Sweet home…not Chicago?

Sweet home…not Chicago?

As the Super Bowl approaches, many staff and students will watch the matchup purely as a (hopefully) good football game. The Chicago Bears, the team so many of them support, didn’t even make the playoffs, making this year’s Super Bowl just another game until the Bears decide what to do with their first overall draft pick. For sophomore Charlie Letzig and freshman Nick Benitez, however, this Super Bowl, which will be played on Feb. 11, means a little bit more.

Letzig is a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs, the AFC champions that will play in Las Vegas this year. Despite many friends and other students labeling him a “bandwagon,” Letzig was raised as a fan of the Chiefs and Kansas City Royals. His dad is a huge fan and has supported the Chiefs in previous seasons, even when they weren’t good. Additionally, his family is from Kansas City, and he used to visit there often, especially when he was younger.

Letzig’s favorite memory of the Chiefs was last winter break when he attended their 27-24 win against the Broncos.

“I had, of course, watched the Chiefs my whole life, but I had never got to experience a game at Arrowhead Stadium,” Letzig said. “Just finally going there and watching a game in person was really cool.”


As the Super Bowl approaches, Letzig is confident in the Chiefs, but he knows it is going to be a tough game, much like the one against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC title game.

“Patrick Mahomes might have to pull out some magic,” Letzig said.

As a fan of the San Francisco 49ers, the NFC representative in the Super Bowl, Benitez hopes that the 49ers are too good for the Chiefs to handle. A fan of the Niners (and their colors) since 2016, he enjoyed watching Jimmy Garoppolo, a Rolling Meadows graduate, play as the team’s starting quarterback (although he has since signed with the Las Vegas Raiders).

“I … liked that we had someone near us playing in the professionals,” Benitez said.

His favorite memory so far was their 2020 Super Bowl against the Chiefs, and, while they ultimately lost that game 31-20, he feels confident about this year’s matchup. Star running back Christian McCaffrey is Benitez’s favorite player, and Benitez believes he will help carry the 49ers to a Super Bowl victory.


While the Baltimore Ravens are out of the playoffs, senior Ben Riedel continues to believe in their future. For Reidel, a former Bears fan, cheering for the Bears just wasn’t working. The continued losing, the lack of hope and the drafting of Justin Fields (whom Riedel didn’t like as a prospect) was just too much. He was already a fan of big-name Ravens players like Lamar Jackson, Chuck Clark and Marquise Brown, so, following the 2019 season, he decided to make the switch and become a Ravens fan.

“I mean, why not just start rooting for them if I like every player?” Riedel said. “[I] might as well just be a fan of the team.”

His favorite memory as a Ravens fan was in 2021, when they played the Indianapolis Colts in Week 5. The game went into overtime, and Jackson threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Brown to win the game, 31-25.

“I was screaming when it happened,” Riedel said. “It was one of the best things I’ve ever seen.”


Despite being part of a family of all Bears fans (his brother thinks it’s stupid that he’s a Ravens fan), Riedel remains a former-bandwagon, now-die-hard Ravens fan.

Special Education teacher Steve Branch has had a different route to cheering on one of the top teams in the NFL this year. Branch was born and raised in Michigan and became a Detroit Lions fan as soon as he knew what football was. His uncle, who lived in Detroit, took him to his first Lions game when he was in middle school. 

Branch’s favorite memory of the Lions was attending the 1991 divisional round game against the Dallas Cowboys when the Lions advanced to their first ever conference championship. That was the time of Barry Sanders, who played a big role in the Lions’ 38-6 upset win.


Another of his favorite memories involves the Lions’ tradition of playing on Thanksgiving Day. For Branch and his family, Thanksgiving Day offered a more complex tradition than simply eating turkey and mashed potatoes.

“It was a tradition to hit the Thanksgiving Day Parade and then go to the Lions game after,” Branch said. “That was always fun — a tradition.”


Junior Brette Schauer has a tradition involving her favorite team, the Green Bay Packers, as well: not attending any games at Lambeau Field. Her family has attended two games there in the past, but both times the Packers haven’t scored any points.

“We think we’re bad luck,” Schauer said. “We don’t want to risk it.”

