Playing high school football on Lambeau Field created life-long fan

Bon Karls

As a young boy, Wayne Karls grew up idolizing the Green Bay Packers. Living in the city of Green Bay inspired every kid far and wide to want to play for the Green Bay Packers. There had never been a team like this sort coming out of a small town like Green Bay. Being a Green Bay native, he was lucky to play on Lambeau Field throughout his high school years. Now, he says that those moments have shaped his love for the game. Even today, his love for the team is still present, especially on Sundays.


Wayne Karls is a Packers fan with his long-time favorite player Bart Starr. © 2021 Bon Karls

My name is Wayne Karls. I was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin in 1960. I was the middle child, living with my two parents, Mom and Dad, my younger brother Joe, and my older siblings, Debbie and Steve.

At the time, the Green Bay Packers were just gaining notoriety in the small world of the National Football League. But for Green Bay, it was one of the biggest things to ever happen for the city and as the years went on, the notice of the City of Green Bay grew around the idea of the Green Bay Packers.

In the 1960’s, it was just about the beginning of the television era. Before that people would gather around the radio for entertainment and listen to games and listen to the Green Bay Packers take on different teams around the country on the radio. But in the 1960’s you had TV. But back then the biggest games to listen to were against the Chicago Bears, that was the biggest rivalry and I think it had been since the early 1900’s.

My Mom and Dad had a black and white square television and on Sundays, we would sit around the TV and watch the Green Bay Packers and those were some of the most memorable childhood memories I had.

Throughout the decade the Packers improved along with the National Football League. Everything grew up in the 1960’s. In 1967, they made it to the first super bowl it was the NFL championship they called it at the time. My family traveled to my Uncle Tom and Aunt Marie’s house and for the first time ever, I was able to watch the Green Bay Packers on a colored TV and that day, the Packers played the Kansas City Chiefs and it was the first time I was able to see the bright colors. The red you know, Chief helmets and the Gold Packer helmets. I was nervous for the game, but I knew we had great players.

As the game went on, Bart Starr, big names like Bart Starr, Herb Adderley, Ray Nitchke carried Vince Lombardi and the City of Green Bay on their backs. We ended up winning with authority 35-10 against the Kansa City Chiefs.

After the game, the City of Green Bay was the talk of the country really. Every kid in the city wanted to be a Packer you know, and how could you not. All they were doing was winning. The influence they had was huge. It was unmistakable.

The next year, the Packers went on to win another super bowl, that’s two in a row. What a great couple of years that was.

Fast forward to high school, I was able to attend Green Bay West High School. I had been playing football, you know, in the backyard as a kid all my life with the neighborhood kids, but times like back then they aren’t like now where you play organized sports so young nowadays. The first real football, tackle football that I played started was when I was a freshman in high school.

As a freshman, you didn’t make varsity, but for the following three years I was able to play running back for the varsity team, and what a privilege that was.

Because of the growth that Green Bay had been experiencing due to the Packer’s success, more and more high schools were popping up all around the city like Green Bay Prebel on the East side and Notre Dame Academy on the Westside. These high schools were building football stadiums all around the city. Being at Green Bay West High was one of the best things to happen if you were a Packer fan really at that time because Green Bay West was grandfathered into the city, they did not have to build a football stadium. In fact, every Friday night we played at home, our football team was able to play on Lambeau field.

The frozen tundra was my home field.

For three years, I was able to run the ball you know, on the green luscious grass across the white painted lines. The same grass that the Bart Starr stepped foot on. The same sideline that Vince Lombardi coached his team to super bowls on. The same field Ray Nitchke made the best tackles on.

The memories on that field, strapping on my chin strap, running the ball into the end zone, are all memories I will hold on to forever.


Karls now lives in Hudson, Wisconsin. He does his best to make it to at least one game a year and see Lambeau field once more.