AUGUSTA — It happened after every Oak Hill High School football game, without fail. Luke Washburn, a senior tight end/defensive end for the Raiders, would find his grandfather, Tutt Harvey, and they’d talk about the game.
“Some of the cold games, I’d go to the car, and he’d still come over,” Harvey said.
“He’s my ultimate role model. Ever since I was little, I wanted to be just like him. He represents respect and the word humble,” Washburn said. “He has the best character I think any man could ever achieve. I don’t go over to him to brag about what I did, but to ask him what he would do. To get some input on what he thinks of how I’m doing, of maybe living up to what he does.”
On Saturday afternoon, Harvey was at the Augusta Civic Center to see Washburn win the Frank J. Gaziano defensive lineman award. Harvey was one of many members of Washburn’s family there, and you could tell their size by the loud cheer they exhaled when Luke was announced as the winner.
For Washburn, this was a day to celebrate all of them, from blood relatives to football family. To Washburn, it was a day to celebrate every step of the journey.
“My family is the ultimate support system. Like I’ve said a bunch of times, I don’t think I’d be here if it wasn’t for them,” Washburn said. “Today shouldn’t be about me, it should be about them. They brought me up the way I am, and all of them had a piece in it.”
Winning the Gaziano Award capped a strong season for Washburn. In November, he helped Oak Hill beat Bucksport, 42-35, to win the Class D state championship, the program’s first gold ball in 31 years. Along the way, Washburn became a leader.
“I have a hard time being vocal. Coach (Stacen Doucette) always talks to me, â€˜C’mon, you’ve got to talk to the guys if you want to lead them.’ So I did what I could to lead by example. That was my number one goal. Show the younger guys what they do,” Washburn said.
Surrounded by so much family, Washburn thought of the person who wasn’t there. His mother, Dorothy Washburn, died seven years ago.
“I think about it a lot, on big occasions like this. I guess there’s a way I could find a way to be upset that she’s not here to share it with me, but I would rather focus on the point of view that she would be extremely proud of me,” Washburn said. “That’s just nice to know, that even though she’s not here in person, experiencing it with me, I know she sees it and she’d be really proud of me.”
Washburn and his father, Daniel, recently returned from a 10-day trip to Israel. Washburn’s father took Elijah, Luke’s older brother, on the same trip when he was a high school senior. Now it was Luke’s turn. Father and son toured the holy sites around the country, and Washburn came home a few days ago, it was with a greater appreciation of his fortunes.
“I found it very humbling, honestly. It makes you think about what you have. It’s unbelievable that I get to be here. Like this type of thing,” Washburn said, waving his arm at the banquet hall in which he was just named the state’s best high school football defensive lineman. “You don’t see any of this there. It’s just a blessing to be where I live.”
Washburn hopes to continue his football career in college. Among the schools he’s looking at are the University of Maine, Springfield College, and Husson University. No matter where Washburn ends up next year, he’ll be a good fit, and eventually, a team leader.
That’s the beautiful thing about surrounding yourself with positive role models. Before you know it, that’s exactly what you become.