Sarah and Pat Phalen, All Star Preps Capital Region, Ed CurtisFormer Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher offered some great advice to an audience of outstanding high school athletes: “You know what’s right, and you know what’s wrong. Do what’s right.”

Urlacher made this comment at the recent All Star Preps Capital Region Awards Banquet honoring high school athletes. Earlier this year, INB was asked to sponsor this first-time event. And saying “yes” just felt right. As soon as we stepped into the event venue, we quickly knew we’d made a good call.

Waiting for the student athletes, their families and coaches was a night meant to thank and honor them for their commitment to our community. We’ve truly enjoyed being their cheerleaders at countless games, meets and tournaments, and now it was our turn to give back.

The convention center was transformed into an elegant dining area complete with an ice sculpture and glowing centerpieces. At the same time, the stage was set to include large screens so no one in the audience missed a bit of the action. There were professional photographers capturing the moments, and an event wall was in place for individual and group portraits. Video programs produced exclusively for the event told the stories of the major award winners. This video summary of the event will give you an idea of the experience.

The highlight of the evening was a simply staged question and answer session with Urlacher. While the State Journal-Register sports editor and recently retired sports editor asked most of the questions, young adults in the audience got the chance to ask some as well. What resulted was a relaxed, insightful, and humorous presentation. Below are a few of those Qs and As.

Q: Having grown up in New Mexico, were you initially concerned about playing football in a cold climate like Chicago?

Urlacher: As a defensive player, you want to play in Chicago. Chicago is known as a defensive team. Chicago winters didn’t scare me off. I enjoyed the cold and we used it to our advantage. Think of the fans that come out for games no matter what!

Q: Given all the emphasis on concussions, will you let your son play football.

Urlacher: I understand concussion concerns. I tell my son if he plays, he’s going to get hurt. But he loves playing, and I want him to love whatever he does. I also think we know so much more about concussions now, and there are more precautions in place.

InsightfulBrian Urlacher, All Star Preps Capital Region
Q: Did you ever think about quitting?

Urlacher: In the 5th grade I played baseball. I hated it. I always struck out. I wanted to quit. My mom told me I couldn’t quit what I started. I cried about it. I was a crybaby. But I ended up completing the season and going on to play through 9th grade.

Q: If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?

Urlacher: Win a Super Bowl. We didn’t do that. We didn’t get back to the playoffs after 06.

Q: Is football more mental or more physical?

Urlacher: It’s both, but it’s a very mental sport. You have to be a good athlete, but if you’re mentally prepared you can move more quickly than someone who’s not. Mental strength helps you play faster.

Q: What is your most memorable tackle?

Urlacher: I got hit really hard in the 8th grade. I won’t forget that.

Q: What do you think of the Chicago-Green Bay rivalry?

Urlacher: It’s annoying that (Green Bay) is so good every year.

Q: Will you ever take part in Dancing with the Stars?

Urlacher: I’ve told them “no” a couple of times. I just don’t think my body could take it. Yes, I understand David Ross did it. I must have missed that season. Oh . . . I’ve missed every season.

At the beginning and end of the Q&A, Urlacher thanked the parents and coaches in the room, and told the students what an amazing event they were a part of. And that was a resounding endorsement for sponsors like INB that we’d made the right choice when it came to sponsoring this inaugural event.