Schauer was born into a family of Packers supporters. Both of her parents are from Wisconsin, and she was even named after the legendary Packers quarterback Brett Favre.

“I was brought up … a Cheesehead,” Schauer said.

Her favorite memory of watching the Packers was this past season, as they advanced all the way to the divisional round of the playoffs with the youngest roster in the NFL. Everyone, according to Schauer, doubted the team, but they played very well. She’s excited about the future for the Packers.

“We’re going to win the Super Bowl,” Schauer said. “Next year. Super Bowl. For sure.”


Sophomore Kyle Struzik is a little bit different from other fans in this article, as he has remained a die-hard Bears fan despite his support of another NFL team: the Philadelphia Eagles. The first NFL game he ever watched was in 2017: the Eagles against the Denver Broncos. The Eagles beat the Broncos 51-23, but the importance of the game for Struzik was that he was watching it with his dad.

“That’s a fond memory I have with my dad,” Struzik said. “After that I was like ‘Woah, that team’s pretty cool.’”


While Struzik didn’t have any previous family connections to the Eagles, freshman Alice Kelsey does, as she became a New Orleans Saints fan because of her parents. Her dad went to Purdue and is a big Drew Brees fan (a former Purdue quarterback who led the Boilermakers to the Rose Bowl, finished third in Heisman voting and led the Saints to their only Super Bowl Victory), and her mom grew up in New Orleans.

“[There are] a lot of New Orleans and Drew Brees fans in my house,” Kelsey said.

Her favorite memory involving the Saints is just watching the games with her family. Everyone makes sure to clear their busy schedules and make time to watch the Saints games as a family.


Junior Jake Persson is a fan of many different teams, but they aren’t all from the same location. In football, Persson is a big fan of the Seattle Seahawks. When he first started watching football, he was struck by their neon green color rush uniforms.

“I was like, ‘Wow, colors!’” Persson said. “I’ve always been a big fan of colors.”

Persson’s favorite memory of the Seahawks was when they won the Super Bowl in 2014. They beat the Denver Broncos 43-8.


He is also a fan of the Los Angeles Angels, which he used to play for in little league baseball. He started playing for them when he was around five and has cheered for them ever since. He has really enjoyed watching Shohei Ohtani, arguably the best player in the MLB, play in recent years.


Persson is also a big fan of the basketball and hockey teams in Toronto, the Raptors and Maple Leafs respectively. His Toronto background comes from his dad, who was born in Sweden but moved to Toronto to play hockey when he was 15. He played until he was 17, but had to stop due to an injury. While Persson isn’t a big Raptors fan, his favorite moment was watching them win the NBA championship in six games against the Golden State Warriors in 2019. 


Persson is more of a hockey fan, which is why he supports the Maple Leafs. He has always been a Blackhawks fan, growing up around Chicago, but he gave in to his dad and became a Leafs fan when he was 10 or 11.

“Just watching [the Maple Leafs] play with my dad,” Persson said. “That’s a really fun time, getting to bond over the same team.” 

Persson’s favorite moment came recently when the Leafs finally made it out of the first round of the playoffs. After losing in the first or qualifying round from 2017-2022, they finally managed to win a series 2023, beating the Tampa Bay Lightning four games to two. It was the first time they had made it past the first round of the playoffs since 2004, before Persson was born.



Career and Technical Education (CTE) teacher Thom Ringrose is also a fan of multiple teams, but all of them are based in New York. Ringrose was born in New York and quickly became a Mets, Knicks and Jets fan (but very clearly not a Giants or Yankees fan). Being a Jets fan was “kind of drilled in there,” as his dad was a ball boy on the Jets 1969 Super Bowl team, and “like 60%” of the Jets’ defense worked under his grandfather (a Sears manager) during the football offseason.

“As soon as I understood what football was, we were watching it,” Ringrose said.

Ringrose is also a big Knicks fan, though he became a fan of the team mostly to be a contrarian to his dad. When his family moved to Chicago, his dad became a Bulls fan, but Ringrose and his brother became Knicks fans just to argue.

The family used to go to Bucks vs Knicks games in Milwaukee to see the Knicks play (it was cheaper than watching them play the really good Bulls in Chicago), and Ringrose loved to watch Patrick Ewing and Anthony Mason play. As a kid, he really enjoyed watching them pick fights with other teams in the league. 


