With the regularly scheduled high school football season postponed due to COVID protocols, seniors looking to further their playing careers were left wondering whether colleges would take a chance on them with no recent film to show how they have improved from the previous season.
Still amidst all the uncertainty, Pierce’s Luke Voorhees and Nathan VanLaningham have proven that hard work, both in the classroom and in preparation to take the field, pays off as they both accepted offers to continue their playing days at the next level.
While both student-athletes possess the necessary talent, proud Pierce coach Anthony Tapia touched upon other factors that contributed to his players moving on to the next level.
“Both guys are academically strong, which is great to see. That they were able to take care of both elements is a tribute to their parents raising them right and making sure they were ready for the next step. When you have that, things fall into place,” said Tapia.
Voorhees, after entertaining offers from UCLA, Valparaiso and UC Davis, got the call from Boise State, the place where he’d always hoped to play.
“It’s my dream,” said the senior who is also the valedictorian of his graduating class. “It’s the team my dad and brother and I rooted for because they were always the underdog. I just can’t describe how happy I am.”
Signing as a preferred walk-on to play tight end for Boise, Voorhees recognized that the opportunity will be his greatest challenge thus far, but is ready for it as Tapia explained, “This has been a long time coming for Luke. He took school and athletics seriously and did everything that was asked of him. He has a great support system in his family, which has really prepared him for this opportunity.”
In choosing Boise, Voorhees may be the first Pierce football player to go Division I since Tom Sweet went to New Mexico State nearly five decades earlier.
Heading even farther east than Voorhees is VanLaningham, who will join the team at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa, an NAIA school that competes in the Great Plains Conference.
VanLaningham, said there was a number of things that he found appealing about Dordt, which has approximately 1500 students and strong cooperative spirit.
“I like the Christian leadership that it offers and the sense of community. There are people already reaching out to offer support and I’m even excited about seeing what the weather is like,” said the future Defender offensive lineman.
In characterizing VanLaningham, Tapia spoke of work ethic and strength of character saying, “Nate is a four year story in terms of development. His growth from his freshman year until now has been tremendous. His success is due to hard work, determination and wanting to do great things. That desire is really something rare.”
Thus, while the effects of the pandemic have resulted in many things over the past year being taken away, it is not only exciting for the Arbuckle community, but also for anyone who enjoys Colusa County sports to see two student athletes rewarded for both their ability and perseverance. §