HARRISBURG, S.D. (KELO) — A famous Eagle is perched atop a South Dakota school teacher’s family tree. This Harrisburg first-grade teacher is the granddaughter of one of Philadelphia Eagles all-time great players. She’s using her family ties to the upcoming game as a teaching moment for her kids.

Students at Harrisburg’s Adventure Elementary are showing their true colors when it comes to the Super Bowl. But being a fan of the Eagles can be tough when you’re outnumbered in Chiefs country.

“A lot of my students are rooting for the Chiefs, yes. But they still kind of find it cool that I have a connection to the Eagles, so I’m still okay, I’m still pretty cool in their eyes,” teacher Erin Clarke said.

Clarke’s loyalty to the Eagles is in her blood. Her grandfather was Pete Retzlaff, a star football player for SDSU in the 1950’s, who went on to become an all-pro for Philadelphia, and later, the team’s general manager. He earned the nickname of “Pistol Pete,” but to Clarke, he was just “Grandpa Pete.”

“He is such a humble guy, was such a humble guy that he never shined a light on his career and his experiences playing football, always. But he had an interest in it because it’s something unique,” Clarke said.

“I think it’s so cool that his legacy gets to live on and these kids get to get excited about knowing, like a famous player and having a connection to that,” kindergarten teacher Nikki Townsend said.

Teaching good sportsmanship is always a priority in schools, especially involving kids at younger grades. But the message can really sink-in when you’re a teacher with ties to the NFL.

“And when we lose, sometimes that happens, how we can learn from that and move on from that? How can we show our friends, hey, that was great, awesome job, maybe next time I’ll be the one that wins the game,” Clarke said.

Retzlaff died in 2020 and Clarke carries her memories of him every day into her first-grade classroom, helping to teach life lessons that everyone, regardless of team loyalty, can cheer about.

Attending SDSU is a family tradition. Not only was Retzlaff a Jackrabbit, but so was Clarke’s mother, and Clarke, herself.