Big game dream come true for Packers fans in Steelers country
2011-02-04 / Super Week / Front Page
By SHEILA BOUGHNER Staff writer
The Rev. John Malthaner, headmaster at
Venango Catholic High School and pastor
at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in
Siverly, says he became a Packers fan
after watching Bart Starr score the winning
touchdown in the 1967 NFL championship
game. The game has gone down in NFL
lore as the "Ice Bowl." By Jerry Sowden
Hard though it may be to fathom — here in the land of black and gold— there are some among us who don't want the Steelers to win on Sunday.
Some of them are more Steelers-haters than Packers-lovers.
But others are long-time Packers fans in Steelers Country, and their Super Bowl dream has come true with Sunday's matchup.
Father John Malthaner, headmaster at Venango Catholic High School and pastor at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Siverly, has been a Packers fan most of his life.
"I can remember vividly the moment I became a Packers fan," he said.
Bob Witherup of Franklin, a longtime diehard Green Bay Packers fan, posed beside the statue honoring legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi on a trip to Lambeau Field. The big Packers flag in Witherup's yard is a familiar sight to anyone who passes by his home on Pittsburgh Road. He was about 8 or 9 years old, and was watching the "Ice Bowl" on television with his family.
In that famed NFL Championship game in Green Bay in December 1967, Bart Starr scored the winning touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys and put the Packers in the Super Bowl against the Raiders.
"I can even remember the little stool I was sitting on," Malthaner said.
The moment Starr went over the line was the moment Malthaner became a lifelong Packers fan. He turned to his father and said Green Bay was the team he would root for all his life.
And he has.
Jerry and Linda Beichner of Leeper have made loyal Steelers fans of their old English sheep dogs, Willow and Spencer.The 4-year-old pair work together to hold up their Terrible Towel while Willow gives out a cheer. Daily fan photo pick "It's a tremendous experience to go to Lambeau Field," he said. "They are blue-collar and down-toearth people, like Pittsburgh people. They are two smallmarket towns, but the economics of football allows small teams to compete."
When Lambeau Field did renovations, Malthaner bought a 12-by-12 inch brick with his name on it. On his next trip to a Packers game, he located his brick.
A friend of his from seminary, who is now with the Diocese of Green Bay, was placed on the waiting list for Packers season ticket when he was born. When he finally got them, he was 52, Malthaner said.
Malthaner wears his Green Bay colors proudly.
"The fans around here have been really good. They kid me a lot. But they are a lot of fun to be around. Even at Giant Eagle, they kid me. But nobody's been rude," he said.
"There is a lot of history in this Super Bowl," he said. "A lot of people don't realize, Green Bay has 12 NFL titles."
He said his favorite player is Donald Driver, the star wide receiver in his 12th year out of Alcorn State.
"He smiles and is a happy person. I think he's good for the game," he said.
Malthaner said he would like to see Driver, who is nearing the end of his career, get a Super Bowl ring.
"I also really respect the way Aaron Rodgers has handled the Brett Favre situation," he said.
"I'm sure it will be a pretty good game," he said. But he worried that a lot of Steelers are Super Bowl veterans and no Packers have Super Bowl experience.
He was hesitant to pick a winner.
"I don't want to jinx them," he said. "I think they can play with Pittsburgh. But the Steelers are the Steelers. I never want to make predictions. But I hope the Packers come out on top."
When asked if he is inserting the Packers into his prayers, he admitted he is.
"But only privately," he said.
Wisconsin native hopes Packers get it done
Wisconsin native Dennis Cralley of Franklin and his wife, Jackie, are both big Packers fans.
Dennis said he has been a Packers fan since he was born — in Cedarburg, Wis., "about 25 miles north of Milwaukee and 75 miles from Green Bay."
"We moved here in 1973, so we were here for the (Steelers') glory years of the 1970s, so I became a Steelers fan as well," he said.
"This is my dream Super Bowl," Cralley added. "But I'll be rooting for the Packers."
Jackie isn't sure which team she will be backing.
"I love the Packers. But I also love the Steelers. This is what my husband and I have always wanted," she said of the contest.
She said she will probably wear her Packers shirt covered by a Steelers shirt.
Dennis said they have "played it safe" and found Tshirts featuring both teams.
But when the game starts and those shirts come off, his "true colors" will be green and yellow, he said.
His Packers preference has drawn good-natured ribbing from the Steelers majority.
"Everywhere I go," he said. "I've made it a point to get out every Packers shirt I own. There is constant harassment. But it's friendly harassment. Steelers fans are good fans."
He predicted that if it is a low-scoring game, the Steelers will win. A high-scoring game will go to the Packers, he said.
"But I do believe the Packers will win," he concluded.
Lacie Jacoby of Franklin has also been letting her Packers colors shine for about 15 years.
She said and her best friend, Valerie Knox of Seneca, have been Packers fans since about seventh grade and were the rare Green Bay boosters all through their years at Oil City High School.
When asked why the Packers, she acknowledged, "Honestly, I can't even remember."
But she didn't want to be just another Steelers fan in a sea of black and gold.
Valerie's older brother was a Packers fan, and there was the "cool" factor.
