New Year’s resolution series: Austin Orr’s 100-pound weight loss journey

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

As the clock struck midnight and we entered 2024, millions of individuals around the world embraced the tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions. Among the countless goals people commit to, a considerable number revolve around health and wellness. Eating better, exercising more, and losing weight routinely top most common resolution lists. This reflects a global desire for improved well-being and a healthier lifestyle.

New Year’s resolutions act as a powerful launching point for those in need of an annual reminder to mentally check-in and increase awareness regarding desired self-improvement. The process begins with individuals reflecting on their current habits, acknowledging areas for improvement, and implementing changes necessary for a healthier lifestyle. 

A commitment to positive change and holding oneself accountable in order to achieve the desired results can be difficult, and, yeah, most people fail to fulfill their good-intentioned New Year’s resolutions. It’s because of these very reasons that we now introduce a Tulalip citizen who embodies the most popular resolutions – eat better, exercise more, and lose weight.

Two years ago, Austin Orr weighed a whopping 293 pounds. He and his wife Dawna were caught in a depressive cycle after multiple attempts to grow their family resulted in devastating miscarriages. Their ensuing trauma responses revolved around seeking comfort in eating unhealthy fast food meals and the convenience of staying in and ordering food from mobile apps, like Uber Eats and DoorDash.

Knowing his nearly 300-pound body was at extremely high risk of a litany of life-shortening health issues, Austin made a resounding resolution to change.

“I needed to become healthier, both mentally and physically, which is easier said than done, but after my wife’s last miscarriage, we found out she has a super rare condition that made it nearly impossible for us to have a child,” divulged Austin. “That dream we had to grow our family was over, and in that finality came the realization that we have to rebound and continue pursuing other dreams, other passions.

“When I think back to what my life was like at the time, the best way to describe it is dark. Then, it’s like a light bulb turned on and lit a new path. That was the path to being the best version of myself, which meant making some drastic changes.”

The first of those changes was embracing physical activity. Committing to exercise more is a resolution with far-reaching health benefits. Regular physical activity is associated with improved cardiovascular health, increased muscle strength, enhanced mood, and better overall fitness. Whether opting for brisk walks, gym workouts, or engaging in recreational sports, the positive impact of exercise extends beyond physical health, positively influencing mental well-being and stress management.

“I found a local gym in Marysville that had a variety of weight lifting and cardio equipment, and made it a priority to hit the gym every day after work for 30-45 minutes. A lot of people think the gym is only for super jacked athletes and bodybuilders, but really there are way more people of all different ages and body types in there, getting after it in whatever way works best for them. I’ve seen fit seniors who never lift a weight; they stretch, hop on a cardio machine, and might mix in some bodyweight exercises, but just seeing them in there every day was added motivation,” shared Austin.

The Tulalip tribal member said he frequently watched motivational videos on YouTube. He credited listening to Eric Thomas, Jordan Peterson, and Mel Robbins for effectively changing his mindset from negative to positive, from convenience seeking to challenge seeking, and becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable.

“Anyone who starts a new exercise routine or workout plan is going to hit a wall early on, but that wall is nothing more than our initial reaction to discomfort, doing something we’re not used to doing. Yeah, you’ll be sore, but that soreness means growth. It means what you are doing is working. I remember in the early days, there were mornings I’d wake up and be sore in places I’d never been sore before,” chuckled Austin. “In those moments, I told myself that soreness was the new me defeating the old me.”

An example of one week’s meal prep. 

Stress reduction plays a pivotal role in the quest for a healthier lifestyle. Exercise, a key component of many resolutions, triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural mood enhancers. This contributes to stress reduction by alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression. As individuals prioritize their mental health, the mind-body connection becomes increasingly obvious.

The popular New Year’s resolution of committing to eat better is all about mind-body connection. Having the mental strength or courage to reevaluate an individual’s dietary choices that have resulted in an undesired body. ‘Eating better’ often means including more nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, while minimizing the consumption of processed and sugary foods. The shift towards a nutritious diet not only improves daily nutrition, but also considerably contributes to weight management and a reduced risk of various health issues.

