After a successful season for the Kaukauna Raiders youth football program, teammates, coaches, and family members were treated to an ideal end-of-the-season banquet.
Following dinner and a season recap, the group experienced a special guest appearance from Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones.
Jones, who understands the importance of organized youth curricular activities, was glad to spend the evening with his admiring fans.
There wasn’t a question fans held back from asking, or a response Jones refused to offer. In fact, one fan wasted no time in opening the question-and-answer portion of the night. “What happened on that catch you missed Sunday?” The question, one plenty of Packers fans were wondering, only brought a big grin to Jones’ face and a good laugh from the crowd.
“Hey, if I’m here long enough to keep playing with the Packers, then I’m sure you’ll see another one just like it,” Jones said. “Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again too soon though. But honestly, I just dropped it. At least we had our defense to step it up for us.”
From offseason workout advice for the kids, to what he does in his spare time, to some of his favorite NFL players and leaders -- both of which include Charles Woodson -- fans were able to learn a lot more about one of the Packers’ leading receivers.
No question was left unanswered, even one regarding Jones’ initial reaction to playing for Green Bay, which wasn’t in his career game plan.
The question, “Did you always want to play for the Packers, or did you have different plans?” brought a rapturous roar throughout the crowd, and to Jones.
“Okay, I’m from California, so let me say that much,” Jones said. Jones then went on to share his draft day experience, which consisted of him thinking the phone call from Coach McCarthy was a prank call.
“Once I pulled into the stadium, it finally hit me,” he said. “So really, I had no idea where I was going, but I will say now, I am so lucky to be here. I am happy to be a Packer and I hope I stay here for my full career.”
Following the Q-and-A session, fans rushed to the front of the banquet hall for photographs and autographs, which Jones gladly accepted as he signed everything from casts to Favre jerseys to Van Abel’s Supper Club linens.
Not only was the night a great way to celebrate a successful season, but Kaukauna High School varsity football coach Chris Sievert was pleased to see the future Galloping Ghosts football players enjoy the evening and bond with each other.
“Tonight has been great,” Sievert said. “It’s awesome that the Kaukauna Raiders football program was given this opportunity. First off, the kids all come here to end their season and hang out with each other, and then to be able to talk to someone with the stature like James Jones tops off the whole night. Hearing how he started playing at their age, the kids really got a chance to relate to him and get even more keyed up about the game.”
Before Jones had even made his entrance, the majority of the kids had no idea who their surprise guest would be that night.
“Everyone has been excited about tonight, but most of the kids had no idea who was going to be here,” Sievert said. “Some of them had an idea, but really, it was a big surprise, one I know they all enjoyed.”
The Kaukauna Raiders youth football program, which originated in Hollandtown more than 50 years ago, has evolved into a well-established organization. The program is made up of six different Kaukauna teams, two teams for each grade -- sixth, seventh, and eighth. Teams match up with surrounding area teams and have traveled as far away as Two Rivers for games.
And as each kid approached members of their coaching staff to thank them for the season, it was clear that it was a season well-enjoyed.
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