Heartbeat of the Hornets: Lakota Worthington’s Story of Strength and Resiliency
PELLSTON – If you followed along with high school football in northern Michigan, you know that Pellston had a historic year, breaking records, posting a winning season for the first time since 1995 and making the playoffs for the first time in school history.
If you got a chance to watch them, you saw the passion and brotherhood that showed through their play. And a lot of that energy could be seen stemming from No. 24, Lakota Worthington.
Worthington is a senior at Pellston and one of the captains of the football team. He’s also a three-sport athlete, who plays roles on the basketball and track and field teams.
“The football field is his arena this year,” said Chris Schlappi, the offensive coordinator for the Hornets. He has also coached and taught Lakota since 8th grade. “I think that we rally around him for sure. I also think that just his calm demeanor, he’s just steady the whole time,” Schlappi added.
Sports, football especially, have always been a big part of Worthington’s life.
“It’s helped me a lot,” said Worthington. “It’s pretty much been an outlet for me, for a very, very long time. It helps me with everything.”
It’s helped him keep his head above water when his world came crashing down earlier this year.
Back in March, Worthington suffered a great loss with the death of his older brother. He was also dealing with his father being ill and having to be in and out of the hospital.
Still, Worthington pushed forward and continued on, until another tragedy struck. In May, Worthington’s father passed away. When that happened, he was left to live on his own.
“It is kind of hard coming home and not having that support that I’ve had with my dad, that’s a little difficult, very difficult,” said Worthington. “It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with for sure, but he told before it happened that if something like that ever happened, he wanted me to keep going and I told him I would before it happened and I made him promises and I wanted to make sure I fulfill those promises.”
He promised his dad that he would graduate high school, go to college, and continue to live life to the fullest.
He’s already taken steps toward those goals, sending out applications to universities, and even getting accepted by Lake Superior State University. Ever since his huge losses, he’s worked even harder to be better.
“He still comes to school, still passes his classes, still dedicated to his sports teams, still works a part time job, I think it shows a lot of resiliency on his part,” said Pellston athletic director Matt Sheick. “He is as you’ve seen our emotional heart beat on the football field, the basketball court and the track.”
He has taken an experience so devastating and used it to fulfill his goals and encourage his teammates.
“If you’d meet the kid, you’d have no idea what he’s been through. He’s always positive, he’s always upbeat,” said Pellston head basketball coach Larry Cassidy.
Through this tough time, the community of Pellston has come together to lift Worthington up, even having a community tailgate to raise money for him. He felt this support even more when he was crowned homecoming earlier this fall.
“The stands were full, my entire family was there, people that have been helping me out for a long time where there,” said Worthington.
He has lots of people who are there for him whether it’s his teammates who give him rides to school, teachers and coaches who look out for him, community members who cheer him on every Friday night, or other family members who do their best to make things a little easier for the 18-year-old. Worthington does have his aunt and cousins that live across the street and help watch over him.
Worthington is also a member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, where he also can go for support.
Lakota Worthington is proof that no matter how hard life gets, you can get through it and rise from it.
“Just make sure you don’t lose hope make sure you keep doing what you need to do, just know there’s always something out there for you, something to look forward to,” added Worthington.
Let’s all try to live a little more like Lakota.