Hole in One: Battle Creek’s first PGA Jr. League team finishes season undefeated

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Young Tulalip tribal member, Brodie Kane, retrieved a few tees and his left-handed driver from his mini, red Ping golf bag and headed toward the driving range of the Battle Creek Golf Course. With extreme focus, he lined up his shot, adjusted his cap to block the sun from his eyes, and took a couple practice swings before driving the ball nearly one hundred yards. Brodie, who is eight, is part of Battle Creek’s first-ever PGA Jr. League golf team. 

The team recently completed their first season undefeated, competing against six other teams within their league including teams from the Snohomish and Echo Falls golf courses. Brodie is one of six Tulalip tribal members on the team of twelve, along with his younger brother Braiden, Nolan and Emily Hegnes and also Hudson and Sammy Reyes. 

“This is fun, I wish they had this when I was growing up,” expresses Hudson and Sammy’s grandfather, Ray Sheldon Jr. “I think we should try to find more ways to get young tribal members involved because this is an active game they can play for the rest of their lives, instead of sitting at home and watching TV or playing video games. I hope next year even more young tribal members will come out and play and get out and enjoy the sun.”

Ray attends all of his grandsons’ matches, following closely in a golf cart, offering both advice and support to them along the course. 

“Hudson can drive the ball over two hundred yards and can hit a six-iron one hundred and sixty yards,” he proudly beams. “It’s a great program, I’m so happy I get to play a sport with them.”

The PGA Jr. League is offered at many golf courses nationwide to all children under the age of thirteen. The league was originally founded in 2011 and enlists professional PGA golfers as their coaches, teaching the youngsters about sportsmanship and how to conduct themselves while on the course. The Jr. League also hosts a number of competitions and camps throughout the summer, including the very popular Drive, Chip and Putt Competitions.

“It’s been so amazing; Brodie can’t wait to keep playing. He’s ecstatic that he got to golf three times this week,” says Brodie and Braiden’s mother, Dinesha Kane. “He’s grown so much since the beginning of the season; he’s more confident. I think more of our Native children should get involved because it helps our kids learn etiquette, patience and it gives them so much confidence and that transfers over to life.”

Battle Creek coaches, Alex Stacey and Bob Styles, reflected on a successful season, crediting a great turnout and a fun environment. The Battle Creek PGA Jr. golfers are now headed to the postseason championship rounds after finishing their season with a perfect record. Although the season has come to an end, Coach Alex encourages local kids to join-in on the fun during Battle Creek’s upcoming summer camp hosted August 7-9. 

Brodie also encourages his fellow Tulalip youth to join him on the course next season, offering to play with any youngins interested in hitting the links.

“I learned a lot more moves about hitting and teeing up,” he exclaimed. “I like to use my putter because you line up the hole on the putter with the ball and it’s easier to hit it in. I think other kids should play because they might want to learn as well, because they might’ve seen people on TV playing golf. I think they should ask their moms and dads or uncles or grandmas if they can play because golf is really fun!” 

For more information, including how to sign-up your little golfers for summer camp or next year’s team, please visit the Battle Creek Golf Course Pro Shop or call (360) 659-7931.

Martin Napeahi Jr. to begin college football career

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News; Football photos courtesy of Geoff Vleck, USA Football

“When football season ended, I didn’t think I was going to play anywhere because no colleges were really talking to me,” recalls Tulalip tribal member Martin Napeahi Jr. “It was tough, some of my teammates were getting scholarships and I was working just as hard as them, if not harder. But I stayed focused and kept working. And then Central [Washington University] called and gave me an offer. I went and visited and it’s a really nice campus. They have a good community especially within their football program, everyone’s very welcoming.”

Martin set a goal at a young age. A goal that he would work tirelessly toward throughout his entire high school career. Six years ago, while he was in the seventh grade, Martin attended an Archbishop Murphy High School football game. Although Archbishop lost that game by a major deficit, Martin left that game knowing he wanted to attend their high school and be a part of their football program. The decision to attend the private Catholic college-prep school was based around attaining his goal of playing college football.

