In Kids & Family

Anne Maedke with her Golden Girl pompons.

In Kids & Family

Maedke's varsity letter from Algoma High School.

Local mom was Packers cheerleader, first female to letter in football

Anne Maedke is not your typical football fan. The 49-year-old chiropractor has a gentle demeanor, and seems more likely to engage in yoga or Tai Chi than football. But don't let appearances fool you; Maedke has more history with the Packers than most of the youthful players.

"In 1970, I became a Golden Girl for the Packers," says Maedke, who was 12 at the time.

In the '60s and early '70s, The Golden Girls were Packers' cheerleaders. The name was later changed to The Packerettes and The Sideliners.

Mary Jane Van Duyse Sorgel formed the squad. Maedke went along with a friend to the Golden Girls audition, not knowing what she was auditioning for, and made the cut.

"The Golden Girls did skits, dance routines -- twirling and tumbling and acrobatic type things -- in one-piece sequined swimsuits and high-heeled boots during breaks," says Maedke.

In May 2007, The Golden Girls were honored at the Packers Hall of Fame in Green Bay with a permanent installation. Maedke planned to attend the event, but was unable to make it because a close friend lost a parent the same week.

"You don't get a lot of unusual experiences in life, so you have to grab 'em when you have the opportunity," says Maedke. "This would have been one of those experiences for me."

Although Maedke was a Golden Girl for only one season, it had a big impact on her.

"I realized I loved football," she says. "I was on the sidelines and would watch the game instead of paying attention to what I was supposed to be doing. I was so much more attracted to playing the game than cheerleading."

Maedke says growing up with brothers and their male friends originally introduced her to the sport. As a teenager, and a person with a background in dance and cheerleading, she appreciated football on a new level.

"For me, football became an extension of dance. The plays are so well-designed, that if everybody does exactly what they are supposed to, they became part of the choreography and the play is beautiful."

A couple of years after her stint as a Golden Girl, Maedke -- then a student at Algoma High School -- decided she wanted to join the football team. Because she was a girl, and the coach claimed they did not have protective gear small enough to fit her, she was denied.

Instead, she became the team mascot.

"Our team was The Wolves, so I wore a wolf costume, and it was the best," she says. "I got to interact with the cheerleaders and get in on the football action."

Maedke continued to ask the coach if she could join the team. "I pestered him for years," she says.

Finally, during her senior year, he agreed to let her be the team's manager and statistician. Maedke -- and another female student -- became the first women in Wisconsin to earn their varsity letters in football.

"The coach told me that he was breaking a barrier by letting me join the team, and I thought that was pretty cool," she says.

Maedke says her job as the manager and statistician was a good fit for her. It introduced her to health and healing, which would become very much a part of her life -- and her being -- years later.

"My job brought me to the sidelines again. I had to pay close attention to the plays, and bring the highlights to the newspaper," she says. "I also did the taping, and very low-grade sports medicine."

Maedke went on to earn a post-graduate degree in internal medicine at Northwestern Health Science University in Minnesota. Later, she became certified as a chiropractor, and today, operates a practice on Locust Street in Riverwest.

Maedke admits that for a brief period during chiropractic school she renounced football.

"It was during my ideal stage," she says, laughing. "I couldn't understand how anyone would purposely hurt their body and not try to take care of it perfectly. I got over it."

Today, Maedke, who lives in Bay View, attends a few Packers games a year, but never misses a game on television or the radio. She sold her tickets ("at face value") for Sunday's NFC championship game, but plans to replace them with tickets to a pre-season game that she hopes to attend with her children and grandchildren.

"Lambeau is a cultural experience that everybody, well almost everybody, should experience," she says.


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