Clear eyes with a full heart

Photo by: Megan Moureaux
Photo by: Megan Moureaux

 

 

From a family full of athletes, this football player decided it was time to make a change in his life to better himself, but his health isn’t the only priority in his life.

Luke Coyle, 20, is a freshman linebacker who transferred from College of the Canyons last spring to play football at Pierce College. Just over a year ago, he weighed around 330 lbs.

“I was at COC and I was playing offensive line and I tore my MCL,” Coyle said. “I was on the couch eating food and I had my crutches and I literally said out loud, ‘Man I’m tired of being fat.’ I went on a diet the next day and that was 12 months ago.”

He has since lost around 120 lbs. Coyle admits that he’s always been outgoing and funny and he feels more confident now than ever.

“Luke’s one of those people that will go out of his way to do something for somebody,” said long snapper Blake Word. “Or go out of his way to put a smile on your face, make a joke or something.”

Coyle’s friends and family have been there to support him through it all. Two of his close friends are his Brahma teammates Word and tight end Trey Dunkelberger.

“I got to meet his dad, he was a nice guy, funny and was cracking jokes,” Dunkelberger said. “We talked about football and he didn’t bring up his situation.”

The Coyle’s are an active family. Luke’s brother plays professional baseball and his sister plays professional softball.

“We’re a very competitive family,” Coyle said. “My siblings are definitely very competitive about the whole weight loss thing and about me getting in shape.”

But about two years ago, Coyle’s father’s health took a turn for the worse. His father was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy when he was 33 years old and since has been in a constant uphill battle.

“His heart has gotten worse over the years,” Coyle said. “He did the whole pacemaker process and he’s had a lot of pacemakers. Then my senior year of high school he got really sick in two months.”

Throughout Coyle’s senior football season, he could tell his father’s health was worsening. Right after his football season ended, Coyle’s father didn’t feel good and called Luke to take him to the hospital.

“When we got him to the hospital they said, ‘thank goodness you got him here because his heart was failing,’ it was literally shutting down and he would’ve died,” Coyle said. “So from then on he was in the hospital for I think four to five months. They took his heart out and put a complete artificial heart in.”

Fast-forward two years and Coyle’s father is said to be one of the best artificial heart patients his doctor’s have ever had in the United States for this specific device.

His father stays active and loves the outdoors. He also comes to all of Coyle’s football games and Luke and his father have become a lot closer.

“With my parents, I could’ve done whatever I wanted,” Coyle said. “If I didn’t want to play sports they would’ve supported me, but I really loved football from the first time I hit someone I loved it.”

They’ve become closer since Coyle mostly takes his father to his doctor’s appointments even though it causes him to miss some football practices.

“When we were younger my dad wouldn’t really say, ‘I love you,’ but now he’s a lot more loving and realizes that he could die at any moment,” Coyle said. “He really let’s you know that he loves you.”

Coyle wants to transfer to a Division I college to play football after his sophomore season at Pierce. Coyle said his father doesn’t want his health to affect his decisions on colleges when it comes to transferring.

“He doesn’t want his illness to affect my decisions and that’s why he wants to get a heart so soon,” Coyle said. “He’s so motivated to get a heart. He’s just so motivated to live.”