By Jordin Ereth
The City of Lakewood and Clover Park School District honored Super Bowl champion and Seattle Seahawk Jermaine Kearse with a hero's homecoming Saturday at Harry E. Lang Stadium.
There was a slight breeze as the sun shined down on the field - the same field that Jermaine played during his tenure at Lakes High School. Yet even with clear skies, the sun couldn't compete with the gleaming smile Kearse displayed as he approached the podium.
Hundreds of fans filled the stadium seats to see the Seahawks wideout, but none were as excited to see Kearse as his former high school coach Dave Miller. Miller gave some words regarding Jermaine's achievements during his high school career, in which he praised his "integrity and work ethic." Miller also touched on the Lakewood product's multiple awards, such as Tacoma News Tribune 2008 Player of the Year, his All-League, All-State and All-American honors, and even the receiving records he currently holds at the University of Washington.
Miller wasn't the only one to praise Jermaine's achievements. Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson spoke of Jermaine with a passionate and honorable tone. With a nod to the stands, he commented on the gathering of the celebration.
"It's nice to see our community united in sport, and so many other ways. You know, it's only four months until the NFL pre-season begins." He followed this statement by conjuring a "SEA-HAWKS" chant from both sides of the stadium. He continued with a colorful description of Jermaine's heroic Super Bowl touchdown, describing him as a "pinball spinning off of defenders," and that "a spectacular catch such as that is the kind of dream that inspires millions." He closed his speech by handing Jermaine the Key to the City - only the second time that's ever happened in Lakewood - and officially declaring April 12 "Jermaine Kearse Day" in the City of Lakewood.
When Jermaine finally approached the podium, he did so with a humble "thank you" to his biggest inspirations. "I want to thank God and the City of Lakewood for the opportunity to play the sport I love."
He followed that by thanking the fans, "I also want to thank you all for coming and showing up. I didn't think I was that big of a deal." Kearse jokingly added the last part, but he also offered words of inspiration to the youths in his fan base during an impromptu Q&A session.
When asked what advice he would give the students regarding their dreams and aspirations, he responded "Don't believe the lie. Don't ever say 'I can't.' Continue to work hard, and shoot for the stars."
After the ceremony Kearse sat under a shaded media tent to answer questions and sign autographs for the Seahawk faithful. Jermaine immedately hit it off with the young fans showing poise and heart-felt charisma - a surprising feat for such a young professional. When asked how he felt about receiving the Key to the City he grew up in, he responded "It's mindblowing. I might try and be mayor of this city."
A simple joke, sure. But with the support he receives from this community, his legitimacy as a candidate may not be much of a laughing matter after all.