On Oct. 25, 2020, Steele McLaren’s life changed forever when he was tragically injured in an accident. A senior at Atlantic High School, and brother to Chase (a 2019 graduate and 200-win wrestler) and Garrett (a junior and quarterback of this year’s Trojan team), Steele was out hunting with friends.

Since then, he has been recovering at an Omaha hospital, with a special Facebook group – Praying For Steele – set up to update friends and well-wishers on his progress. He has improved markedly since being brought to the hospital but recovery will take a long time.

He remains an inspiration to his many friends and family members.

The News-Telegraph invited his fellow seniors to talk about Steele and what he meant to the team. Those who responded have their comments included below:

Zach Colton:

  • “Steele has always been nice to me and is one of my good friends. He means a lot to the program because he was always that one kid to have his name called whenever we talk about helpful kids. The success I had over the years in football is due to having amazing friends just like Steele.”

Beau Dickerson:

  • “Steele and I had a Personal called Steele-dick and it was where we were both tight ends. I remember one game they threw the ball to Steele and it bounced right off his helmet. So naturally, I gave Steele a hard time about that. But little did I know the very next game I got a pass thrown to me and it bounced off my helmet, and Steele gave me a really hard time. Probably the most memorable part about football was that.”

Cuyler Flood-Wachsmuth:

  • “Steele to me was like a brother, he gave me advice about football when I needed it. He always pushed the whole team to better themselves. As a team I am so glad we made it to the playoffs this year.”

Nellie Grooms:

  • “Steele is the type of player that everyone wants on their team. He’s hardworking, hilarious, athletic, and a great person overall. He is never frowning or quiet, let me tell ya. Steele means a lot to the football program and has helped the football team get better day by day throughout these four years.”

Tessa Grooms:

  • “Steele is one of the funniest and most caring guys I have ever met. When he walks into a room no doubt will he say something or do something to make you laugh. He may not be the tallest guy on the football field but he surely has the biggest heart and is willing to work as hard as he can to get any job done.”

Bodie Johnson:

  • “Steele was the heart of our team, he made practice enjoyable for everyone. Steele was a very hard worker on the football field, one of the big reasons we had a lot of success on defense this year.”

Gunner Kirchhoff:

  • “Steele has been my best friend since I knew what a best friend was. We’ve made some awesome memories together and I cannot wait too see what the future holds for us. Steele is a character too say the least. He never fails to put a smile on ur face when he sees you. This season meant the world to all of us seniors because we new this was our last and best shot too do something. We have dreamed of playing like we did this year since elementary school when all the football players would run into the Trojan bowl and we would line up to give them high fives.”

Korey Parrott:

  • “Steele is a great person and has a amazing heart. He means alot to me because he cares about everybody.”

Grant Sturm:

  • “Steele means a lot to me because he is such a great person and everyone loves him. He almost always has a smile on his face and he is lots of fun to be around no matter where you are. In football he helped us win games on the defensive side of the ball and was a good player to have on the team.”

Joe Weaver: “It’s hard to even say how much Steele means to not only our senior class but the whole team and you don’t realize how much someone really means until they’re missing. Steele is one of nicest, funniest, and most outgoing guys I know and he really means a lot to me.”

To reach Brian Rathjen, send correspondence to sports@ant-news.com or phone (712) 243-2624.

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