After 8 stops in 7 states, Vernon Hills QB Lazor is focused on forging his own path
If Vernon Hills High School junior quarterback Nolan Lazor ends up studying geography in college it wouldn't be a shock.
By his count, Lazor, the son of Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, has moved eight times and lived in eight houses in seven states -- a byproduct of his father's job as an NFL assistant coach.
Virginia (Washington Football Team and University of Virginia), Washington state (Seattle Seahawks), Pennsylvania (Philadelphia Eagles), Florida (Miami Dolphins), Ohio (Cincinnati Bengals), New York (sabbatical year for his dad, helped at Penn State) and now the North suburbs the last two seasons, Nolan Lazor likely watches U-Haul's stock price.
"It's definitely a different lifestyle," he said. "We have a family saying. It goes, 'Who lives like us?' We do. I definitely embrace it."
Lazor, a first-year varsity quarterback who has passed for 512 yards and 6 touchdowns this season for the 3-1 Cougars (who begin Central Suburban North play Friday at Deerfield), has taken a different tact to the family's lifestyle.
"All the experiences we have had, going into a lot of rooms with new faces you have never met will help me when I am older," he said. "Developing good social skills and facing good adversity now is going to help me later."
Bill Lazor said he and his wife, Nicole (the couple also is the proud parents of two younger daughters), know how hard it has been on their son to move around so much.
"Some kids would struggle with it," Bill Lazor said. "Nolan seems to have matured because of the moving. In sixth grade, his teacher told us it was the first time in his teaching career a kid came up, shook his hand and introduced himself the first day."
Nolan Lazor said the fact his father is a well-known figure also has helped him in his social development.
"Part of the role that toughens you up with my dad having a public job is you definitely face some criticism," he said. "You develop thick skin. It doesn't bother me.
"When I go somewhere new I like to see how long it takes for people to find out. In a football-active area like Chicago it doesn't stay under wraps for long. It's something I don't like talking about. I don't want that to be peoples' description of me."
One of Lazor's toughest hurdles to overcome occurred this spring when he suffered a separated shoulder and torn labrum in a Vernon Hills basketball game. The injury occurred in March and Lazor worked hard to get back in time for the start of the Cougars' football season -- a quick five-month turnaround.
"I had a tough recovery process," he said. "It's a credit to my physical therapist (Mike Kordecki at Praxis in Vernon Hills) and my coaches, and my dad really helped me get through it. I worked hard to get back to being able to play before the season started."
Bill Lazor said he's still in awe of the work his son put in post-surgery. "We were not sure he would be able to play at the beginning of this season," he said. "He was so determined to be recovered. He worked way harder than I thought a 16-year-old could. I'm really amazed he is able to play like he has so far."
Vernon Hills head coach Bill Bellecomo emphasized Lazor's injury as major "I don't know if I have ever seen a player come back as quick as he did," he said. "He was focused on being able to play Week 1. Each week the speed of the game slows down a little more for him. He basically had to learn to throw again. Early on, every throw he made felt a little different. Add in the fact Nolan never played in a varsity football game, it really is remarkable what he is doing right now."
Bellecomo said Lazor has a lot of intangibles going for him beyond Xs and Os. "Nolan does all the little things," he said. "He is the guy who carries the ball bag and brings water to his teammates at halftime. The quarterback position is different. You are the leader in the huddle and the ball is in your hands every play. He has a lot of moxie for his age."
With the grind of the NFL season in full swing, Bill Lazor said Friday nights are easy.
"It's 100 percent being a dad," he said. "Nicole and I cheer for the team, watch Nolan play and enjoy. I obviously have a lot of opinions about how he is playing. (Dad's scouting report: Throwing motion has become smooth and consistent; strong ability to see the field.)
"But I also keep a big picture perspective. No. 1, he's having a blast on this team. No. 2, he's learning a ton and getting better every week. We are enjoying it, though Nicole would rather her boy not get hit."