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John L. Braese
VALE – From the playgrounds of their youth to Hawley Field, Vale seniors Tanner Steele and John Wolfe have been together. The hookup of a Steele pass to a Wolfe reception have placed many points on the scoreboards across Oregon. Facing graduation, the duo decided to continue their close relationship, both signing Letters of Intent to play football as Yotes at the College of Idaho.
As close as Wolfe and Steele are, separate signings were out of the question. Choosing the same way they came into Vale High School as freshman, the duo, together with family, friends and coaches, gathered Thursday, Feb. 3 to make their futures official. The two Vikings will be two Yotes.
Steele will need to be without his longtime friend for a while. Wolfe, a member of the Jesus Christ Church of Latter-day Saints, has made the personal choice to serve a two-year mission, returning to once again join Steele on the field in Caldwell, Id. in the fall of 2024.
Steele admitted the decision to attend the Idaho school came as a shock even to him.
“C of I was really not even in consideration for me,” Steele said. “That all changed once John and I visited the school and the team. The coaches really changed my mind. The tradition they have, the team spirit, everything about the visit made a real impact. They have the highest attendance in their conference for fans. That is impressive.”
Wolfe, as typical, echoed Steele’s sentiments.
“I toured Eastern Oregon University and was impressed,” said Wolfe. “But once we toured the College of Idaho, it was just amazing. The whole feel of the team, all the way down to the equipment manager, was out of this world. Their football team are three-time league champions since bringing back football.”
Both Steele and Wolfe plan on pursuing business degrees while on campus.
After his return from his mission, Wolfe is looking on the defensive side of the ball as a defensive back. For Steele, the choice of position for the Yotes is easy.
“I will play whatever position will put me on the field the quickest,” he said.
After four years on the Viking team, both even had similar memories.
“Winning the Wagon Wheel all four years is the best memory,” both agreed.
“I also remember the Rainier game,” said Wolfe. “I remember everything about that game, the bus ride, the plays in the game, everything.”
“It was always great knowing we were playing when other teams were sitting at home during the playoffs,” Steele said. “This team created memories I will never forget.”
The list of those who have supported the two also came out the same.
“The team, coaches, family, friends, parents and the whole community of Vale,” both said.
The offer for the two to play football at the next level at the College of Idaho was based not only on the duo’s athletic achievements, but also on the academic excellence of both. Wolfe will graduate with a 3.65 GPA while Steele will depart sporting a 4.0 GPA.
“C of I would not even look at either of us without the grades,” said Steele.
“If I could pass on something to younger players, it would be to set goals both on the field and in the classroom,” added Wolfe. “Both pay off down the line.”
Wolfe’s and Steele’s achievements in both sports and the classroom are the players Vale head coach Jeff Aldred is looking for in future Viking players.
“They have been great leaders to us,” said Aldred. “Their work ethic, both in the classroom and on the field, is a testament to what the younger kids in Vale should be striving for their entire career in high school. Both will do great things in life.”
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