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Prep Sports

A Super Bowl with a personal touch

The Allegretti family celebrates on the field Jan. 19 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City after the Chiefs beat the Titans in the AFC title game.
The Allegretti family celebrates on the field Jan. 19 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City after the Chiefs beat the Titans in the AFC title game.

I’ll be watching the Super Bowl between Kansas City and San Francisco for one significant reason.

While this Super Bowl has a lot of great storylines, it’s most interesting for me because for only the second time, a player that I got the opportunity to write about during his high school career will play in the biggest event in American sports.

I reported on Rob Ninkovich when he was at Lincoln-Way Central, and he went on to play in three Super Bowls with the Patriots, winning two of them.

This time, it’s an athlete that I wrote about on both the football field and the wrestling mat. Nick Allegretti, a graduate of Lincoln-Way East and the University of Illinois, is a rookie offensive lineman with the Chiefs, who are making their first Super Bowl trip in 50 years.

Nick was an All-State selection in football and wrestling while at Lincoln-Way East, and he enjoyed a fine career at Illinois, where the two-time team captain played in 48 games, including 36 consecutive starts over his final three seasons.

Besides receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the university, he received numerous awards for all of the great charity work that he was involved with, and also earned recognition for both his academic work and his sportsmanship while representing the Illini.

This season, he got the opportunity to play in seven regular-season games and also in both playoff victories for the Chiefs.

I talked with his dad, Carl, who said that he already had planned to bring his family to watch the Super Bowl, the 10th that he’s been to, but now that visit takes on a much greater significance, since Nick won’t be in the stands, but on the field.

“You talk about how it’s an honor to play in the Super Bowl, but it’s an honor to play in the NFL,” Carl Allegretti said. “He got drafted, and that was a dream come true. Kansas City is a great organization and great town, and the people have embraced him, and we love going there. It is a lot about hard work, but the stars lined up with him being drafted by the Chiefs and then making it with them. I’m very fortunate, and we’ve had a blast.”

He talked about the significance of his son being able to play in East-West Shrine Game, where he started at center and played at right and left guard in the final half. And how he benefited from training with former Bears center Olin Kreutz last December and January. And also the special day when he was picked in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Chiefs.

His dad said that he’s seen all but three of Nick’s games and even went to the Chiefs’ game in Mexico City. Another highlight was their win over the Bears at Soldier Field, where his coach at East, Rob Zvonar, was honored with his team for winning the Class 8A championship.

One of the biggest joys of telling stories during the past 33 years has been being around all of the good people who are involved in athletics. The Allegrettis have been great supporters of athletics at both Lincoln-Way East and my alma mater, Illinois, and I’m grateful that I’ve been able to know them, and I’m happy that I’ve been able to write about a quality person like Nick.

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