Return to Headlines

McHenry grad, Packers tight end Tonyan encourages young people to stick with their dreams

Those who follow Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan Jr. likely can recall his first catch in the NFL -- a 54-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers. But they may not remember the struggles in the McHenry High School graduate’s career leading up to that Nov. 15, 2018 moment.

Social media often doesn’t depict the hard moments in life, Tonyan, a 2012 East Campus graduate, said during a May 19 speech to the 2019 McHenry High School Distinguished Warriors.

“People don’t talk about their negatives,” he said.

Tonyan said keeping his ultimate goal in sight helped him deal with adversity, which includes his release from the Detroit Lions in 2017. Tonyan encouraged the 147 Distinguished Warriors to work hard and never give up.

“All I needed was a chance. That’s all you guys need, too,” said Tonyan said at the Distinguished Warriors banquet at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Crystal Lake. “You can’t quit, because the next day something good can happen.”

McHenry High School administrators said Tonyan’s message was the one they were looking for to celebrate the Distinguished Warriors, graduating seniors who meet several criteria in academics, activities and community service.

Carl Vallianatos, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for McHenry High School District 156, said the Distinguished Warrior program was created to encourage students to develop positive lifelong habits.

“We realize that success goes beyond academics,” Vallianatos said.

The fifth annual Distinguished Warriors banquet was sponsored by Buss Ford Lincoln, Gary Lang Auto Group, and Sunnyside Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, who also awarded two $1,000 scholarships. Two Distinguished Warriors were also honored for entering into active duty military service.

For more details about the Distinguished Warrior program, visit the District 156 website.


Robert Tonyan Jr.