“The football program at Archbishop is ran similar to a college program, it’s very intense,” says Martin Napeahi Sr., Archbishop Murphy Football Coach and Martin Jr.’s father. “The amount of work these guys put in is tremendous. It’s practically football seven days a week from August to December.”

“I became interested in Archbishop Murphy when I was in middle school, I had some family there,” says Martin Jr. “My freshman year we made it to the first round of playoffs and got smoked. We placed third at state my sophomore year, junior year we won state and my senior year we placed third again.”

Martin’s first season initially sparked the fire that fueled his work ethic. After failing to secure a starting position as a freshman, he was determined to work even harder during the offseason to ensure his spot as starting center during the next season. Ever since, he’s applied that same energy and received a variety of accolades, proving that hard work does indeed pay off. 

“It wasn’t easy, especially my junior year,” he states. “Looking back at all of that now, it’s kind of funny because I know that myself and the other kids who weren’t from the Mill Creek-Everett area – none of us were recruited.”

During the 2016-2017 high school football season, the Archbishop Murphy Wildcats made national headlines and were even mentioned on ESPN. The news, however, was unfortunate to Martin and his teammates who trained hard all season only to see a number of opponents forfeit their games against them. The concern was for safety reasons as other teams noted that Archbishop’s players had a size advantage over their players. This sparked a bit of controversy as several private schools were accused of recruiting students for sports rather than academics. 

“Even with all the forfeits and the people saying we were recruited, I loved it. It was fun,” Martin expresses. “The schooling was great, it got me to where I am. If I went to any other school, I don’t know what kind of opportunities I would’ve been presented football-wise and school-wise. Football’s been a blessing because it got me to college. That was always my goal, to play college football.”

On National Signing Day 2018, Martin Jr. officially accomplished his goal. He signed on to play with the Central Washington University football program. From an Archbishop Wildcat to a CWU Wildcat, Martin is ready and eager to begin his new journey.

“It’s two hours away from home, so not too far, yet not too close either. It’s going to be nice being on my own, trying to figure the world out by myself. After college, if I were to go to the NFL or CFL, that would obviously be awesome but I’m going to major in exercise science and minor in nutrition so I can stay in the athletic field to become an athletic trainer or sports nutritionist.”

After committing to CWU, Martin finished his high school career by competing in track and field, throwing both the discuss and shotput. He is currently the record holder for both events at Archbishop Murphy and placed fourth this year at state. 

“I think he wanted to do better at state, he was a little upset,” says Martin’s grandmother Annette Napeahi. “But that is still a great accomplishment. We’re just so proud of him for working hard to achieve his goals. He’s going to college for football, that’s not easy. People aren’t just handed sports scholarships, you have to work for it and he definitely worked hard for his. It’s been so awesome to watch him and I can’t wait to see what’s next.”

On the evening of Friday June 8, Martin received his high school diploma.  

“Graduation was cool,” he says. “I was wearing a cedar cap and everyone thought it was cool. And because of my Hawaiian side, I had a ton of leis that covered up my entire face. My auntie Betty was in the process of making one of the leis for me and she passed away. Her daughter finished it for me and I was able to wear it on graduation day, it was really special. It was cool to see everyone’s reaction to my culture because that’s important to me. Not everyone has the same culture that I’ve been blessed with, so I’m glad I got to share a part of who I am.” 

“I feel an overwhelming sense of pride,” says Martin Sr. “Especially knowing what we’ve been through. From his early life, he was five and a half weeks premature and the doctors didn’t know if he was going to develop properly. And here we are today. He does great in school and is a pretty low-key kid, doesn’t go out and do a bunch of crazy stuff. Its bittersweet, coaching him all these years and being on the sideline as his number one fan. As a coach, I’m super proud. As his dad, all you can ask for is that your kids are successful and do more or better than you when you were at that age. I think we did a pretty good job.”

