With cheers of “USA!” “USA!” filling the auditorium, Evan Lysacek returned to Neuqua Valley High School to a welcome fit for a hero.
“I think the best way to be a role model as an athlete is to lead by example and that’s what I’ve always tried to do,” Evan said to thousands of students. “I think that’s a serious responsibility.”
And he has exemplified his new title as a personable and humble new star by taking time out to do interviews with the school TV station as well as the student newspaper.
The school also honored Lysacek’s legacy by renaming a street Evan Lysacek Way. And they awarded and welcomed Evan to an elite group of Neuqua Valley High School’s distinguished alumni.
“He was really nice to us when we asked questions, “said Pallavi Bamzai, a senior at Neuqua. “I think he shows if you put in hard work, you can get what you want.”
And a few students took that message to heart and precociously asked for his hand in marriage or others, like Corinne Sheley, simply held up a poster requesting him as a prom-date.
“I hope he says yes, “the hopeful student said.
While it has only been a few years since Evan graduated in 2003, his teachers and Superintendent still remember his dedication to his craft. This rally was also his way of saying thank you.
“I remember being here and just how safe I felt within the walls of this schools, how this was my time to be normal and be a normal student and not [have to] deal with the pressures of being an Olympic athlete.” Lysacek said.
Though the expectations have been raised, Lysacek is taking it all in stride, just like the days when he was simply a high school student.
Kathy Birkett, now Superintendent of Indian Prarie District 204 was Neuqua’s Principal during Evan’s tenure, and was touched by Evan’s candor.
“The fact that he said that really warmed my heart, “she said.
All in all, Lysacek’s message to the new classes at his former school: “You can do anything. If you have a dream, don’t be afraid of it.”
And Lysacek is now living proof that dreams – with some hard work – really can come true.