Libby High School graduate Matt Wickstrom never thought an affinity for bread would eventually lead him to college and a soccer scholarship - but it did.
“I’ve always bought the Poulsbo bread in Rosauers — the kind with the viking on front,” he said. “On the back, it describes the small scandanavian town the bread is made in, so I Iooked it up on the Internet.”
When Wickstrom found the town online, his first thought was it would be a cool place to live — by the water and north of Seattle.
Although Wickstrom had looked into colleges, most seemed out of reach financially, so he was planning on taking a year to live in a different town to save money and write - his passion.
“Then I found it on the bread,” he said. “So I also checked out colleges nearby and found Olympic College in Bremerton, WA.”
Wickstrom decided to apply, contacting their soccer coach, and was eventually offered a full-ride scholarship.
A state all-conference soccer midfielder last year, Wickstrom will begin his college soccer career next month in a tournament in Snoqualmie, WA, July 18th-20th.
“It’s a big tournament,” he said. “Last year, half of the Huskies played in it and Pacific Lutheran University played in it.”
Wickstrom began playing soccer when he was five, but took a break his freshmen and sophomore year to play football.
“The group of kids I grew up playing soccer with are the ones that started the soccer craze at Libby High School. There were teams before, but we were the first to compete with Flathead.”
Besides helping LHS soccer to second place last year, Wickstrom also reported for the school newspaper.
He decided that poetry was more his style - as opposed to journalism; he eventually hopes to attend the Iowa Writers Workshop.
“My longterm goal is to get a masters degree in poetry,” he said. “Find a cool place to write, live and save up money for (more) college.”
Wickstrom noted both LHS teachers, Mr. (Jeff) Gruber and Mr. (Wayne) Baker were strong examples in his life.
“I always told them, ‘when going through high school there were two teachers I would go to war for, Baker andGruber.’”
He described Gruber, a former NFL player, as a “vocal leader” involved with the museum, MT history and geography - as well as someone to bounce ideas off of.
Wickstrom admires Baker for his unique style of teaching.
“He’s different than ninety percent of the teachers I had,” he said. “He doesn’t see the classroom as a flat landscape. He isn’t afraid to go off the lesson plan or to help someone who’s having a bad day when the moment is right.”
Wickstrom has collaberated with Baker on more than one outside project, including working to bring the indie movie “Bella” to Libby.
Personality-wise, Wickstrom said he credits his father with teaching him level-headed thinking, even when things go wrong.
“My dad is definitely not artistic and poetic, so I got that from my mom’s rock-n-roll mentality,” he said.
His advice for incoming freshmen includes stepping outside the norm.
“Don’t let everything hinge on outlined work,” he said. “Go your own way and enjoy the little moments, even if it’s not convenient to do that.”
Born and raised in Libby,
Wickstrom enjoys visiting his relatives in Wisconsin along with his favorite team, the Green Bay Packers.
John Wayne is his hero, along with Libby resident, Rose Gowan, a published poet and LHS teacher who was “instrumental and in keeping me going and motivated.”
Wickstrom said he goes wherever nature and his faith take him.
“I had patience and everything fell into place,” he said, referring to his bread trail to college. “As far as my writing and life in general, god is my driving force - that’s why I have this trust that I have this divinely instilled talent that He’ll take me places.”
He noted he’s thankful he grew up in a small town and will take the Libby mindset with him wherever he goes.
“Sometimes I want to forget about Libby and go somewhere else. But I’m thankfull I grew up here - it gave me more of an adventurous mindset and made me want to explore more.”