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From Iola to Green Bay, Welch making the most of his opportunity with Packers

Welch playing football
The Green Bay Packers recently signed Kristian Welch to their practice squad. Welch played for the Iola-Scandinavia Thunderbirds in high school, the Iowa Hawkeyes in college and spent three seasons with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens. Photo Courtesy of Emma Pravecek, packers.com

By Holly Neumann

Contributing Writer

GREEN BAY – After three years with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens Iola-Scandinavia High School graduate Kristian Welch is now part of the Green Bay Packers’ practice squad.

“Saying farewell to the Ravens is just part of the business, it’s the NFL,” he said. “I am excited about the opportunity with Green Bay.”

That opportunity has been a whirlwind experience for Welch, who the Ravens released shortly before the season began as the NFL’s 32 teams set their final 53-man rosters.

“I was notified by conversations with my agent that I was getting on a flight only a couple hours before that flight was taking off,” he said. “It’s certainly chaotic, but it’s the nature of my profession.”

Welch’s job now is to play the part of the opponent on any given week to help those who are playing prepare for games.

“Being on the practice squad means you are there to serve the team,” he said. “The guys who are going to be playing on Sunday need to practice the looks that they’re going to get from their opponent during that week’s game.”

Welch’s goal is not to stay on the practice squad.

“The goal is to at some point be elevated, meaning in that week I become elevated, I can play and get on the field,” he said.

Practice squad players can be elevated three times for three games before they are required to be signed to the active roster.

“This happened to me my rookie year when I was elevated starting on Week 5 of the season and played the remaining 12 games, including two playoff games,” Welch said.

Welch prepares himself each week as if he is going to be playing in the game.

“I’m in all the meetings and practices,” he said. “Practice squad players normally don’t travel to away games unless you have a chance of being elevated. For home games, we will be on the sideline, but not suited up.”

The chance to join the Packers is a dream come true, according to Welch.

“It’s always been a dream of mine,” he said. “I went to some games when I was a kid growing up and was a fan until I started playing in the NFL. It’s a very surreal feeling to now be a part of the team. It all happens so fast. One second I’m in Baltimore, the next day I’m in Green Bay.”

Welch said he will always remember his time with the Ravens.

“There are so many things that come to mind when thinking about my time in Baltimore,” he said. “I was surrounded by great teammates, coaches and a great organization. I have nothing but respect for them.”

For now, Welch is just going to take one day at a time.

“I will focus on improving 1% every day, have fun along the way, never take anything for granted and help the team win in any way I can,” he said.

Welch said there isn’t one thing about his job as a professional football player is not one thing that he doesn’t enjoy.

“If you don’t love football, even the hard parts about it, you won’t last long in the NFL,” he said. “There’s so much effort and sacrifice on and off the field that goes into it. If you’re not committed, you won’t make it very long.”

Welch said he is honored to represent Iola-Scandinavia High School on the team.

“I certainly haven’t forgotten where I came from,” he said. “I dearly miss the days when I played on Thunderbird Field.”

Holly Neumann is a staff reporter with the Waupaca County Post, New London Press Times and Clintonville Tribune-Gazette.

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