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Making the Grade On and Off the Field

Making the Grade On and Off the Field


by Jackie Jenson
Photography by Kim J Photography

Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi famously once said, “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” Carson Tunheim, a lineman for the Detroit Lakes High School football team not only lives by this statement, he adds that hard work in the weight room provides lots of important muscle too.

A senior at Detroit Lakes High School, Tunheim is half way through his last year of high school. Although he says he will miss his friends and school after graduating this spring, he knows he is leaving his alma mater confident he accomplished all he set out to do to the very best of his abilities, something he always strives to achieve.

A three–sport athlete, Carson is unique in that his sports have changed through the years, but he has always excelled at more than a few along the way. In addition to football and hockey, two sports where he saw a lot of success, he also participated in track and field as a thrower, played some baseball and shot trap for the high school trapshooting team.

“I enjoy lots of sports and have always enjoyed fishing and hunting. I use to take those cheap plastic kiddie pools as a kid, and I’d fill them up with water and sunfish I had caught off the dock, that way I could swim with the fish,” notes Tunheim. “So trap shooting was a good fit, but who knows, I might give tennis a try this spring.”

As for football, it has been a big part of Tunheim’s life since he first stepped onto the gridiron in the sixth grade.

“Back then I tried out to be a tight end and ended up a defensive lineman, probably because of my size,” comments Tunheim.
Today, Tunheim plays defensive tackle and fullback for Lakers where he received All-Section Lineman of the year for Minnesota State High School League, Section 8AAAA 2016 season.

“I won the team award for lineman of the year,” remarks Tunheim. “I didn’t think I’d be named to All-Section, but I am very happy to have won. It was quite a surprise,” continues the senior football captain.

Carson credits recently retired DL football coach and mentor, Flint Motschenbacher with teaching him how to train effectively and be a solid football player, remarking that the long time football coach always stressed that hard work always pays off, a sentiment he carries with him daily.

“He taught me to be the type of football player I am today. He always told us to do our best and you’ll be the best.”

Current Detroit Lakes High School Football Coach, Josh Omang, appreciates the great work ethic Tunheim brought to practice and the game itself over the 2016 season. Omang notes Carson was an effective player and captain because he is a hard worker, and very genuine.

“Carson is a lead-by-example kind of guy. He is also the strongest kid in our program mostly because of his commitment to the weight room and our weight program in the offseason,” comments Omang.

It is Tunheim’s commitment to the team and his training program that makes him such a valuable player and leader, continues Omang, adding the captain/lineman always does his best in whatever he is doing.

“He [Carson] was a physical and emotional leader on our defense, totaling five sacks as an interior defensive lineman. Additionally, he played a role on our offense as a fullback scoring three rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown. Overall he is very coachable, has a great work ethic, and is willing to sacrifice for the good of the team. These are his most important attributes that will give him a chance to be successful in any situation,” explains Omang.
Another accolade bestowed upon Tunheim this season was being selected to and playing in the Minnesota All Star Game held in Minneapolis on December 3rd at US Bank Stadium. He played for the Minnesota North All Stars.

“It is a very important honor for any high school athlete, but one that validates the good work that he did in our program as well,” continues the coach.

Upon further examination, Tunheim adds that the 2016 season really stood out as a special one. Not just because it was his senior year or because he was recognized with a number of distinctive awards, but everything just seemed to come together.

“This year in football really was my favorite. To be able to be a leader on our team as a senior and to do that with my friend Tristan Wimmer was great. I played hockey with him as well so this was just a great end to our high school football careers.”

As a bonus to the season, Tunheim discovered another passion within the game he had played so long: mentoring younger players.

“I love motivating and helping out underclassman. To be a good role model and help the younger players is what my coaches have always taught us, and it was my turn to lead. It was great to put that into action this season,” says Tunheim. “I have had so many great coaches through the years who have taught me to work hard and be a good leader too. People like Coach Omang this year, who really helped me become a role model to the younger players.”

Carson acknowledges a number of great coaches have helped him to be a successful on and off the field, teaching him everything from the importance of good sportsmanship to simply being nice to everyone on the team.
Says Tunheim, “Being a captain on my 9th grade Bantam hockey team also helped shaped what kind of player I wanted to be. Ben Noah, our coach, really showed me how conditioning and hard work pays off in the end which helped me become the person I am today,” notes Tunheim. “He also taught me to respect and be nice to everyone, to lead by example,” continues the senior lineman.

Hockey has been an important part of Carson’s life too – something he has participated in since the second grade. Slightly burnt out and looking to shake things up his senior year, Tunheim traded in his hockey skates for a pair of wrestling shoes in 2016. A change in sport direction for the high school senior.

“I tried wrestling this year and saw some early success, but it ended up just not being the sport for me,” comments the football player, adding, “Maybe tennis will fit the bill this spring?”

In addition to sports, though, Tunheim has aspirations of attending a great Minnesota college, and one day working for the Department of Natural Resources or U.S. Wildlife Department.

“I like science, especially physics, as well as weight training and was accepted academically to the University of Minnesota Duluth, but I am also looking at Bemidji State University and Concordia College in Moorhead as well.”

In this regard, academics come first for Carson and sports second with respect to picking a college. The senior lineman is not ruling out the possibility of playing football in college. Said school, however, would have to be a good fit for his academic needs too.

“I might play a sport. I still enjoy them, but I am concentrating on grades at this point in school as I am taking Calculus, Academic Writing and a few other college level classes this year.”

Reflecting on his time at DLHS, the senior football captain has a simple bit of advice for all high school athletes – a few words of wisdom that remind us all that sports are first and foremost games which are intended to be played for fun.

Concludes the senior lineman, “The one thing I always tell all the underclassman is to have fun in whatever you are doing. Play sports because you want to, not because you have to; and have fun while you’re doing it!” SV