San Diego native Anna Linberg was destined to be a Green Bay Packers fan from birth. One of the first things she learned as a baby was to shoot both arms straight up in the air when she heard "Touchdown, Packers!"
"Both my parents were born and raised in the Eau Claire area. They moved to San Diego like 25 years ago. My dad is a huge football fan and huge Packers fan. That’s just been imbedded in me since pretty much birth," said Linberg, who is the Packers representative in the NFL Fan of the Year contest.
It is a perk of the contest that Linberg will attend Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, in February, at the NFL's expense, with 31 other top team fans. The winner will be announced Feb. 11 by the league, the night before the game.
"My father actually nominated me. I didn’t find out until I got the call that I won. I was actually really shocked about it," she said. "He loves signing up for stuff like this. Anything he can sign up for, he’s on it. I should have seen this coming, honestly."
In fact, it was the fourth time Trevor Linberg nominated her for the honor.
"He likes to rave on about how I’m a good student and I’m very involved in my community here at Madison," she said. "I think he’s just very proud of the fact that I started my own business (in high school) as well when I was in San Diego, and (am) trying to do many things while still being passionate about the things that I like."
Community involvement is a factor in the contest. Linberg is a participant in Habitat for Humanity in Madison and in a Food Recovery Network on the University of Wisconsin campus, among other projects she volunteers for. In high school, she participated in several community outreach events and mentored the local elementary and middle school robotics teams.
"My late uncle, he was very heavily involved in the Racine chapter (of Habitat). I was very interested in doing that," she said. "I’m part of the food network. It’s to help reduce waste, from the dinning halls."Linberg is studying personal finance and will graduate a year early. She is learning Korean and Spanish, and is fluent in American Sign Language. At 22 years old — she'll be 23 in January — the University of Wisconsin senior is the youngest Fan of the Year nominee by at least a decade.
Like many Packers fans, Linberg enjoys being part of a larger community.
"When we go to away games, you see the (Packers) logo and it’s an instant conversation starter, and we end up talking for a while. It’s such a nice way to meet people and be a part of the community that is bigger than football," she said. "We all have that same passion and love and support no matter how we are doing, whether we’re 14-0 or 0-17. I like going beyond football, and I like going into what they do in their lives and to get to know them as people."
Linberg spends most game days with her mom, Erika, who lives near Madison.
"Every weekend, I go to her house and we’ll cook like cookies or desert or something. We all watch together. It’s a good opportunity for me to regain family connections," she said.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, they would attend one game at Lambeau Field and sometimes another on the road every year. Linberg looks forward to reestablishing that tradition next season.
She will get to see at least one game in person this year, although it seems increasingly likely the Super Bowl won't include the Packers, who are 4-7 and not looking like they'll make the playoffs.
"It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Those tickets aren’t cheap, so don’t think I’d ever get to go to a Super Bowl," she said. "It’s going to be a really fun experience, especially meeting other fans of the year. It’s been such a nice way to connect with everyone."
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: UW student Packers fan is youngest nominee for NFL Fan of the Year