By official declaration, Saturday in Lakewood was all about hometown Super Bowl hero Jermaine Kearse.
The Lakes High School alumnus got a key to the city, a City Council resolution proclaiming April 12 as “Jermaine Kearse Day,” the attention of an estimated 500 people and half an hour of speeches singing his praises as an athlete and gentleman.
“Jermaine never brags about himself, so we’re having a good time bragging about him,” said Marty Schafer, president of the Clover Park School District Board of Directors.
It was an awful lot of attention, even for a wide receiver who caught four passes and scored a touchdown on football’s biggest stage in the Seattle Seahawks’ victory over the Denver Broncos.
He shyly smiled as he accepted hugs and gifts from teachers and coaches at Harry E. Lang Stadium, where he used to play football for the Lancers.
“It’s amazing to see this community show its appreciation for me. I feel like I’m not that big of a deal,” Kearse, 24, told a crowd of fans and friends who came to celebrate him.
That might be, but Lakewood leaders and fans wanted Kearse to know his touchdown catch against the Broncos was a very big deal to them.
“He grew up here, where we live,” said Evan Chard, 13, of Tacoma. He brought a football he’s been using to collect Seahawks autographs, hoping Kearse would sign it, too.
Kearse’s play in the Super Bowl “was an inspiration for me that you can do anything you want to do,” said Demetrius Dove, an 11-year-old from Spanaway who brought a blue Seahawks football and gray T-shirt for the wide receiver to autograph.
Kearse graduated from Lakes High in 2008, when he was The News Tribune’s high school athlete of the year. He went on to play for the University of Washington and then made his way on the Seahawks’ roster as an undrafted free agent two years ago.
He drew on his experience being passed over in the NFL draft to encourage students to chase their dreams.
“Being undrafted, I didn’t have too many opportunities,” he said. “I had to use the ones I got and try to be great.”
Lakes High plans to commemorate Kearse’s participation in the Seahawks’ first Super Bowl championship with a banner it intends to hang in its gymnasium. It shows a replica of his high school jersey, except at the bottom it reads “Jermaine Kearse Super Bowl Champion.”
“We might have capitalized off your Super Bowl championship, so thank you very much,” Schafer laughingly said as he displayed the new banner.
Adam Ashton: 253-597-8646