'It's very special': Mahomet native Jason Seaman receives a hero's welcome

Hundreds filled the stands at Frank Dutton Field giving Mahomet native Jason Seaman a hero's welcome during Friday's first home football game and Dawgapalooza celebration.

The crowd greeted Seaman with a standing ovation. The 2007 Mahomet-Seymour grad is credited with tackling and disarming a student shooter who entered his classroom at Indiana's Noblesville West Middle School in May.

"This is home, so it's got a special meaning," Seaman told The News-Gazette last week. "It's where I grew up, it's where I played, it's got a lot of sentimental value."

The Mahomet-Seymour school district honored Seaman with a framed No. 99 M-S jersey, the number he proudly wore from 2003-06 as a defensive end for the Bulldogs before being named The News-Gazette's 2007 Male Athlete of the Year.

"We didn't want to just give him a plaque or a trophy," Superintendent Lindsey Hall said. "It all worked out so wonderfully to honor Jason on the field at the school where he put in so much time and performed academically and athletically."

Matt Hensley, the Mahomet-Seymour High School athletic director, said the school district came up with the idea to provide Seaman with a jersey during a brainstorming session.

"I only had the opportunity to know Jason as a student here for one year. He was a senior my first year here, but obviously he's a pretty impactful kid — both on and off the court," Hensley said. "I had the opportunity to follow his college career from afar. I had the opportunity to see him play for Southern Illinois one year."

"When we can highlight one of our graduates like a Jason Seaman and bring them back to campus, it's such an awesome thing to do for them and for our school and for our community," he added.

Seaman also received a replica honorary street sign from Village President Sean Widener. The signage will be displayed near his childhood home at the intersection of Walnut and East Oak streets.

Two proclamations were also provided to Seaman signed, respectively, by Gov. Bruce Rauner and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton.

"As far as the proclamations, that was a conversation that I had with Sen. Chapin Rose," Hall said. "He said, 'Yup, we'll make it happen,'" she added.

The planning to honor Seaman began over the summer. Hall said it was a collaborative partnership between the school district and the village.

"It all just fell in place," she said. "The whole thing seemed to be really positive and a happy night and just a great chance to say thank you to one of our alums and someone who grew up here and someone we can all be very proud of."

Recognition aside, Seaman was grateful for an evening filled with family and friends under the Friday night lights.

"It's very special," he said. "I have a lot of close friends who still work here and live here and now they've got children. They've got families and are beginning roots here," Seaman added. "Coming back here and spending that time with them is something we all enjoy."

Toting son Jamison on his shoulders as he greeted the crowd, Seaman said it "baffles" and "humbles" him to see the compassion and outreach his hometown provided him.

"It just shows the greatness of human interaction," he said.

"I'm always looking ahead to better myself and provide opportunities for my family, but I never take it for granted. The day that happened in May just reinforced that. When I can take him (his son) places and we can get all sweaty and hang out and have family time and watch this stuff, it's just great."

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