Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 10/2/2013 5:12 PM

Lake Zurich's football players are, literally, heroes

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Most athletes never forget where they were when they were asked for an autograph for the first time.

Sean Lynch will probably also long remember all of the other questions he got on that special day. They made him smile, and still do.

Lynch, a senior cornerback and running back at Lake Zurich, was at a local grade school recently. Clad in his football jersey, he was there to read to his second grade teacher's students as part of the Bears' community outreach program.

All 32 seniors from the team went out to grade schools over the first three weeks of the season to encourage kids to read.

"I read a book about (Hurricane) Katrina," Lynch said. "Then there was this Q-and-A session that went on for like 20 minutes.

Probably a lot of football questions, right?

"No, not really," Lynch laughed. "There was one kid who knew about football and he asked me about my position. But mostly it was all personal stuff. The kids asked me what was my favorite book when I was a little kid, and I said 'The Giving Tree.'

"They asked about my favorite color, when my birthday is. Stuff like that. It was all over the place. But it was really cool to be there with them. And getting asked for my autograph for the first time ever was a really humbling experience."

The Bears are humbled by the outpouring of support that their team gets, especially at home games where the bleachers and parking lots are always jammed. They have made helping out in the community a priority as a way to show their gratitude.

Each summer, the football team also participates in the town's Relay for Life cancer fundraiser. It's a 12-hour walk held at the high school.

"We always talk to our kids about seeing the bigger picture and that you always pay it forward," said Lake Zurich assistant coach Chad Beaver, who organizes the reading program, which started as a pilot last season. "People in the community come out and support us. The least we can do is give back to the children in our community.

"I got three to four e-mails from teachers (at the grade schools) on the first day we went into the classrooms. They told me that their kids were so excited, that it was neat for them to see a kid who has walked in their shoes."

Back when their shoes were pint-sized, the Bears could have never imagined the reception they'd get upon returning to their grade schools. They were overwhelmed.

"It was awesome. Right when I was turning into the room, the kids were all like, 'Oh my gosh, he's here!' And they starting going crazy," Lake Zurich linebacker Sam Walstrum said with a smile. "That's never happened to me before."

Linebacker Colton Moskal went back to his old kindergarten room, where he felt like a giant, and was treated like a rock star.

"It was awesome," Moskal said. "Walking through the hallways with my jersey on and having all these little kids going, 'He plays football for Lake Zurich!' was the coolest thing ever.

"I remember when I was that age and I would go to football games and those guys were my heroes. Our community is so awesome. They do so much for us. It's fun to do something for them."

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