High school graduation: Camas’ Sturbelle aims to play football for Air Force Academy

Luc Sturbelle will go to the Air Force Academy’s Prep School in hopes of earning his way to the academy

CAMAS — Luc Sturbelle figured it would all work out one way or another.

He just never imagined he would have the opportunity to work his way to the Air Force Academy.

Good things happen to those who perform at a high level in a number of areas.

Luc Sturbelle will graduate from Camas High School on Friday and then prepare for life as a student-athlete at the United States Air Force Academy Prep School. Photo courtesy of the Sturbelle family
Luc Sturbelle will graduate from Camas High School on Friday and then prepare for life as a student-athlete at the United States Air Force Academy Prep School. Photo courtesy of the Sturbelle family

The academy recruits those of strong character and of high academic standing, of course. And if one is an athlete, such as Sturbelle, there must be potential for greatness on the field, too.

Strong grades. Stronger test scores. Oh, and a 6-foot-5 frame as a wide receiver.  

The Air Force saw the potential and made him an offer.

Sturbelle, who is graduating from Camas on Friday, is leaving this summer to attend the Air Force Academy Prep School. If all goes to plan, he will move across the way to the academy the following year.

He still finds it difficult to comprehend just how he got to this point.

He had interest from a couple of college football programs, but he was nowhere near making a decision.

A 6-foot-5 wide receiver from Camas, Luc Sturbelle got noticed almost by accident by an Air Force football coach. He was offered a chance to go to prep school first, then join the Air Force Academy to play football. Photo by Mike Schultz
A 6-foot-5 wide receiver from Camas, Luc Sturbelle got noticed almost by accident by an Air Force football coach. He was offered a chance to go to prep school first, then join the Air Force Academy to play football. Photo by Mike Schultz

Out of the blue, the Air Force called.

This is how one just never knows: An Air Force assistant coach was talking to a coach from Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish. The Eastside coach had just finished scouting an opponent, Bellevue, and the game he watched was the Camas-Bellevue game.

“Have you seen this guy?” the high school coach asked the assistant.

Sturbelle caught eight passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns that night.

A check on Sturbelle’s academic record was clearly up to standards, and Air Force football got in touch.

“Oh shoot, I have to check this out,” Sturbelle recalled thinking.

Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun and assistant coach Mike Thiessen visited Sturbelle in Camas. On Jan. 25, Sturbelle went to the academy.

“They gave me a rundown. That just sold me on it,” Sturbelle said. “The campus, and everything it has to offer after graduation.”

They also stressed that service and education are the priorities over football.

“You have to be a student first at this school,” Sturbelle said. “That will be good for me. Be a student first, a player second.”

He got the offer, and he said yes. Still, there was a waiting game related to this recruiting story.

“Once you’re offered, you’re not automatically approved,” Sturbelle said. “I was nervous. I wasn’t sure.”

Luc Sturbelle said it will be sad when he has to cut his signature locks, but he said it is for a good reason. Photo courtesy of the Sturbelle family.
Luc Sturbelle said it will be sad when he has to cut his signature locks, but he said it is for a good reason. Photo courtesy of the Sturbelle family.

He got confirmation in the spring. He had a spot in prep school.

“It was just such a relief,” Sturbelle said. “That piece of paper means more than anything in my life right now. That’s my whole life now, my future.”

Which means he will have to say goodbye to something special in his present.

Sturbelle has had long hair his entire high school career. We are talking WWE superstar or model hair. And he knows it is part of what defines him.

Not for long, though.

“It’s going to be a sad day,” he acknowledged. “I’m going to miss it a lot. But it also can get annoying, always getting in my face. I can’t wait to have an almost bald head.”

Plus, this opportunity is worth the trip to the barber shop.

“This gives me a perfect excuse to cut it,” he said with a smile.

He believes he does have what it takes to one day become an officer. He understands that after college, that could mean being put in harm’s way.

“If it happens, that’s my job. That’s what I’ll do,” Sturbelle said.

He has faith in himself in large part from going through the Camas football program.

“They hold you to a super high standard all the time,” he said of the Papermakers.

Come to think of it, that sounds like the academy, as well.

“They are all about doing the little things right, doing your job. It’s about how you treat yourself, how you treat others,” Sturbelle continued.

That standard is why so many in Camas, beyond family and friends, pack Doc Harris Stadium on Friday nights to support the players.

“It’s meant a lot. The whole community supports you all the time,” Sturbelle said. “It’s crazy to play for this town.”

In the near future, Luc Sturbelle will take the lessons learned at Camas, and if all goes to plan, he will then serve his hometown — and his country.

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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