Pitt fans invade Whitewater

Sam Mimier
UW-Whitewater junior Sam Mimier will wear his Ben Roethlisberger jersey with pride this Sunday when the Steelers take on the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV. Photo submitted by Mimier.

Samantha Vrabel was born one, while Sam Mimier converted into one.

No matter how they became Pittsburgh Steelers fans, these two UW-Whitewater students are the minorities around campus these days with the Green Bay Packers playing the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV this Sunday.

While Mimier recently became a fan of the black and gold, Vrabel has lived and breathed the team known as the “steel curtain” her entire life.

Her dad was born in Pennsylvania, and according to Vrabel is a “hardcore Steelers fan.”

After he moved to the Chicago area, that love for the Steelers was passed on to his wife, children and extended family.

When she was growing up, Vrabel’s entire family watched every Steelers game together.

Now surrounded by Packers fans almost everywhere she looks, the senior has a decision to make.

Will she watch the game in Whitewater amongst Green Bay fans, or will she watch it with her family in Illinois?

“I haven’t decided yet,” Vrabel said. “I’m just really excited because I know how pumped up a lot of the Packers fans are and it would be great to be one of the only Steelers fans here and see the Steelers win the Super Bowl for the seventh time.”

Vrabel, who grew up in Mundelein, Ill., also said that if the Steelers win their third Super Bowl title in six years she will walk through campus the next day with confidence.

“It would feel so good to wear my [Ben] Roethlisberger jersey,” said Vrabel, who is expected to graduate in May with a business marketing degree.

Mimier, a junior marketing major, said he would do the same thing as Vrabel.

“I’m for sure going to wear Steelers stuff the whole week after, if they do win,” Mimier said. “I’ll be just sitting in Steelers stuff and everyone will be like, ‘Why? Why is that kid here right now?’”

However, unlike Vrabel, Mimier was not raised a Steelers fan.

In fact, Mimier was a Packers fan growing up but said he switched over to the Steelers when the entire Brett Favre saga was taking place.

“I got sick of the Favre hype during that whole era, and I just gave up on the Packers,” said Mimier, who is originally from Appleton, Wis., a city just 40 minutes southwest of Green Bay.

He added that around that time, he started to like Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis (who is now retired).

For Mimier, the affection for Bettis turned into a fondness for the entire Steelers organization.

Also unlike Vrabel’s family, Mimier’s family is a bit more divided on their NFL allegiances.

Mimier said his mom is a Packers fan, but his dad is a Vikings fan.

“It’s super-divided,” Mimier said about his household during the football season. “[My mom] texted me as soon as [the Steelers advanced] saying we have to be nice to each other for this game. I was just like, ‘Ok mom.’ I don’t think I’ll watch it with her, but I’m sure she’ll be texting me.”

Mimier, who plans on watching the game at his house in Whitewater amongst Packers and Bears fans, said he doesn’t mind being the lone Steelers fan.

As the game has approached, both Mimier and Vrabel have noticed a change in UW-Whitewater students who are Packers fans.

“It’s funny in classes and such. [Packers fans] didn’t hate the Steelers a week or two ago,” Mimier said. “But now most people hate them all of a sudden. [Pittsburgh] used to be a respectable team. Now, it went from respectable to a hate thing, like it’s a rivalry.”

Vrabel said she has similar experiences. 

“When I wore my Steelers jersey before, people were only concerned about the Bears fans,” Vrabel said.  “But now that the Packers are playing the Steelers in the Super Bowl, I know that a lot of people are like, ‘Are you kidding me? You’re a Steelers fan?’”

While they became fans in different ways, Mimier and Vrabel do agree on a couple things regarding the Steelers.

Both said Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu is their favorite player and both hope the Steelers come out victorious Sunday night.

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