Players, families and community members took time to celebrate a dream that was 11 years in the making and finally came true -- the Lake Zurich High School Boys Lacrosse team as state champions.
The team's motto "Dream Big, Work Hard," was referenced by many of the players and coaches who spoke at a celebration of the team Sunday, a gathering of more than 100 people at the high school field house after a short parade through town.
"Right now, we are living our dream. We did it, we won the cup," said team co-captain Grant Soucy.
The Lake Zurich Bears won the first state championship for the school's lacrosse program, which is only 11 years old and finished with a 19-5 record. They beat Naperville Central High School 13-6 last weekend to capture the B-Class state championship
Elected officials from Lake Zurich, Hawthorn Woods, Deer Park and Kildeer were in attendance, all wearing Lake Zurich High School lacrosse hats.
"State championships don't come around very often," Lake Zurich Village President Tom Poynton told the team of 34 players. "You made history."
Poynton read a proclamation and declared this week in honor of the Lake Zurich team.
Head coach Chuck Vozas thanked the team, parents and community for support throughout the season.
"We had our ups and downs this season, but I'll give credit to the boys on this: It was a 109-day season and they never lost focus for one of those 109 days," he said.
Assistant Coach Phil Faris said watching the team win the state championship was the highlight of his career, which includes being with the Lake Zurich program all 11 years.
"It's not just that you won, but how you played the game all season," he said.
Faris said the team has now set a template for a winning team and organization that others will emulate.
When the Lake Zurich lacrosse program started in 2002, there were 28 players. Now, between youth programs and the high school teams, there are more than 200, he said.
The growth of the program and its feeder teams was visible just outside the pep rally as a youth lacrosse tournament with more than 60 teams was being hosted at Lake Zurich fields.
"This doesn't happen by accident," Faris said. "This is a win for the whole organization and has created a legacy for this team that will be remembered."