Alec Ingold remembers standing on the sidelines of Lambeau Field with his parents telling them all he wanted to be when he grew up was a Green Bay Packer.
Growing up in Green Bay, Wisc., Alec Ingold was practically a household name in the community.
He was a football star, dominant wrestler, and it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say he was the best athlete in the state of Wisconsin. There weren't many things the Raiders rookie fullback wasn't good at in high school.
People took notice of Alec's talent quickly; he starred as Bay Port High School's quarterback, as well as their tailback at different points of his young football career. He was also an All-American and the 2014 Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Wisconsin. His father, Pat, remembers going into work and receiving weekly compliments from his coworkers about his son's performance after every game.
"He was a pretty good high school football player. He was the player of the year in the state and being from the Green Bay area he was always pulling crowds," Pat recalled. "At the time I used to work for a larger company and would have people come up to me all the time and tell me how they watched him the night before. A lot of people supported him because he was a pretty darn good player in high school."
He was a small-town celebrity, but in Alec's mind nothing has ever been about him, and he doesn't want it to be.
The Oakland Raiders are playing the Green Bay Packers this week, and even though all eyes are on Alec's return to his hometown, to him this game is about the people who helped raised him.
Alec's been blessed with incredibly supportive parents, but more than that, he's received support from the community since he was a teenager. In the tight-knit town of Green Bay, everyone knows everyone in one way or another, and there wasn't a person in town that didn't want to see Alec succeed. While his physical gifts were part of it, it was impossible to overlook his natural kindness and genuine authenticity.
"Alec was an impressive athlete growing up all along," said his high school football coach Gary Westerman. "As a sophomore he had been a quarterback most of his life, we had a senior quarterback, we moved [Alec] to tailback and he was exceptional right away… He was just a great athlete and just one of those once in a lifetime kids to coach."
After going undrafted out of the University of Wisconsin, Alec's dreams of making it to the NFL looked like a longshot. As a child, he was asked to draw a picture of what he wanted to become when he grew up, and being raised in Green Bay he idolized the Packers, and he wanted nothing more to make it to the NFL.
Sure, his natural abilities allowed him to succeed in high school, but it's his willingness to do whatever is asked of him that has allowed him to reach this point.
"I think kind of going through this whole process, the dream was to play quarterback and that's what I did because that was the best way to help the team win games," Alec said. "So, that's really how I've approached football. I realize it's a game and whatever I can do to help the team win, that's what I like to do, that's what I enjoy. I enjoy playing the game as much as possible."
Through it all, the rookie has managed to stay connected to the people who matter most. During the team's bye week, Ingold returned to the University of Wisconsin to watch his alma mater go to work, but he also takes the time to stay in touch with those still in Green Bay.
Alec's relationship with his former coach, Westerman, has evolved from a teacher and student, to just two close friends.
"We message a couple times a week, and talk. When he's in town we'll get together and workout together, so it's more like a buddy relationship, which is awesome," Westerman said. "Playing and coaching football there's ups and downs and he's always invested in our season and what's going on. When he had ups and downs at Wisconsin I was there for him. So, it's mutual and I just think there's a tremendous amount of mutual respect for each other. Just really want the best for him and the fact that he feels strongly enough to keep me involved in his life just means the world."
Pat expects Alec to receive an outpouring of support on Sunday when he takes the field, and the family is expecting at least forty close friends and relatives to attend the game, but those are just the people that he's aware of.
Pat and his wife, Chris, have been able to attend a couple of Alec's games – Monday Night Football against the Denver Broncos and the Minnesota Vikings – and while their attendance means the world to him, Alec will have a few people at Lambeau Field who have never seen him play, and it's a moment he's waited a long time for.
"My grandparents are getting up there in age, so we got handicapped accessible spots for them," Alec divulged. "The staff is going to take care of them and make sure they've got a good seat. To play in front of them – they live five hours away – for them to be able to come down and travel is a big deal for them to move that far, and for them to be able to watch me play at Lambeau is going to be pretty surreal."
"Yeah he has one grandmother on my side who got to watch him when LSU played Wisconsin at Lambeau Field, which would've been his sophomore year, but his grandparents on my wife's side never got to see him play in college or professionally," Alec's father added. "So, this is really going to be special for them to be able to see Alec play for the first time. Obviously special for my mother as well, they're very proud of their grandchild."
While Alec will receive an overwhelming amount of support, he knows not to expect too much support for the Raiders.
People from Green Bay take the Packers seriously; it's Packers or bust.
Growing up a die-hard fan, Ingold knows just how significant the team is to the city of Green Bay, and playing at Lambeau Field, the stadium he went to countless times as a child, will be surreal, but he's there to do a job.
Alec's character has left a lasting impression on those who knew him best, and when kickoff rolls around on Sunday, Westerman says all fandom goes out the window.
"I root for Alec Ingold."