Before beginning his first year at Central, Martin’s summertime plans include hanging out with family and friends as well as playing Fortnite. But most importantly, Jr. plans to keep up with his early morning weight room regimen, training for the game he loves. Martin also offered solid advice to the younger students of the community who wish to follow a similar path to his.

“You just have to keep working at it. It’s going to be hard and discouraging at times, especially with football, the practices and coaches constantly in your face, but keep at it. Have a goal in mind and set out to achieve it, work your tail off and keep building on that goal. And when people try to shoot you down, block them out and keep working toward your goal.”

‘Go Hard or Go Home’ league wraps up spring season

Tulalip basketball league – Spring season Champs.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Established in February 2015, the Go Hard or Go Home community basketball league is organized by Youth Services staff and has gained more notoriety with each passing season. Local ballers can be found competing on the hardwood every Monday and Wednesday evenings at the Tulalip Youth Center.

The league is a prime outlet for basketball players of every level. And most importantly, everyone is welcome to participate. There are former high school stand-outs, a couple college players, but mostly people who just love the sport.

After paying a modest fee of $200, each team played a nine-game regular season and everyone had a spot in the postseason playoffs. Giving Tulalip ballers the best bang for their buck has been a priority of the community league. In fact, costs have been minimal and the amount of games plenty when compared to most basketball leagues. 

Spring season saw nearly ninety players make-up the ten teams vying for bragging rights and making the most out the opportunity to play competitive, localized basketball. Ages ranged from early teens to elder statesmen.

“This league is great for the community,” said Fred Brown Jr., long-time community friend and lead-referee of the past season. “Spring season ran for three-months, giving people in the community something to do either as players or spectators. Most interesting to me was the variety of basketball games. There were high-flyers, 3-point specialists, under the rim fundamentally sound guys, and then those playing to get into shape or to stay in shape. It was a good basketball season for everyone involved.” 


Opening Day for Tulalip Challenger baseball

Submitted by Amy Sheldon and Josh Fyrberg

So thankful for the first game of the season for Tulalip Challenger baseball! Thanks to all the wonderful volunteers and families who came together today to play. Thanks to my dad Ray Sheldon and Josh for your support and to the wonderful kids who helped. A big shout out to Tarynn and Josh’s girls and Sam Gooch, you all are a big help

My family and I were so excited when Josh and my dad were able to bring Challenger little league to Tulalip. Challenger is a great family fun sport where the kids can be just like everyone else and run and have fun. Raising a daughter with special needs, there was never really any activities for her to participate in. I did get her to do Special Olympics bowling for a season, but our Special Olympics teams in Marysville gets very crowded. I love the idea of Tulalip Little League being the first league around Marysville/Tulalip to offer this to families. I’m very honored to be able to work with amazing people who have helped make this possible. I truly believe all our kids deserve the best and deserve all the same opportunities as their peers.

– Amy Sheldon, TLL Board of Director


 Being able to witness and help establish the Tulalip Little League Challenger team has been an honor. It was great seeing all of the youth, parents and volunteers supporting this division along with all of the TLL divisions. 

One of our goals is to make sure that all youth have the opportunity to participate and create great memories along with creating new friendships for all involved. This season for TLL has been a lot of work and it’s all worth it to see these athletes on the fields smiling and bringing baseball and softball back into our Tulalip Tribes community. 

Current divisions: 

  • 4 Tball teams
  • 1 Majors boys team
  • 1 AAA boys team
  • 1 AAA girls team
  • 1 Rookies boys team
  • 1 Rookies girls team
  • 1 Challenger team 

We would like to thank all of the Tulalip Little League board members: Malory Simpson, Teri Nelson, Ray Sheldon, Shawn Sanchey, Yogi Sanchey, Danielle Fryberg, Amy and Ryan Sheldon, Deanna Sheldon and myself. We would also like to thank Marlin Fryberg Jr. for starting TLL last year and District 1 BOD Little League for giving us the opportunity to participate. 

