When Levi Korthuis sustained a broken ankle in his first varsity game last football season, he didn’t have to look far for rehabilitation expertise and emotional support.
“My dad (Steven Korthuis) is a physical therapist,” said Korthuis, now among the standouts who have helped Lynden Christian to a 5-1 overall, 2-1 start in the Northwest Conference Class 1A.
Lyncs coach Dan Kaemingk had no doubt that Korthuis, the team’s leading rusher and a solid inside linebacker, would work as hard as he could to accomplish a successful rehab.
“Levi is always a 100 percenter. I don‘t have to push him at all,” said Kaemingk, who said he admires both the work ethic and the hard-running rushing and tackling style of Korthuis.
It didn’t take long for Korthuis, who had been scheduled to play a major role as a sophomore, to thrill to a special reward this season for his rehab work. He scored from the 1-yard line — he’s among the league’s best short-yardage specialists — to put the Lyncs ahead at 21-20 on the way to a 28-20 win Sept. 21 over NWC 1A rival Mount Baker, which is bidding for its seventh consecutive state tournament spot.
On Friday, the teams meet again for at least a share of the conference lead at Lynden Christian. The Sept. 21 game was LC’s most significant win in a long time.
“That (the go-ahead touchdown) was my highlight. That was definitely the most exciting play I‘ve been involved in to that point,” said Korthuis, who likely would be among the conference leaders in gains for first downs if such a statistic were compiled.
He says Kaemingk is a major reason.
“Coach K was real positive in helping me,” he said. “He would say, ‘Keep working, Levi, and it will really pay off.’ ”
Korthuis also expresses both gratitude for the support of LC’s few seniors and admiration for his numerous talented fellow juniors.
“I’m excited about the talent we have in our junior and senior classes,” he said, noting how well so many of his classmates — who include quarterback Trajan Schouten, wide receivers Jackson Corkill and Tanner Feenstra, running back Easton Stremler, defensive back Jude Veltkamp and a number of other defenders and linemen — have performed.
Indeed, Korthuis has good reason to feel LC’s future is encouraging. All told, most of LC’s 17 juniors have made significant contributions so far. There are only six seniors on the roster, all of them key leaders and performers for the much-improved Lyncs, who went 3-6 last season.
That record stung for Korthuis, especially since he wasn’t in position to help on the field.
Korthuis’s memory of the pain of a broken ankle is clear.
“I was playing defense in the third quarter against Bellingham, and I was hurt in a pileup,” he said. “It was a clean break. I felt it snap.”
What was the hardest part for him?
“The toughest part was knowing that everything you worked so hard for was gone,” Korthuis said. “But I felt I was blessed to have two seasons left.”
Thus motivated, he used light weight lifting later in his rehab, which went well enough to begin running by December.
“I would stress the ankle enough to where it (the lifting) helped strengthen it,” he said.
He acknowledged his rehab was a bonding experience with his father.
“We were already pretty close. Dad was very encouraging. It helped with my self-confidence and to make my rehab easier,” he said.
Work ethic comes naturally for Korthuis, who grew up on his family’s berry farm. He recalled he began to learn how to work with a berry picking machine when he was about 11 years old.
“Levi is pretty special about doing the extra stuff,” Kaemingk said. “If something isn’t right, Levi will just repeat it. If all the kids put that much effort into the weight room … Levi doesn’t back down. He prides himself on doing a good job and finishing things. He takes the time to be the hammer, not the nail.”
Week 7 schedule
▪ Mount Baker at Lynden Christian, 7 p.m.
▪ Nooksack Valley at Meridian, 7 p.m.
▪ Cedarcrest at Blaine, 7 p.m.
▪ Lynden at Sedro-Woolley, 7 p.m.
▪ Marysville-Pilchuck at Ferndale, 7 p.m.
▪ Stanwood at Squalicum (at Civic Stadium), 7 p.m.
▪ Neah Bay at Lummi, 7 p.m.
▪ Bellingham at Mountlake Terrace (at Edmonds Stadium), 8 p.m.
▪ Anacortes at Sehome (at Civic Stadium), 7 p.m.