Stepping off the Field


If the opportunity is there, would you take it? 

It’s only so often that someone is good enough to play sports at the college level. 

But not everybody takes up on that offer. 

Lakeland has had quite a few star athletes. Many of those athletes attend college after high school, but only a handful go to college for sports. 

Some decide that college-level sports aren’t for them, even with the option.

John Cornish, a senior at Lakeland high school, is known as a very talented running back for the Lakeland Hawks.

Since the Hawks season ended, he shares his plans and goals for the future.

Cornish started playing football in kindergarten. Cornish said the moment he decided he loved football was when he scored his first touchdown. 

Cornish claims, “It just felt too easy, and I did a little front flip in the end zone.”

Cornish said his dad motivates him. 

“It was just me and him growing up, and he’d always be outside playing with me and setting up little drills for me. It has been pretty much him since day one.” Cornish said.

Cornish claims his mind is always changing, but he doesn’t plan to play football in college despite his successful high school season. 

Cornish said he plans on going to college and wishes to study photography. Photography is a new hobby for Cornish. He adds, “It’s like therapy.”

He discovered his love for photography when he joined Mr. Dunn’s yearbook class, and he got to hold a camera. 

“I’m just tired of getting beat up because I am small. I get beat up by those big guys, and I do not really want to do that anymore,” Cornish said.

Cornish cut off communications with coaches, but he still has a few coaches he’s been communicating with just in case his mind changes. 

Yet he just stopped talking to them because he wants to do something else for now.

After high school, Cornish said, “I don’t have any plans, but I trust God.” 

Cornish said he’s really going to miss high school sports with the celebrations and memories that came with it and the boys.

Cornish said his favorite memory was “The locker room when we beat Post Falls. All of us just going crazy and beating lockers and listening to it was just amazing. That is one of the best feelings ever.”

Cornish finished with, “Do what you love and don’t let anyone else decide what you need to do. Let yourself decide that.”

There are others similar to Cornish. His friend Thomas Calder is very similar. He is pursuing something other than football, despite his success at the high school level.

Some might say that Cornish and Calder were the natural duos for Lakeland athletics and that it is a shame that they are not pursuing college football. 

Calder says what got him into football was his natural size and strength in the 5th grade, 

Calder stood out for being very strong in this age group, and he saw it as a sign to continue due to his early growth.

He felt he was at an advantage, so he was motivated to work harder.

Calder says that Dan Loutzenhiser was his first football coach, and he was the one who added to his love for football.

“He was really good about it and helped a lot,” Calder said. 

Calder attended many football camps during his sophomore and junior years because he had plans to play at the college level.

He looked and applied for recruiting schools but soon changed his mind going into his senior year.

Calder plans to attend lineman school at the Parker Center in Rathdrum. 

“I decided to do that because I didn’t really want to go to school for another 4 years,” Calder adds.

“Even though I’m going to miss football very much, I would rather go straight into the workforce and make money.”

Another reason Calder says he’s done with football is how hard it is on his body.

“Not that I did not like getting hit; I liked it a lot; it just gives you a good feeling inside,” Calder said. 

Calder again mentions how he did not like the thought of more school.

Calder has no offers, he says, although he could have found a school if his mind had not changed. 

Calder just plans on making linework his profession and will go to college later if he feels the need to progress in this profession.

Calder says he is going to miss sports a lot, including football and track.

Calder shares a favorite memory with Cornish. Beating Post Falls and Lake City.

Calder says they haven’t beaten Lake City from 5th grade up until now, and it was a memory he will not forget.

Another former Hawks football player, Alden Waddington, who graduated in 2022 from Lakeland high school, has a similar story to John Cornish.

Waddington realized his love for football when former coach of Lakeland, Brian Etchison, told Waddington that he could go places and be very good.

Waddington said his parents were his influence, along with his old friends.

As Waddington finished his senior year at Lakeland, he played football one last time as he decided he had other plans straying away from college-level football. 

Waddington tells of his offers to play football at the college level. 

“I did have aspirations to play college football, but then I got into EMT and chose to step away.”

An EMT is one who saves lives during respiratory and cardiac emergencies. With this found love, Waddington stepped away from the many offers he had, including D1, he adds.

“It didn’t make me happy, and I didn’t want to pursue,” Waddington said on turning away his D1 offers for a different profession.

Waddington finishes by saying he misses high school sports every day. 

“I wish I could go back and play again. I’m glad I’m not playing college, but I think about high school every day.”

2022 graduate Bryce Henry played basketball all four years of high school and now is pursuing something else for a profession, learning that he was done with basketball.

Henry started his basketball journey when he was six years old. 

Henry said, “There were two things that got me into basketball, my dad, for one. Also, when I saw the Suns play on tv, I got to see the legend Steve Nash go off.”

“I realize it was the sport I was going to play throughout high school because it was the sport I had the most fun playing with my friends,” said Henry

Henry claims he was in contact with a few colleges during his high school career ranging from Oregon to California and NIC.

“I was actually going to play at NIC this year but ended up choosing not to play, but Jalen Skalskiy and I have talked about playing next year at NIC.”

With this, Henry said that sports might be in the future with a close friend. He said he is definitely going to miss high school sports, and he already does.

Henry said, “I feel like I left a good name for myself and left a good mark on the basketball program.”

Henry claims to have many favorite memories during his four years of high school basketball.

Henry said if he had to pick, it would be going to state his junior year with the best team to ever come through Lakeland, which consisted of his best friends and teammates.

Athletic Director Matt Neff commented on John Cornish and Thomas Calder furthering their education. 

Neff said, “It is fantastic. College is one avenue you can take. There are many avenues with opportunities open doors when high school is over.”

College, trade schools, military, and entrepreneurship Neff says, are a few of the pathways after high school. 

Neff said that dedication gives them a better chance at success in the future. 

“The future is bright for both of them, whether they go to college or not.” 

But the future awaits for these athletes, and there is no doubt their names will come up again. As Neff said, bright futures await for them and future Hawks.