Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

'Super' football experience

Vikings treat family to big game fun


February 8, 2018

courtesy Lilya family

Danny Lilya sits in the stands overlooking the field at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Danny Lilya, 16, Moose Lake, was still recovering Monday evening from a late night after the February 4 Super Bowl LII held at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

"We got to the stadium around 1 p.m.," he said. "We watched the game and then the presentation of the trophy before we headed home. We got home at 1:30 in the morning."

Two tickets to the Super Bowl were presented to Danny early in December by Vikings players after he was invited to U.S. Bank Stadium and held the football for eight to 10 field goals for the kicker.

"I knew right away I would take my brother, Michael," Danny said.

"That was really nice," said Michael. "He's not usually like that."

Then a call came from the Vikings telling the family they were sending two more tickets to the Super Bowl.

"I knew I would take my dad (Dan)," said Danny. "Mom was going to come, but she decided we should take my coach (Dave Louzek). He was a good fit."

Danny was also given tickets to the Super Bowl Experience at the Minneapolis Convention Center. His mother, Sheryl, went on that trip on Monday, January 29.

"They had all sorts of football activities," said Danny. "You could kick field goals, punting, running a 40-yard dash and all kinds of other fun things."

"They had an obstacle course," Sheryl added. "Danny and Michael raced through it. Dan and I kicked the ball."

Danny said they saw the Super Bowl trophy on display at the convention center.

"It was awesome to see it up close," he said. "It was behind glass so we couldn't touch it."

The family also went to the Nicollet Mall for more Super Bowl activities on Saturday, the day before the game."

The Lilyas and Louzek enjoyed the game.

"It was exciting all the way through," said Danny. "The score kept going back and forth. But it was strange to see the Eagles' and the Patriots' colors in the stands. We always see people wearing purple when the Vikings play."

The Lilyas and Louzek had good seats and were able to sit together.

"We were about on the 20-25-yard line and not too high up," said Dan. "There were no obstacles in front of us and the area behind us was roped off."

Danny said that he was rooting for the New England Patriots.

"I was sort of a Patriots fan," he said. "I was a little upset when they lost but it really didn't bother me too much."

The Lilyas and Louzek also saw Justin Timberlake perform during the game's halftime show.

"It was pretty cool to see him," said Danny. "But the sound was too quiet. Everyone in the stadium was loud."

It wasn't only the chance to attend the Super Bowl in Minnesota that was newsworthy, Danny's story was told once again in the media, including national media. He appeared on CBS Sunday Morning on the day of the Super Bowl.

People around the nation - Montana, Georgia and Florida, to name a few - reported on Facebook they had seen the story on CBS. Many were past Moose Lake graduates.

Dan Williamson of WDIO TV reported on the 10 p.m. news that he had talked to Danny during the game.

"He spent about 10 minutes with us," said Danny.

Danny's story was in other media as well, including FOX – Minneapolis, WCCO-TV, KARE 11 TV, NFL Network, KDLH-TV, KBJR-TV, Duluth News Tribune, Minneapolis Star and others.

The Lilya family is still finding Danny's fame hard to believe.

courtesy Lilya family

Danny Lilya, seated, with Moose Lake/Willow River Rebels Football Coach Dave Louzek, Danny's dad, Dan, and brother, Michael, at the Super Bowl February 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

"We thought his winning the Spirit of Sport Award last spring was the top honor," said Dan. "But it just keeps going on and on."

Because Danny's story has been told in the media, Danny had a chance to go to northern Oklahoma early in January to deer hunt, a first for him.

"The people that owned the property contacted us when they had seen a story about Danny," said Dan. "They said he was a very inspiring young man. He shot two bucks and two does. They are going to come and do more camera work when he plays hockey. That story will be aired on the Outdoor Channel in March."

Danny was the center of attention on Monday when he went back to school.

"The kids and teachers were asking me lots of questions," he said. "I'm a teacher's assistant for the second-grade class. They were asking me a lot of questions, too."

"It's been an eventful week," said Dan. "But it isn't over. He plays in a sled hockey tournament at the end of the month."


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