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Athlete of the Month

By Colin Anderson

Matthew Whitcomb, Senior

Lake City High School

Those who watched a Lake City football game last fall got to see an awful lot of senior Matthew Whitcomb. Matthew not only started for the varsity team for three years straight but did so on both sides of the ball. On defense, he set the school record by forcing six fumbles in a season. Over on the offensive side, he finished his senior season with 56 receptions for 873 yards and nine touchdowns.

“The thing I love the most about playing football is just the feeling when you're down on the field, you can hear the crowd, smell the grass and just go out and be the person you worked so hard to become,” said Matthew.

While not offered a scholarship, Matthew plans on attending Boise State this fall as a walk-on in hopes of earning his way onto the team and eventually realizing a dream he’s had since he first began playing. “I've been working toward my dream (to make it to the NFL) since I was 9, so I have the fire inside myself to keep me going. I just had to focus more on my mental game than anything, and once I got that down, I felt like I was unstoppable,” he said.

While the hard work and dedication have always been there for Matthew, he admits that being confident in his abilities is something that didn’t come naturally. He believes a combination of learning on the field and influential coaches have helped him become an even greater athlete. “I didn't have much confidence in myself over the years, and I always felt like I wasn't good enough. However, a big life lesson I have learned over the years from my coaches is that yes, in that moment, things might feel like they are too hard and won't get better, but you will survive and you will get through it if you just keep pushing forward.”

Matthew is also a state champion wrestler at the 182-pound weight and holds the Lake City record for most pins in a season at 31. At Boise State he plans on studying nutrition and hopes by continuing his playing career he can also share his faith with a large audience, as it is a very big part of his own life and who he is.

Luke McLaughlin, Senior

Coeur d’Alene High School

Photo by Nate Bullock

The name McLaughlin has become pretty synonymous with Coeur d’Alene Viking football. Brothers Kyler and Keagan started and played in back-to-back state championships in 2010 and 2011. The past four seasons it was Luke McLaughlin’s turn to make an impression, and an impression he did make.

While Luke got incredibly close to a state title, losing in 2019 to Rigby by one point in double OT and losing to Rocky Mountain in the semi-finals his senior season, he still is proud of his team’s achievements. Luke credits his father, a Boise State linebacker from ’88-’92, for instilling a passion for the game in him at a young age. He also believes his brothers played a big part in making him a top competitor. “Having three rowdy and strong brothers to teach me how to get back up after falling down (let’s be honest, they pushed me down) really gave me the edge early on,” he said.

Luke piled up many individual accolades during his Vikings career, which include: All-State Linebacker, Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and the 2019 Idaho Athletics Hall of Fame Athlete of the Year. He holds the Coeur d’Alene High School record for tackles in a game (25) and will challenge himself this fall as a preferred walk-on at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.

A gifted natural athlete, Luke still had to work extremely hard to achieve his goals. He learned perseverance at a very young age, having to undergo two knee operations before his 13th birthday, in 2009 and again in 2016.

“Those two surgeries were tough on me, both mentally and physically, but I learned to appreciate my body and understand how to prepare it for strenuous athletics,” he shared. “I was on crutches for a significant period of time and then had to learn how to walk and run correctly, not with the limp to which my body had become accustomed, so that became my focus for the following year. The PT and rehab that followed those surgeries prepared me physically and mentally for my high school football and basketball careers.”

At Furman, Luke plans to major in economics and following it up with an MBA. “I’m drawn to this field because I’m very interested in understanding more about money and how it affects the U.S. and worldwide economies,” he said.

Lastly, Luke wishes to thank the coaches who have pushed him to achieve his goals, including his youth coach Tony Prka. “In high school, my influential coaches include Coach Jeff Vesser, Coach Mike Vargas and, of course, Coach Shawn Amos. Go Vikings!”

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