Lincoln-Way East football players honored in December Signing Day Ceremony
Friday, December 22, 2017

In the first-ever Lincoln-Way East NCAA December early signing day, parents, coaches, teammates, friends, and teachers gathered to recognize four Griffin football players for their commitment to compete in athletics at the collegiate level.

Athletic Director Mark Vander Kooi welcomed approximately 125 supporters in attendance at the ceremony, and applauded the players for their commitment. “Thank you for all your hard work in representing Lincoln-Way East so well…We are very, very proud of you.”

Students recognized included:

• John Christensen, who will compete at Washington University in St. Louis
• Brendan Morrissey, who will also compete at Washington University in St. Louis
• Turner Pallissard, who will compete at the University of Iowa
• Devin O’Rourke, who will compete at Northwestern University in Chicago

Coach Rob Zvonar took time to honor each athlete, describing their dedication in the classroom and on the field. Between honoring the athletes, guest speakers also gave advice to the student-signees. Those in attendance heard from three former Lincoln-Way East graduates including: NFL player Adam Gettis, University of Illinois Football Captain Nick Allegretti, and current Northwestern Wildcat Football Player Mo Almasri.

In a video message from the New York Giants locker room, Gettis addressed the whole Griffin team, the signees, and also spoke of his previous experience winning the State Championship with Lincoln-Way East. “For me, still, it’s one of the greatest feelings that I’ve ever had,” he said. “Compared to what I’ve done in college and in the ‘pros,’ Lincoln-Way East winning state back in ’05 is one of the greatest things I’ve ever done to this day.”

Allegretti told the players to remember where they came from; he reminded them to always give back to the community who gave them so much and “got them where they are today.” Almasri congratulated the State Champions, signees, and advised them to “keep working hard.”

Coach Zvonar honored each of the signees individually. He spoke of John Christensen’s record-breaking number, with 152 tackles in one season. He also discussed the academic rigor of Washington University, where John will attend. At Washington University, the average ACT score of accepted students is a score of 33. John’s stellar exam performance, GPA of 4.51, and his “character, leadership, and work ethic” were all factors that made him successful at Lincoln-Way East. “I have no doubt that you will make your mark on ‘Wash U’ with the same excellence as you have done here,” said Zvonar.

Joining Christensen at Washington University is Brendan Morrissey, also known as “B-Mo” by his coach and teammates. Morrissey’s skill on the field earned him a winning record, as he won every game he started as quarterback at Lincoln-Way East for a total of 32 victories. Morrissey’s determination on the field matched his determination in the classroom; he earned a 33 on his ACT and excelled in his classes. “The coaching staff at ‘Wash U’ is also counting on B-Mo to lead them into the next generation of football excellence. I am confident that he will have tremendous success…” said Zvonar.

Senior Turner Pallissard will go on to play football at University of Iowa, and was recognized as “one of the best tight ends in the state of Illinois this season.” Zvonar praised Pallissard for his work ethic, stating that he “attacked each day with high intensity and a desire to improve himself and his football team.” Pallissard was not only successful on the field, but also in the classroom. Zvonar congratulated Pallissard, thanking him for his commitment. “Thank you for all that you have done; you certainly have represented the name on the front, ‘Lincoln-Way East,’ and the name on the back, ‘Pallissard,’ in a truly honorable way,” he said.

Zvonar then discussed the success of player Devin O’Rourke, who is the most decorated player in Lincoln-Way East Football history, along with guest speaker Nick Allegretti. O’Rourke’s success on the field was matched by success in the classroom. “And like all elite leaders, Devin not only personally played at an incredibly high level but his leadership and work ethic helped his teammates to reach a higher level as well,” said Zvonar. Before attending Northwestern University and finishing his final semester at Lincoln-Way East, O’Rourke will be the first Lincoln-Way East player to participate in the Under Armor All-American in Orlando, Florida on January 4, 2018.