"I thought they (the Packers) were cool, and I thought the cheesehead was cool."
She became a Reggie White fan and wore his jersey all through high school.
As luck would have it, her husband, Nate, is also a Packers fan.
"He's been a Packers fan longer than I have. But I didn't even know it until we had been dating for a while." she said. "He was a Brett Favre fan."
"It takes some boldness to be a Packer fan in Steeler country," she admitted. "So it's really exciting to have my team playing the home team in the Super Bowl. I'm pumped."
She said she takes some ribbing for her football loyalties.
"Oh. my gosh! I get so much flack for that."
But It's "all in good fun," she said.
She said she will "tread lightly on black and gold territory."
But her final words on the game were, "Go, Packers!"
Bobby Witherup of Franklin has Green Bay decals on his truck, a flag in his yard, two cheeseheads, team garb and Packers souvenirs galore.
But he's gone the extra mile to declare his team loyalty, carving a big G in his front yard with a snow blower for any Steelers fans flying by to see.
"The commuter comes right over my house," he said.
"I've been a Packer fan all my life, since the mid-1960s," he said. "The Steelers weren't really good back then, and the Packers were pretty good. They won the first two Super Bowls and had Bart Starr and Vince Lombardi and Jim Taylor."
Most of his family favors Pittsburgh, and his daughter, Nikki, who now lives in Cincinnati, is a "huge Steeler fan," he said.
His wife, Becky, wisely occupies the middle ground.
"I remain neutral," she said.
At the Super Bowl party at work, Witherup said he will be the lone Packers fan.
"They rib me down at work. They decorated my desk with Steeler stuff, so I had to bring Packers stuff in today," he said Thursday.
He said he thinks Green Bay will win.
"They have the better offense and the better quarterback in Aaron Rodgers," he said. "If there are a lot of turnovers, anybody could win. But if the Steelers' center, Pouncey, doesn't play, that hurts Pittsburgh a lot."
Even here at the newspaper, we are harboring a Packers fan, our new Managing Editor Rich Jackson, a Wisconsin native, cheese expert and walking compendium of Packers lore (and other arcane topics). As civilized Steelers fans, we are trying to not hold his origins (or the fact that he is an editor) against him.
But Monday morning is going to be difficult for someone.
Originally published in The Derrick February 4, 2011
VC Featured in Faith Magazine
VC alumni Joseph Janidlo was part of a contingent of seminarians who served Mass with the Pope. Check out the Faith magazine article (pgs 10-12) here.
VC's website launch is featured in the Nov / Dec Faith Magazine! Check out the article on page 28.
- 16 graduate from Venango Catholic
- Golfer Scholarship
- Baseball Field Named
- Margaret Feldman Writing Winners
- VC students to compete in state science competition
- VC inducts 14 into Honor Society
- More graduates, supporters share VC memories
- Special day at VC brings many memories, smiles
- Venango Catholic going strong at 50 while looking toward future
- 50 Year Celebration
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- Lending some helping hands
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- VCHS Names Prom King and Queen
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- Willy Wonka
- VC Students Attend Shakespeare Competition
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- VC 58, West Forest 51
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- Venango Catholic names homecoming king, queen
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- St. Joseph Class of 1961 holds 50-year reunion
- Hawkins takes top spot in tournament
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- Lutz earns academic honors
- VENANGO CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL AWARDED OVER $85,000 IN GRANT FUNDING
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- OC Kiwanis honors scholarship winners, Hugh O'Brian seminar participants
- 15 graduates receive diplomas at VC
- Venango Catholic names top students
- Venango Catholic National Honor Society Inductees
- VC academic team in Hometown High-Q semis
- Venango Catholic Students Participate in Wash Day
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- Fryburg native named commander of Carrier Strike Group Three
- Students do well at English festival
- St. Joseph announces Service Award recipients
- Students Compete, Win at Science Olympiad
- Vikings' Rynd named D-9 boys Player of the Year
- Local stars shine in Kozel all-star contests
- Final 2010-11 Area Girls Basketball Scoring Leaders
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- Former Marble man honored in special Mass
- The streak goes on
- Perfect to the Maxx
- ONE YEAR LATER, VC ALUM RECALLS SERVING MASS FOR THE POPE
- VC CHEERLEADERS TALK TO STUDENTS ABOUT ATHLETIC PARTICIPATION
- Vikings stay perfect
- Venango Catholic remains undefeated
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- STEELERS TOUCH DOWN IN DALLAS
- Vikings slip past Lions
- 17 VC students attend March for Life
- Good Luck Vikings
- Several area players earn all-state honors
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- VC math team places fifth in competition
- AP SCHOLARS
- Friends for Food passes $36,000 mark
- Right on target
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- VC graduate returns from Iraq deployment
- Venango Catholic Names Homecoming King, Queen
- Venango Catholic launches new website
- Vikings open with pair of victories
- VC grad completes sub-internship at Cleveland medical facility
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- 19 receive diplomas at Venango Catholic graduation
- Pragle, Hesdon head KSAC teams
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- OC woman elected to student position for physicians group
- Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark visits school
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