Cheesehead Origins: Sarah Kelliher’s Fan Story, and How a Knee Injury Finally Got Her to Lambeau

Sarah Kelliher grew up a Florida-based Packer fan thanks to her Wisconsin lineage.

Welcome to Cheesehead Origins, an offseason series geared toward showcasing Packer fans with interesting fandom origin stories! CheeseheadTV is devoted to Packer fans worldwide, and we want to hear (and share) your stories. 

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One of the really cool things about the Green Bay Packers fandom is that the team is so old it has organically grown its fanbase all over the nation. People grew up in Wisconsin, cheered for the Packers, entered adulthood, moved elsewhere and then raised their kids in the fandom. With 100-plus years of history, this cycle has repeated for multiple generations.

Sarah Kelliher, who many of you know for her Cheesehead TV game recaps and her spot on the Wednesday Pack-a-Day Podcast, is a great example of someone who was born into the fandom despite not living anywhere near Wisconsin.

“Becoming a Packers fan was not really a choice for me; it was something I was just born into,” she said. “My dad and his whole side of the family are from Wisconsin (Waukesha, specifically), so they are huge Wisconsin everything fans: Packers, Badgers Bucks, the list goes on.”

Today, Sarah works in public relations and works with clients in a wide range of industries, including travel, tourism, gaming, nonprofit, senior living, utility, higher education and more. She’s an avid violinist and plays in her local orchestra.

But her Packers fandom has been a constant since birth, to the point where many of her earliest memories involve the team.

“When I was a kid, I was the one in Green Bay onesies and t-shirts,” she said. “My family has always been very sports-oriented, and growing up in my household watching and playing sports with my dad, mom and brother was pretty much a daily occurrence.”

Sarah credits her father with teaching her the game, and praised him for his patience in helping her learn things while she was a young kid so she could understand what she was watching. She also was influenced by her older brother, who she idolized from a young age. 

“I thought everything he did was the coolest thing ever and I wanted to be just like him,” she said. “So, when he started to take an interest in watching football, so did I and it just kind of stuck.”

In elementary school, Sarah got invested in the game and began watching with her father and brother on the weekends. This led to her starting to collect trading cards, playing Madden and learning more about the players around the league. 

“When Brett Favre announced his retirement, I was almost in tears and brought my Brett Favre trading card to proudly display on my elementary school desk so everyone would know I was a Packer fan,” she recalled. 

Even being thousands of miles from the Packer homeland, Sarah was still introduced to the fandom’s rivalries at an early age.

“My favorite teacher growing up was from Illinois and would always joke with me about how she was a Bears fan. I quickly realized that being a Packers fan, and really just a sports fan in general, was a connection point in life and I really just continued to lean into that.”

Though just a child, she understood the pride and passion that comes with being a Green Bay Packers fan, and continues to feel that sense of pride every time she “carries the G” on her attire.

Living in Florida, the opportunities to get to Lambeau Field are few and far between, but she has made the pilgrimage four times so far. Her family would do their best to see the Packers play in person when they played a Florida team, but it took a while for the group to be able to make it up to Green Bay together, what with the hectic schedule that comes with having a young family.

Eventually, though, Sarah’s family did manage to get to Lambeau Field together. Unfortunately, it took an injury to make it happen.

“Growing up I was a huge soccer player,” Sarah said. “I played competitively and traveled all around the state and east coast for tournaments. I was captain of my high school team for two years as well.”

During Sarah’s junior year she tore her ACL at a college recruitment tournament in North Carolina and had to miss the entirety of the travel and high school seasons that year. Her recovery also forced her to miss a Packer game in Tampa just a few weeks after her surgery.

It was a tough year for Sarah. While she was sidelined with her injury, her high school team went on a big run and won the state championship for the first time in school history–without her being able to suit up. 

