ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. — The Chicago Bears may not have come close to the playoffs, but two suburban communities still have reason to cheer Super Bowl Sunday.
Jimmy Garoppolo, starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, was raised in Arlington Heights and went to high school in Rolling Meadows.
And those who knew him when, couldn’t be happier to root for the 49ers and Jimmy, of course.
Garoppolo graduated from Rolling Meadows High School in 2010. While he was there, he was coached on the football field by Tony Wolanski.
“Everyone is just proud,” he said. “We’re so happy he has this moment where he is going to be a starter in the Super Bowl.”
Wolanski said back then, and even now, Garoppolo, was known as a humble, hardworking leader on and off the field. And he had a natural talent in every sport he played.
"Jimmy was a motivator,” he said. “He made everyone better.”
Wolanski saw Garoppolo four weeks ago after one of Garoppolo’s games on the road. He spoke with Wolanski and his wife for 30 minutes postgame.
All over town, even those who don’t know #10 personally are rallying behind him and the 49ers.
At Rep’s Place, a sports bar and grill owned by Mike Reppe, an old high school jersey of Garoppolo’s hangs on the wall.
“Everybody is talking about it, from 5-year-old to seniors,” Reppe said. “Everyone is taking pride that he lives down the street. … They have something positive to talk about locally.”
For years, Garoppolo backed up Tom Brady and even brought home two Super Bowl rings. But this year, it’s Garoppolo’s show as the starting quarterback. The pressure is on, but he’s learned from the best.
“We just want him to bring home that trophy,” Wolanski said.
Rep’s Bar and Grill will be hosting a watch party on Super Bowl Sunday. Everybody will be a 49ers fan that day. And if you dress for it, wearing a Garoppolo t-shirt or jersey, the owner is going to give you a discount.