Lincoln-Way East Varsity Football Coach Receives Randy Walker "Doing Great" Award Friday, June 24, 2016
On Monday, June 20, at Ivanhoe Club, Lincoln-Way East Varsity Football Coach Rob Zvonar was honored with the prestigious Randy Walker "Doing Great" Award. Each year, the American Football Coaches Foundation (AFCA) presents the award to a coach who displays leadership and reflects positive influence on their young players. The selection committee is composed of members of the AFCA, along with members of the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association.
Lincoln-Way East Athletic Director, Mark Vander Kooi, says, "This is a prestigious award that recognizes those traits that Coach Z has installed into the foundation of his program. The school and the athletic department are proud of him and his tremendous coaching staff."
Zvonar, more commonly known as "Coach Z," began coaching with Lincoln-Way in 1994 at Central High School. In the fall of 2001, he founded the football program at East with 250 student athletes and 22 coaches. Under Coach Z, the Griffins are the first team in Illinois state history to qualify for playoffs in their inaugural season; even more impressive, they did so with no senior team members. The team is also the only school in state history to ever win a State Championship within its first five seasons. Zvonar brought his team to the playoffs for the past fifteen consecutive years, coached over 130 student-athletes who have gone on to play college football and also coached two players who have found careers in the NFL.
Coach Z has an 80% overall winning percentage, with a record of 142 wins and only 35 losses. It is obvious that Zvonar's coaching accomplishments are no small feat, but perhaps even more impressive are the connections that he has made and maintained with players.
John Christensen, a junior at Lincoln-Way East says, "He is a great coach, and he's a father figure to many of the players. He always pushes us very hard--farther than most of us think we could go, and I think that's what a football coach is supposed to do." It is apparent that Coach Z's influence doesn't end upon graduation, however. He regularly keeps in touch with countless former athletes, and even stood up in a former player's wedding last fall.
"Coach Zvonar and his football program have been the standard for high school football in the state of Illinois, both in on-field excellence, and also in character development of student-athletes," says Vander Kooi.
Zvonar refuses to take sole credit for the award, stating that it is a "total program award." He explains, "It is a tribute to our coaching staff, student-athletes, parents, school administration, and community youth football programs. This accolade was made that much more special because of who Randy Walker was as a coach and a man. Coach Walker's philosophies, ideals, and core values helped to shape the Lincoln-Way East Football program at our inception in 2001, and his impact continues to be evident today."