They say football is a game that can help instill core values into young people that they can take with them for the rest of their lives. Qualities such as mental toughness, pride and teamwork all can be forged on the football field from a very young age.
For Western senior defensive lineman Markel Fluker, however, football is not the only field on which he plans to do battle.
After a stellar high school career that saw him garner both All-Conference honors on the football field and All-State in wrestling, Fluker came to Western in 2014. After redshirting his first year, Fluker has steadily seen his productivity increase in each of his seasons as a Griffon, as well as an increased role on the team each of those seasons.
Fluker, a product of Winnetonka High School, is planning on enlisting in the military after his career at Western is done and serving his country. For Fluker, the game of football has taught him many life lessons that he plans to bring with him as he serves in the military.
“The thing that is most appealing to me about the military is the brotherhood that is formed, as well as the discipline that the military requires of you,” Fluker said. “One of the similarities that I have noticed between football and the military is that you are counting on the person next to you to do their job and do it to the best of their ability in order to accomplish the mission or football game.”
Fluker has been a staple on Western’s defense throughout his time here and is one of the unquestioned leaders of a unit that currently ranks atop the conference in takeaways with eight through five games this season.
As one of those strong leaders on the field, Fluker has learned many qualities of leadership through football that he plans on taking with him into his service into the military.
“One of the lessons that I plan on taking into the service that I have learned from football is that if you work hard and become a selfless player or soldier and treat others with respect, people will follow you and put their bodies on the line for you because they know that you will do the same for them without a doubt,” Fluker said.
Fluker is very grateful for the opportunity to both play the game that he loves at the collegiate level, as well as serve the country he loves once his playing days are over. It is an amazingly brave decision, and one that he hopes can inspire younger people to follow a similar path in the future.
“I would tell a person who plans to follow in my footsteps to stay focused and continue to pursue your dreams, and they will soon become a reality,” Fluker said.
Fluker and the Griffons will take on Central Oklahoma as the Bronchos come to pick city this Saturday, Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.