GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Angie and Tom Van Lanen have spent the better part of the past fifteen years watching their son Cole pursue his football dreams. On Saturday, they sat down to watch him play again, as they had done so many times before.
But this time was different. This time, Cole was not wearing a Bay Port or Wisconsin jersey. He instead wore a Green Bay Packers jersey. And the site was Lambeau Field.
“To see your kid achieve their their dream and to be out there,” Angie Van Lanen said. “Words kind of fail me at this point in time.”
Angie and Tom were not watching alone. A slew of extended family and friends, all decked out in #78 jerseys, all braved the driving rain to witness what was once a boyhood fantasy.
“It’s every kid’s dream, even mine,” Tom said. “I’m living my dream through him right now. It’s just unreal. I’m still in shock.”
“No matter where he ended up, we were going to be his fan,” Angie said of her son being drafted in the 6th round by Green Bay earlier this year. “But of course we had our own private conversations of, ‘Oh my gosh, what if it happened to be the Packers?,’ and we’re like, ‘No, it’s never gonna happen.’ And when that moment occurred, there wasn’t a dry eye in our house.”
The wet and shortened practice did not damper the Van Lanen’s mood, as they watched what was the culmination of many years of sacrifice.
“I think about Cole and it is truly about the hard work,” Angie said. “And when I say hard work, it’s extremely hard work. It’s the workouts, it’s the studying, it’s the film, and then let’s put injuries into it. And the pain of it all too. So for him to be out there, it’s just a combination of all the all those moments combined.”
As for the emotions of seeing Cole in the green and gold for the first time, Angie Van Lanen knew coming in that the rain wouldn’t be the only water falling on the night.
“I’ve had many of those moments where I haven’t been able to hold it emotionally just because I’m so happy,” she said. “And I’m sure today is probably going to be another one of those days.”