This year we have over 120 athletes and a lot of great volunteers for coaching our amazing athletes here in Tulalip Tribes. All of us are looking forward to seeing your support at the games, especially the youth. It is going to be a great season and especially one to remember. See you at the fields. 

If anyone would like to donate please make a check out to Tulalip Little League looking forward to the support from TPD also grateful for the sponsorships that we have received let’s continue to help our athletes grow and achieve their goals on and off the fields. Let’s continue to grow as Tulalip Tribes to become stronger create more unity and teamwork. Together we are stronger. Let’s make our future generations proud and successful.

– Josh Fryberg, President Tulalip Little League

For more information about Tulalip Little League and the newly created Challenger Division, please visit TulalipLL.org

Tulalip Little League begins second season

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

The bases were loaded as young Tulalip tribal member, Jordan Bontempo, stepped up to the plate. “Alright guys, last hitter,” was heard from the pitching mound. As Jordan quickly fell behind in the count, he remained patient looking for a pitch in the middle of the strike zone and once he got it, he hammered it. A gapper in between left and center field resulted in an inside-the-park grand slam. As Jordan rounded third base he loudly exclaimed, “I love baseball” before sliding home.

Although this occurred at the end of practice and each hitter received a total of eight pitches before using the tee, ensuring everybody got on base, it doesn’t take away from the excitement the kids share for the second season of Tulalip Little League Baseball.  Last year, through the strong efforts of Tulalip tribal member, Marlin Fryberg Jr., Tulalip became the first Tribal Little League Division in the state of Washington. The process of establishing a little league is a very demanding task, so Marlin sought assistance from Tulalip tribal members Josh Fryberg and Shawn Sanchey; as well as a strong team of volunteers who serve as Tulalip Little League coaches and board members. Marlin, who was recently elected to the Tulalip Board of Directors, stepped down from his position as Tulalip Little League President this year, allowing Josh to serve as President and Shawn as Vice-President. 

“The kids are loving it,” says Shawn. “Baseball is kind of new out here. At first, there were some kids that were shy, didn’t want to play and wanted to go home. But when they caught their first ball, their eyes lit up like, this is amazing. So, it’s going pretty awesome so far. Last year we had three teams and this year we have eleven. More and more kids are coming out, so it’s improving.”

The little league consists of four divisions, based on age and experience, and include both boys and girls teams for Tee Ball – ages four to six, Rookies – ages seven to eight, Triple A -ages nine to eleven and Majors – ages ten to twelve. This year, the Tulalip Little League has announced they will also have a Challenger Division for the children of the community with special needs. Shawn expressed his excitement for the new division, noting that once Marysville Little League heard the news, they were inspired to begin a Challenger Division as well. 

This year, the young sluggers will be sporting red jerseys that feature the very popular and stylish ‘T’ logo that debuted last season. The season will consist of inter-league matchups as well as games against neighboring little league divisions, totaling approximately twenty games for each team. Sponsors for the 2018 Tulalip Little League include a few local tribal member-owned businesses as well as Rushmore Tax Service and Screen Printing Northwest. To add to the excitement, one lucky player of Tulalip Little League, picked at random, will get to throw the first pitch of a Mariners game this summer. 

“Tulalip Little League provides a lot of opportunities for the kids,” says Shawn. “I think having the Tulalip Little League is important because it opens up a new world for our youth. We were mainly about basketball, we’ve been getting really big into football too and now we’re adding baseball. It’s adding a whole new lifestyle that a lot of kids don’t know about. Way back in our history a lot of our people played baseball, so it’s getting back to our roots and that relationship with the game. It shows our youth how to be part of a team, it allows them to build relationships with the community and in many ways teaches them respect and that is very valuable to our kids.”

