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Loyal fans root from afar this Super Bowl
Melissa Quinlan, left, and Amanda Schwartz, both teachers at Haw Creek Elementary, get ready to defend their teams leading up to today’s Super Bowl XLV. - photo by Autumn McBride

The streets of Arlington, Texas, will be filled today with Terrible Towels and Cheeseheads in preparation for Super Bowl XLV.

In Forsyth County, local fans of the teams, game and even the commercials are also gearing up for the American tradition.

At 6:30 p.m., the Green Bay Packers will face the Pittsburgh Steelers for the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy.

While the teams represent northern cities, both have rich traditions and rabid fan bases even in the South.

Aside from the Atlanta Falcons, Packers and Steelers fans are often the most well represented on Sundays at Summits Wayside Tavern in Cumming, manager Chris Joseph said.

“They’re both very, very loyal,” Joseph said. “They’re always up with their teams no matter what they’re doing. They’re always fans.”

Taco Mac manager Steve Helms said the Cumming eatery often has a big gathering of Steelers fans on Sundays.

Helms said it’s not surprising to see fans of other NFL teams locally, since the area has many transplants.

For two Forsyth County teachers, that’s exactly the case.

Patte Smudde, a speech and language pathologist at Sawnee Elementary School, grew up in Milwaukee, where she learned to love the green and gold.

“You’re kind of raised on it,” Smudde said. “It’s hard not to be one. I watched just about every game with my dad. He always had the TV on.”

Pittsburgh native Melissa Quinlan, a fifth-grade teacher at Haw Creek Elementary School, has moved around, but always stayed with the Steeler Nation.

“It really is part of you when you’re from Pittsburgh,” Quinlan said. “That spirit of being a Steelers fan always does follow you.”

This visit to the big game is the seventh for the Steelers, whose six titles are the most in the NFL.

It’s the fifth for the Packers, who hold three titles, including victories in the first two Super Bowls.

That history is inescapable, Smudde said, and something she relishes bringing into the classroom.

“It’s fun to quiz the kids I work with on who won the first one and who won the second one,” she said.

Smudde noted that the Super Bowl trophy is named for legendary Packers coach, Vince Lombardi.

“The trophy really belongs to Green Bay and we’re always waiting for it to get back to its rightful place at Lambeau [Field],” she said.

This is the Pack’s year, Smudde added, though Quinlan had a different prediction.

“Of course, the Steelers are going to win,” she said. “Troy Polamalu, on defense, he’s going to be the star of the game, I can feel it.”

The Super Bowl often means watching with a crowd, and both educators have plans to do just that.

Smudde will watch with some friends who will serve as “designated Packers fans,” while Quinlan will watch with her family, as is their tradition.

“Steelers time is family time for me,” she said. “I love that.”