Valders’ Goedeke reflects on rookie season, number retired by high school

Published: Feb. 19, 2023 at 10:10 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - No matter how far the game takes you, the journey starts in the same place: home.

For Luke Goedeke home is Valders.

“The nostalgia is real. Like, driving through this town, through Manitowoc. It means the world to me. This is where I started out. This is where I grew up. This is my roots, where I came from,” said Luke Goedeke.

It’s there you find the people that knew Goedeke long before the dream of being an NFL player became a reality. Those who saw first hand the growth from prep prospect to pro athlete.

“I mean, it’s a population of like 950 people. Playing in the NFL is probably slim to none. It gives an aspiration where like ‘hey, if I do work hard, even though I come from a small school, I’m still capable of going to the NFL. I’m still capable of meeting my dreams,” said childhood friend and former teammate Christopher Evenson.

“They shaped who I am today. So, really thankful and blessed at the end of the day. Thankful for the opportunity,” said Goedeke.

Going from a division three prep prospect, to UW-Stevens Point and eventually Central Michigan. Goedeke continued to work towards that ultimate goal. It was after the move to join the Chippewas when friend Christopher Evenson noticed the dream could someday be a reality for Goedeke.

“Luke always told me, ‘I’m going to work hard. I’m going to get to the NFL.’ That’s the overall dream. He told me that probably as soon as he moved to Central Michigan. He went into the coaches office and told the coaches, ‘how can I help this team out?’ They were like there’s five positions for offensive lineman, and there’s a lot more opportunity to go to the NFL. He kept talking to me about the NFL and I kind of knew, maybe this is something he’s actually going for it,” said Evenson.

In the spring of 2022, Goedeke heard his name called by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round of the NFL.

“Rookie year, getting thrown into the fire, blocking for Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time. It’s a surreal experience. I’ll never forget it,” said Goedeke.

Goedeke learned a lot from a childhood hero, Brady, especially when it comes to being a professional. Observing the process and preparation a seven-time Super Bowl champion puts in day in and day out.

“His preparation is second to none. I mean, never forget flying out to our away games, almost the whole flight, he’s watching film, preparing, writing in his notebook. Super accountable on himself. If he makes a mistake he owns up to it. He’s just the greatest. Some guys, you’d think they wouldn’t own up to their mistakes, but he does, and I think that’s what makes him truly one of the greatest,” said Goedeke.

Now Goedeke turns his attention to making a different kind of jump. Not to the NFL itself, but rather raising his game in year two as a pro.

“Kind of taking it all in. Letting it all truly hit, like, I’m an NFL player now. With that I’m not laxed in what my preparation is. I’m still training every day. Just trying to be the best athlete I can be. Trying to be the best version of myself on the football field,” said Goedeke.

The offseason also provides an opportunity for Goedeke to return home, to Valders to reconnect with those roots. On Friday, his Alma mater honored him with one of the highest honors any team can bestow upon a player by retiring his number.

“All the support this community has shown to me throughout the years is pretty incredible. To have my jersey retired just goes to show, even after I graduated and everything, they’re still supporting me,” said Goedeke.

“Luke means a lot, because even before he was drafted, he was coming around the school and talking to elementary school students. He was coming and showing his face. He wasn’t ever too big to do anything,” said Evenson.

“Never give up. Your hard work will pay off. Just keep grinding and have a why in life. You need to have a why, because when you hit adversity and times get hard, you need to have something to fall back on,” said Goedeke.