Mundelein High School senior Miguel Hernandez has earned plenty of accolades from his play on the football field and his achievements in the classroom. But on March 4, he added another to the list: The Chicago Bears Community High School All-Star Award.
The award recognizes high school football players who make a positive impact in their community and school. Miguel was the first of nine winners from throughout the state who are chosen because they exemplify service, leadership and character. Each winner receives a custom hand-painted football, a Bears backpack filled with swag, an invitation to a future Bears event and a $500 donation to a charity of their choice. Miguel selected the Center for Immigrant Progress as his charity.
MHS Football Coach Vince DeFrancesco, who nominated Miguel for the award, turned the award presentation into a surprise event at the school’s athletic office on Friday afternoon. Waiting in the office were two representatives from the Chicago Bears, MHS Athletic Director Troy Parola, Principal Anthony Kroll and other coaches and staff members.
“You embody everything that Mundelein football wants to represent,” DeFrancesco told him. “Tough, super hard-working, humble, leader, you just check all the boxes. We’re super proud of you.”
Miguel is a four-year honor roll student enrolled in AP college-level courses, a two-way starter (and captain) on the Mustangs football team, a two-year Academic All-Conference recipient, and the MHS representative of the 2021 North Suburban Conference Sportsmanship Award.
The MHS senior thanked his coaches for believing in him and pushing him to be the best version of himself both on and off the field.
“Throughout my experience in high school, I learned I could make a difference not only with my peers but in my community,” Miguel said. “I want to get better; leave my footprint in the school. I want to show the younger kids what it is to get better and how to take the extra step that really takes the program to another level.”
DeFrancesco called Miguel “one of the hardest working players in the football program” and “a major contributor to the MHS community.”
“Miguel really earned this award,” DeFrancesco said. “He not only competes on the field, but in the classroom. He’s been heavily involved in our community as a volunteer, leader and mentor. Miguel is truly a stand-out individual who impresses everyone he meets.”
Miguel regularly volunteers for community service at the Chapel of Mundelein, has worked on Mundelein Community Food Drives in the past two years and is a two-year peer tutor for the MHS Avid program, where he mentors and tutors fellow students who may be falling short of their academic potential. He also volunteers with the A-May-Zing Mundelein program which pairs a volunteer with a local police officer to help elderly and disabled residents with spring clean-up and handyman chores.
“It feels good just to help out the community,” Miguel said. “They give us so much, so it feels good to give back.”