For more information please visit the Tulalip Little League website at www.TulalipLL.org

Memorable season comes to a close for Tulalip Hawks

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The (21-6) Tulalip Heritage Hawks basketball team earned their spot in the State Tournament after a strong postseason showing, culminating with a convincing 66-57 win over Pope John Paul II in the Regional round. The victory propelled Tulalip to Top 12 status among all division 1B schools in Washington and gave them the #11 seed at State.

Spokane Arena was home to the deciding tournament, where the winner would be crowned Washington State 1B Champions. For the Tulalip Hawks, their path to glory began with an all too familiar foe, the Lions from Cedar Park Christian. During the regular season and subsequent postseason games, the Hawks and Cedar Park had played each other four times, with the Hawks losing each of those games by an average margin of 21 points.

And so the Tulalip boys and their coaching staff took to the Spokane Arena court on February 28th looking to upset the #3 ranked Cedar Park in the 1st round of State.

Heritage started the game playing a zone defense in the hopes of keeping Cedar Park from the rim and attacking the hoop. Cedar Park countered that defense by shooting red hot from outside, to the tune of making five 3-pointers in the opening minutes. Midway through the 1st quarter the Hawks trailed 3-18.

When the Hawks went to a man-to-man defense to close out on shooters and not give up uncontested jumpers, Cedar Park countered by playing through their bigs in the post. After only scoring 6 points in the 1st quarter, Tulalip’s offense got going in the 2nd, led by senior guard Josh Iukes. The boys scored 20 points in the 2nd, but were unable to slow down Cedar Park on the defensive end. At halftime the Hawks trailed 26-49.

After trailing by as much as 30 points, 28-58, the Hawks would rally in the 4th quarter, but it wouldn’t be enough as they lost 72-88. There’s no shame in getting beat to a team that’s simply bigger and better. The Hawks kept their heads held high and kept firing away even after going down big. Sophomore guard Josh Miranda showcased the fighting spirit well as he entered the game late in the 1st half and from the point on made six 3-pointers, including a half-court buzzer beater, to lead his team with 18 points. Paul Shay, Jr. scored 17 points, and Samuel Fryberg added 13 points.

Tulalip finished the season with a (21-7) record, the 21 Ws being the most since the 2013-2014 season, a well-earned showing at State, and made many exciting memories during the season for their graduating senior players.

Adiya Jones shines during Tulalip Night at Skagit Valley College


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Nearly 60 tribal members, varying from children to elders, attended the collegiate women’s basketball game between Skagit Valley and Peninsula held in Mt. Vernon on Wednesday, February 21. Dubbed “Tulalip Night”, the game doubled as an evening to showcase the talents of second-year college standout and Tulalip tribal member, Adiya Jones.

A week before, the Skagit Valley women’s basketball team took part in Heritage High School’s morning assembly. There they talked with local students about their college experience and offered words of advice to anyone looking to achieve at the next level, whether it be community college or a university. Being a graduate of Heritage, Adiya’s success both in the classroom and on the basketball court as a college student make her a positive figure in the community.

“Adiya has grown so much in the classroom and on the court. She is a tremendous young lady and a great basketball player,” beamed Steve Epperson, Skagit’s Athletic Director and Women’s Basketball Coach. “She’s working towards achieving a degree in Human Services so she can go back and help the tribal youth.”

Adiya shared her heartfelt message to the tribal youth by saying, “My message to all Native American youth is to never give up because there will come a time when you feel like you
don’t belong. Thankfully, I have always been pushed by my family, Coach, and teachers because they want me to be successful. It can only help to have the right support system around you. If you persevere through high school and prepare yourself for the next level, then you will succeed no matter what.”

Image Enick performs welcome song.

