High School Football Initiatives
Coach of the Week - 2018 Winners
The Chicago Bears “Coach of the Week” program concluded its 23rd season this year. The program honors outstanding Illinois high school coaches who develop players’ football skills and knowledge, character, leadership, discipline and teamwork abilities. Other criteria considered includes unique coaching methodology, community and off-field components, school and community support, volunteerism and, most importantly, contributions to players’ long-term success on and off the field. Deserving high school coaches are nominated by a panel of local prep authorities and the winning coach is selected each week. The Chicago Bears will make a $1,500 contribution to the football program at each winning coach’s school and invite them to a Bears game. Since the program’s inception, the Bears have donated over $280,000 to Illinois high schools in support of their football programs.
Congratulations to the 2018 COW winners:
- Oliver Speller - Proviso East High School
- David Hay - Glenwood High School
- Joe Sanchez - Barrington High School
- John Walters - Glenbard East High School
- *Ken Leonard - Sacred Heart Griffin High School
- Mike Bukovsky - Montini Catholic High School
- Ron Dawczak - Marist High School
- John Hoerster - Oak Park River Forest High School
- Brian Badke - Brother Rice High School
*Coach of the Year:
Ken Leonard - Sacred Heart-Griffin
Coach Leonard became the all-time wins leader in IHSA football history on September 21, 2018. Coach Leonard currently has 379 career victories in his 42 years of coaching.
High School All-Stars - 2018 Winners
Each week for nine weeks, an outstanding high school football player will be selected through the Bears “High School All-Star” program. Each of the nine players will have the opportunity to direct a $500 monetary donation to the youth football program of his choice. The nomination criteria for the program includes on-field performance, community involvement and good sportsmanship. The Bears “High School All-Stars” program will run from Aug. 31 through Oct. 26. Deserving high school players are nominated by a panel of local prep authorities and the winning player is selected each week.
Congratulations to our 2018 High School All-Stars:
- Jack Olsen- Wheaton Warrenville South High School
- Brandon Odam- Taylorville High School
- Trevor Keegan – Crystal Lake South High School
- Michael Best – Wheeling High School
- JJ McCarthy- Nazareth Academy
- Rashad Rochelle- Springfield High School
- Ty Gavin- Notre Dame College Prep
- Nick Rattin - Fremd High School
- Jake Bellizzi- Maine West High School
Equipment Donation Program
The Chicago Bears and Good Sports would like to help youth football programs who need help providing football equipment to their kids. It is our goal to serve and increase youth football participation in the Chicagoland area.
Good Sports is a non-profit whose mission is to increase youth participation in sports, recreation and fitness activities. Good Sports provides sports equipment, apparel, and footwear to youth organizations offering sports, fitness and recreational programs to youth in need.
Please read the Good Sports Application (PDF) for more information on the selection criteria and process.
NFL Grassroots Program
The NFL Foundation Grassroots Program is a partnership of the National Football League Foundation (NFL Foundation) and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to provide non-profit, neighborhood-based organizations, middle schools and high schools with financing and technical assistance to improve the quality, safety, and accessibility of local football fields.
Parks and playing fields can serve as tremendous community assets because they offer opportunities for recreation, education, and relaxation that contribute to the local quality of life, especially for young people. In five years of programming, the Fields Program has awarded $12.5 million in grants for 116 projects with total development costs of $53 million in over 40 cities across the country. Grants are announced and awarded annually in the fall.
The National Football League Foundation (NFL Foundation) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health and safety of sports, youth football and the communities in which we live. The NFL Foundation represents the 32 NFL clubs and supports the health and safety of athletes, youth football and the communities which support our game.
IHSA State Champions
The Chicago Bears recognize the Illinois state football champions from Class 1A through Class 8A each year. In 2018, the following state champions were honored during a halftime ceremony at the Bears vs. Packers game on December 16:
- Forreston High School (Class 1A)
- Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School (Class 2A)
- Monticello High School (Class 3A)
- IC Catholic Prep (Class 4A)
- Joliet Catholic Academy (Class 5A)
- Cary Grove High School (Class 6A)
- Nazareth Academy (Class 7A)
- Loyola Academy(Class 8A)
Athletic Trainer Initiative
The Chicago Bears make a donation to Chicago Public Schools every year to cover the cost of athletic trainers on the sidelines for every varsity football game during the regular season and state playoffs. The Bears also use a matching grant from the NFL Foundation to assist with the costs of athletic trainers in lower income suburban high schools.
Bears Flag Football
On Saturday, November 3, 2018, the Chicago Bears hosted eight high school flag football teams at the Walter Payton Center for a single day tournament. Lake Forest, Oak Park River Forest, Dundee-Crown, Marian Central, Stagg, Lemont, Reavis and St. Rita battled for the Championship. Stagg High School was crowned 2018 Bears Flag Football Champions and received tickets to a Bears home game where they were recognized during pregame.
NFF Scholar-Athlete Awards
The Bears annually host the National Football Foundation Chicago Metro Chapter Scholar-Athlete Awards at Halas Hall. Three high school seniors receive college scholarships and trophies for their excellence on the football field, in the classroom and in the community. The scholarships are provided through a partnership between Bears Care and the National Football Foundation. Additionally, the Chicago Bears Community Champion Award is presented to three high school football players in recognition of their tremendous civic involvement.
High School 7-on-7 Tournament
Every year, the Chicago Bears host eight high schools from Chicago Public Schools at the Walter Payton Center on June that competed in a 7-on-7 tournament. The top three schools each receive a grant from the Bears to help support their high school’s football program.