Skol, Super Bowl: Appleton couple to lead volunteer teams during festivities
APPLETON — It may be too early for the Minnesota Vikings to be thinking about a trip to Super Bowl LII, but it's not too early for an Appleton couple.
They are definitely going to the big show. Or at least, all of the Super Bowl Live festivities leading up to it. They will have a front row seat on the celebrations leading to the biggest sporting event in the world as team captains with Crew 52.
Joan and Barry Fust, who operate Shooter's Bar and Grill in Appleton, are among the 10,000 volunteers who will assist the 1 million visitors expected in the 10 days leading up to the big game Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.
As captains, each will lead 10 to 20 volunteers at the Super Bowl Live events.
"Once-in-a-lifetime experience for me,'' Joan Fust said. She had persuaded her husband to apply to be a volunteer shortly after last year's Super Bowl.
Barry Fust said he was a little hesitant. Now that both have been interviewed, accepted and gone through training and a big rally, his perspective has changed completely.
"I'm glad I did it. It turned out to be a really fun thing,'' he said.
They got an inkling of just how much fun it will be when Joan Fust, after being accepted, helped interview other potential volunteers from the more than 20,000 applicants. Some flew in from places as far flung as Chicago and Houston, Texas, for the opportunity to be volunteers. They told her how much fun they had while serving as volunteers at previous Super Bowls. They included an airline pilot who flies NFL teams to their games and a neurosurgeon, she said.
The Fusts bring their own credentials to their role. They've been building a reputation for hospitality for nearly 21 years now at Shooter's Bar and Grill. "Keep 'em happy and they will come back. Good food. Good service,'' said Barry Fust when asked what it takes.
It's their friendship with former Minnesota Vikings player Chad Greenway that led Joan Fust to apply as a volunteer. Like Greenway, she is a South Dakota native. She was introduced to Greenway by a nephew who knew him.
Their connection to Greenway has also given Barry Fust lots of experience at playing host to celebrities. This background may have helped in his selection as a Crew 52 volunteer.
Each year, he serves as a volunteer chauffeur for the professional athletes helping out the Legends camp that Greenway holds in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Michael Irvin, Joe Theismann, Clyde Drexler, Ralph Sampson and Jack Morris are among the stars that Barry Fust has met there. "Nice guys,'' he said.
He added that he's seen firsthand that once outside of the limelight, most celebrities are very ordinary, friendly people.
And being friendly' is exactly what the Fusts and the other volunteers intend to offer in Minneapolis. The volunteers will be wearing Bold North host apparel and will be stationed to help visitors at all sorts of locations, from pond hockey games to skyways to ice sculptures and ice bars on the streets of Minneapolis. Their role is to help visitors with any of the questions they may have.
Volunteers are each asked to commit to four separate shifts, of six to eight hours, during the 10-day stretch leading up to the game. Barry and Joan Fust said they are likely to volunteer for additional shifts.
Neither is worried about the prospect that many of their hours could be spent outdoors in the chill of February. With typical Minnesota stoicism, Barry Fust explained that he likes to ice fish and that they're both "used to it'' when it comes to dealing with the cold.
What they are not so used to as lifelong Viking fans is the prospect that their team could be playing in the game. Their volunteer duties will end before kickoff on the big day. All of the volunteers have been advised that they're not likely to be assigned any duties inside the stadium. If the Vikings are playing, both said they will be watching the game and cheering for their team outside the stadium, just like most of Minnesota.