Getting back to Skagit’s Tulalip Night, the evening kicked off with young Image Enick performing a welcome song to the delight of all those in attendance. Then Tulalip elder, Dale Jones, honored coach Steve Epperson with a Native designed jacket for all his good work towards supporting Adiya on and off the basketball court.

“I was very surprised and am truly honored by the presentation Dale gave to me,” Coach Epperson said later. “The jacket is now hanging in my office as a one of my precious momentous from the past 41-years of coaching. It’s very special.”

As the crowd settled in to the game, they were treated to free food, beverages and snacks to enjoy while being entertained by a competitive basketball game.

In her second year playing for Skagit Valley College, Adiya has stepped up and taken the reigns as the team’s unquestioned leader. She is the primary playmaker on offense while also anchoring the team’s defense. Her full skill set was on display in this game. A high scoring affair, Adiya led her team with 20 points, each bucket receiving a cheer from her Tulalip fans. She also came up big on defense with several highlight blocks and a couple timely steals.

Following the game Adiya reflected on what the night meant for her, “It felt really good to look out into the crowd and see so many fans from home! That is what I love about my community, they have always supported me in one way or another.”

Heritage Hawks come up clutch with 66-57 win at Regionals

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

In the biggest game of the season, with a trip to State on the line, the Heritage Hawks overcame an early deficit, managed their foul trouble, and rode the flaming hot-hand of Jr. Shay for an emphatic victory.

The game was played on a neutral site, Jackson High School in Mill Creek, on Saturday, February 24 between the Tulalip Heritage Hawks and the Eagles from Pope John Paul II. These two team previously played two weeks prior, with the Hawks earning a hard fought 50-44 W.

During the 1st quarter, the Hawks came out lethargic and found themselves in an early 2-8 hole. After making a couple substitutions to shore up the defense, Tulalip got engaged on both ends of the floor and tied the game at 10-10.

Trailing 15-18 entering the 2nd quarter, Hawks senior guard Jr. Shay started to make his imprint on the game in a big way. Jr. bailed out back-to-back possessions late in the shot clock by knocking down 3-pointers. The outside shooting was contagious as Josh Iukes and Alonzo Jones both got buckets from perimeter shooting as well. At halftime Tulalip led 31-28.

In the 3rd quarter, with the score tied at 36-36, center Rodney Barber picked up his 4th foul, sending him to the bench. As a team, Heritage collected its 7th team foul with 1:15 remaining, meaning their opponent would be in a bonus free-throw situation for the remainder of the 3rd and entire 4th quarters. For their part, the Hawks navigated their foul trouble admirably by playing straight-up defense and contesting jump shots without fouling.

The game turned when Jr. Shay knocked down his fourth 3-pointer of the game, followed by Josh Iukes and Isaac Comenote both connecting on 3-pointers of their own. The offensive spurt put Tulalip ahead 49-39.

Down the stretch of the 4th quarter, Jr. Shay hit two more 3-pointers, giving him a season-high six 3-pointers made in the game. The Eagles from Pope John Paul II intentionally fouled to slow the game down, but the Hawks were hitting their free-throws to keep their lead in the double digits. When the final buzzer sounded, Heritage came away with the 66-57 win.

Jr. Shay led all scorers with 27 points, Alonzo had 13 points and team high 8 rebounds, and Josh Iukes added 12 points and 3 steals.

“My team was drive-and-kicking me the ball a lot because I was getting open, and I executed with six 3-pointers,” Jr. Shay stated with lots of energy following the W. “Me and Isaac were knocking down threes right off the bat and the team did a good job of riding the hot hand. If it wasn’t for the hustle of the guys down low, Rodney, Sammy, and Nashone getting into position and then kicking the ball back out to the guards, we wouldn’t have the outside shooting setup like we did.

“Honestly, as a senior today knowing this could be my final high school game, I had to take over at times because I wasn’t ready to go home. Now, we’re moving on to the Dome, to the State Tournament in Spokane. We’re going to try to make something special happen now.”