By Lindsey Young, for Vikings.com
MANKATO, Minn. — Minnesota Vikings training camp is in full swing, and the team held its first night practice of the year Saturday evening. The two-hour, full-pads practice took place at Blakeslee Stadium at Minnesota State University, and 10,300 Vikings fans showed up for the occasion. Plenty of enthusiasm surrounds this year's squad, and Saturday proved no different. The stadium started a round of "Teddy" chants when second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater took the field, and an even louder wave of applause welcomed running back Adrian Peterson.
With thousands of people supporting the Vikings, countless stories are represented. This year marks the 50th anniversary of training camp being held in Mankato, and here are stories from some of those fans who have helped create the legacy. Find out what they are saying about training camp, their favorite memories, and what they're most looking forward to this season.
Darren brought an entire entourage to training camp this year, including his wife, best friend and three boys, ages 10, 7 and 6. Seven-year old Owen smiles from beneath a purple Vikings hat.
"Adrian Peterson is my favorite player," he says. "Because he's just so good."
Darren has been cheering for the Vikings for as long as he can remember, so he's thrilled to share that with his boys now. For Darren, it's the personal atmosphere of training camp that keeps him coming back.
"I remember one time we were right across the fence from [quarterback] Daunte Culpepper and [coach] Dennis Green," Darren recalls. "It was surreal to just stand and talk to them. You normally don't get that much access, so it's kind of fun being up close and personal to the players."
Joseph Alexander, Lynn Keck, and Sandy Lozer
Joseph, Lynn and Sandy are all members of Vikings World Order and regulars to Vikings training camp. They have a hard time coming up with a favorite memory, but Sandy and Lynn agree that meeting wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson finishes near the top. Last year, the two received autographs from Patterson.
"We had a friend that was pregnant, and [Cordarrelle] signed her belly," Lynn said. "He pretended like he wasn't going to do it — he took off and ran away, laughing — then he came back and signed her shirt right on the baby bump. She had the baby girl, and they have that shirt for a memory. I have pictures of him signing it – it was pretty cool."
Daniel and Devery Flomo
This summer marks Daniel's first time at Vikings training camp, but it's special for more than one reason. It's also the first trip for his 3-month-old son, Devery. Daniel says that he and his wife plan to make training camp a yearly tradition as a family.
"I'm looking forward to seeing the players come out here and practice," Daniel said. "My favorite player [has always been] Adrian Peterson, but I'm also leaning toward Anthony Barr. I like how aggressive he is – his size and speed all put together."
Deb Godfredson and Sandy Mullenbach
These sisters may live in Iowa, but they are life-long Vikings fans excited to be spending the 50th anniversary of training camp in Mankato. Deb's favorite memory occurred in 1989, when she got the chance to attend Hershel Walker's first game in Minnesota and also met Tommy Kramer. Sandy enjoys attending games today with her grandkids… even though one of them is a Packers fan.
"We sit there in a huge group of Vikings fans, and there sits Zach in a Green Bay jersey," said Sandy. "[...] he asks Grandma not to cheer for the Vikings, but we're huge fans through thick and thin! Go Vikings!"
Nick SpadacciniNick has been to training camp "many, many" times and is a dedicated fan. He has stuck with the Vikings through years of both wins and losses, and he feels incredibly excited about where the team is headed.
"Last year was the funnest camp because of the new coaches, new coordinators, new players," Nick said. "Everything is changing, and it's a whole different vibe. We're going the right direction, and everybody feels it ... we're on the right track."