muskie Lake outside Arbor Vitae.

A little food coma set in on the motor coach afterward as Lacy appeared to be getting ready to nap.

"This is a pre-nap," he explained. "When I get to the hotel it'll turn into a full nap."

"Nap?" asked Tony Fisher, incredulously. "You guys are soft. Why do you need a nap? You didn't have two-a-days (practices during training camp)."

Aaron Jones took offense and responded by saying, "Don't be calling us soft because they changed the rules."

Elgton Jenkins also defended current practices and took his own shot.

"Why did you need two-a-days?" he said with a smile.

After stopping at the World's Largest Penny in Woodruff, the group enjoyed some ice cream at Kilwins in downtown Minocqua and Eddie Lacy had the most interesting combination of flavors: Superman and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.

"Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough is my favorite," explained Lacy, "but I was attracted to the colors of the Superman. It was an interesting combination at first, with maybe a little too much sweetness, but when the flavors mixed together more, it was good."

A dressed-up hangar at Lakeland Aviation outside Minocqua was the site of the evening event, a Great Futures benefit in honor of the Boys and Girls Club of the Northwoods. The Packers presented a $20,000 donation, which was augmented by a $4,000 donation by Associated Bank, to support the Club's mission to empower all youth, especially those who it the most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens.

"I've never been in an event like that," said Davon House about unique setting. "It was awesome."

"I'm not a car guy, but seeing those old cars was cool," he added about the VIP event in an adjacent hangar featuring vintage automobiles from the 1930s.

Smith also enjoyed the opportunity to see the vehicles up close.

"I'm a big car buff, particularly these cars from this era," he said. "The lines on these cars are so cool."

During the question-and-answer session of the event, Jenkins revealed his preference of run blocking over pass blocking.

"It gives me the feel that I'm in control of the game," he said.

Angela Shields, the club director, for the Boys and Girls Club, thanked everyone for their support.

"Thank you so much for coming. Your support tonight allows us to help our families in the area. It makes a huge difference," she said.

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