While he has lots of negative memories of all his teams, as they haven’t won much, his favorite memories include watching the Jets AFC championship games in 2009 and 2010. The first game, in 2009, was quarterback Mark Sanchez’s rookie year, and Ringrose and his dad traveled to Michigan to watch the game with his brother at a sports bar. That created a tradition for them where they would watch the games while on a conference call together.


Another of Ringrose’s favorite memories was the Jets’ Monday Night Miracle in 2000, which he watched in his college dorm room with his best friend. The Jets overcame a 30-7 deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat the Miami Dolphins 40-37. The comeback included a touchdown by offensive tackle Jumbo Elliot to tie the game.

“I was an offensive lineman, so seeing an offensive lineman get into the endzone was pretty darn cool,” Ringrose said. “Especially knowing that it’s against Miami because screw Miami.”


English teacher Matt Love also traces his fandom to his roots. Love was born in St. Louis, and he grew up a Cardinals and Blues fan. Despite moving to Chicago in 1994, he has remained a fan of the St. Louis teams.

“[There is] something about fans of the Cardinals and the Blues where it kind of sticks with you,” Love said.

Love’s parents, as well as his mom’s parents, were also born in St. Louis, but his connections to the teams are even deeper than that. His dad played baseball in high school, and he worked as an usher at the old Busch Stadium. Back in the 1950s, he would even catch rides to the games with the players, and he played against former major leaguers during summer league in Alaska when he was stationed there with the Air Force.

Love has become used to being a St. Louis fan in Chicago (St. Louis and Chicago sports teams are big rivals), and he finds it a great way to make connections with his students. Especially when he was a young teacher, he often wore Blues jerseys to school on game days. One year, while teaching at Elk Grove, he had a bet with a student regarding a Blues-Blackhawks playoff series. The loser had to wear the other team’s jersey. Luckily for Love, the Blues won the series, and the student had to wear a Blues jersey for a day at school.


“It’s a lot of fun to be a St. Louis sports fan in enemy territory,” Love said.

One of his favorite memories as a Cardinals fan was spending time with his family, listening to Cardinals games on the radio and watching them on TV.

“It’s kind of in my bloodstream,” Love said. “I have formative memories of hearing stories…about the Cardinals…[and going] to games when I was young.”

When the Cardinals won the World Series in 1982, Love and his family drove back to St. Louis to watch Game 7 with his grandparents. After the Cardinals won, they all got into his grandpa’s car and drove around the stadium, honking their horn with thousands of other Cardinals fans.


Love has also passed this love of the Cardinals to his children, who were born in Chicago.

“I told them, ‘Look. I just want you to be happy in life, you can make whatever decisions you want, I really don’t care, I support you,’” Love said. “‘…as long as you’re not a Cubs fan. If you’re a Cubs fan, you’re out of the family, I disown you.’”

Being only a senior, Tony Freni hasn’t been a fan of his team for as long as Love, but he is committed to being a fan of the Houston Rockets. He especially likes their center, Alperen Şengün. Freni was playing fantasy basketball last year when he picked up Şengün off the waiver wire. Freni liked his play style, which is similar to that of NBA All-Star Nikola Jokić. In fact, Şengün has earned himself the nickname “Baby Jokić.”

“He passes the ball in ways I didn’t think a big man could ever pass a ball,” Freni said.

His favorite memory of watching Şengün play was this past January, when Şengün led the Rockets to a 135-119 victory over the Lebron James-led Los Angeles Lakers. Şengün even dunked over James, which Freni greatly enjoyed watching.


While he gets made fun of by his friends, Freni continues to support the Rockets and Şengün. He has been watching Şengün ever since he was drafted in 2021, and he even drafted him in the 6th round this year in fantasy basketball.

“It’s been a year now, and I’ve been a Houston Rockets fan ever since,” Freni said.

While inquiring about students and staff members at Prospect who supported NFL playoff teams, it was soon clear that there is a wide variety of sports fans who don’t support the Chicago Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs or White Sox. To discover the stories of how these Knights became a fan of non-Chicago sports teams, 11 students and staff members around the school were interviewed regarding their fandom.

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