“It was a rough time,” Sarah said. “So, my dad made a deal with me that if I came back and helped our high school team win a second consecutive state championship, he’d take the whole family to Lambeau Field the next year. He should’ve known what he was getting himself into.”

Less than a year later, her team knocked off one of the nation’s highest-ranked teams on its way to that second straight state title. Sarah even scored a goal in the championship game!

A year later the Kelliher family made the voyage to Green Bay for the first time. It was unfortunately the week after Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone in Minnesota, but Sarah still had an incredible experience.

“We did the full stadium tour, and walking in and seeing the field in-person for the first time sent chills down my spine,” she said. “I’ll never forget it. Experiencing the town was awesome, too; everyone was so nice. And I spent way too much money at the Pro Shop. Although the Packers lost, it was still a dream come true to go.”

Sarah has been back several times since then. Perhaps the highlight was when she attended the Packers/Bears game in the opening night of the 2018 season.

When Rodgers went down in the first half with the knee injury, Sarah felt certain her presence jinxed Rodgers and that she’d never actually get to see him play a full game at Lambeau. But of course, we all remember what happened after that.

“Watching that comeback with my own eyes was something I’ll never forget,” she said. “I was hugging and crying with people I didn’t even know! It was exhilarating.”

It also happened to be Sarah’s first postgame recap assignment with Cheesehead TV, and she wrote it in the car on a WiFi hotspot while still feeling the adrenaline coursing through her.

Sarah has also been able to bring her boyfriend of four years (also a Packer fan) to Lambeau a couple times, which has been special. He’s made it even easier for her to be a fan in a far-away state. But even when she’s out in public wearing Packer gear, Sarah says she’ll usually get at least one “Go Pack Go!”

Sarah’s passionate sports fandom led her to get involved at the University of Central Florida covering the school’s athletics. After she covered the football team for a year she decided she wanted to try writing about the Packers and the NFL. On a whim she reached out to the Cheesehead TV contact email to introduce herself and share some writing samples, and heard back from Aaron Nagler just a couple hours later, who connected her with “Jersey” Al Bracco.

During that same season, Andy Herman started the Pack-a-Day Podcast. He had her on as a guest one week to preview the Packers’ game against the 49ers, and she thought it went really well. 

“I told Andy if he ever needed help with the podcast to let me know,” she said. “He said he was still building out some teams and would love to have me onboard.”

Just a couple weeks later, Sarah was on a Google Hangout with Dusty Evely and Steve Perhach for the first time. 

“Now it’s hard to imagine my life without my crazy ‘Packer uncles!’” she said. “I’m so grateful we got paired together. We’ve grown so close, and I love them both dearly.”

Sarah encourages anyone else with the same passion for the Packers with an interest in writing or podcasting to just go for it.

“You never know where it could take you or who you could meet,” she said. “It’s hard to believe an email I sent four years ago changed my life so much. I’ve improved as a writer, which helped me land my full-time job. I’ve made amazing friends and connected with people all around the world because we share the same love for the Packers. That’s really special and something I’ll never take for granted.”
 

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Huge thank you to Sarah for participating in this week’s edition of Cheesehead Origins! Remember that you can follow her on Twitter at @sarahkelliher4. 

Next week: our youngest guest yet, someone too young to have any memory of the Brett Favre era in Green Bay (or even Minnesota). See you then!

 

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Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (3)

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mrtundra's picture

March 31, 2022 at 07:50 am

GO PACK, GO!!!

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Galacticat's picture

March 31, 2022 at 02:46 pm

All the Pack-a-Day podcasters do a great job, but Sarah is my favorite. She is such a gifted communicator, with a great positive attitude that is so rare in this world of online toxicity. Funny and entertaining to boot, but also so sincere and earnest. She’s the salt of the earth and a great Packer superfan! Thank you Sarah for representing Packer Nation the way you do, you are amazing.

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SarahKelliher's picture

March 31, 2022 at 05:33 pm

This is incredibly kind! Thank you so much! This made my day. :)

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