“In the first year of my weight loss journey, I lost 40 pounds by going to the gym 4-5x a week. I wasn’t too committed to the nutrition part yet. Instead, I was focused on turning working out and exercising into a lifestyle, something that I prioritized every day, every week, every month,” admitted Austin. “In year two, I paid for a coach who created a meal plan for me to follow. 

“It worked for me because I’d rather be told exactly what to eat and when versus just winging it and hoping for the best. Clearly, being close to 300 pounds at one point, I didn’t know what a true portion or serving size looked like. I ate whatever tasted good and ate until I was full. After the experience with the coach and meal prepping, I learned so much about what foods actually make me feel good and allow me to thrive not just in the gym, but day to day.”

Austin with his wife Dawna Orr and 7-year-old son Cypress.

For many, the resolution to lose weight is a primary focus, and for Austin, his journey began with that simple desire to shed pounds. In his pursuit to become slimmer, he became healthier. Beyond prioritizing his workout routine, which forced him not to be lazy and taught him better time management, and then finding a sustainable meal plan, which honed a mind-body connection with nutrient-dense foods, he crafted a positive self-image that reflected all the hard work and dedication he displayed on his weight loss journey. 

It was only a matter of weeks ago that Austin’s journey reached a remarkable milestone. He stepped on the scale and it showed 190. Two years filled with countless sweat droplets shed in the gym and more egg whites/chicken/ground turkey/veggies/sweet potatoes than he cares to remember culminated with the 29-year-old tribal member losing 100 pounds. A new body equipped with a new mindset. 

“Looking back at my journey, as cool as it is to say, ‘I’ve lost 100 pounds’, it’s even cooler to say, ‘I’ve gained a whole new outlook on life.’,” reflected Austin. “I used to be lazy, pessimistic and took little to no accountability. Now, I’m full of energy, optimistic for the future, and take full responsibility for all my actions. After learning to hold myself accountable in the gym and for what I eat, I’ve taken those skills and applied them to all areas of my life. 

“I’m accountable as a husband. I’m accountable as a father. I’m accountable as a friend. I’m accountable as an employee. Just being able to say that now is motivation for me to keep doing what I’m doing and continue to challenge myself.”

New Year’s resolutions, when approached with dedication and perseverance, have the potential to pave the way for long-term health benefits. Consistent efforts towards a healthier lifestyle, sustained by a commitment to eating better, losing weight, and exercising regularly, can significantly reduce the risk of chronic diseases and enhance overall quality of life. The ripple effects extend beyond the individual, impacting families, and the greater community.

“After seeing the results from my consistent exercise and better eating habits, my mom (Kandy Ness), who works three jobs, has made the change, too, to prioritize her health. She’s working out and loving it,” beamed Austin. “I hope my story motivates others in Tulalip who want to get healthy. There are a lot of people who’d love to lose 10, 15, or 20 pounds but think it’s impossible, but I’m here as an example that it’s all about the mindset and positive attitude. If I can do it, they can definitely do it.” 

While the allure of a fresh start in the new year is undeniable, it’s crucial to approach resolutions with a realistic mindset. Change is a gradual process, and setbacks are a natural part of the journey. Seeking support from friends, family, or healthcare professionals can enhance accountability and motivation. 

After losing 100 pounds, Austin celebrates by eating a cupcake with his son. 

For any local community members who’ve made a resolution to eat better, exercise more, or lose weight, Austin wants you to know you’re not alone on this journey. He’s more than willing to share more detailed tips and strategies for success that were effective for him during his two-year journey to lose 100 pounds. Austin can be reached at 425-530-4397.

Touchdowns and Tenacity: Joseph Davis’ Drive and Dedication

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News; photos courtesy of Eliza Davis and Marilyn Sheldon 

Amid a turbulent football season riddled with injuries, setbacks, and a limited roster, Tulalip tribal member Joseph Davis emerged as a shining star. Despite adversity, Davis showcased remarkable skills, accumulating over 1,300 total yards. Notably, he played Iron Man-style football, excelling on offense and defense, embodying resilience and determination.

In his junior year playing for the Marysville Pilchuck Tomahawks, Davis earned a well-deserved spot on the Everett Herald’s all-area first-team offense. The accolade recognized his outstanding performance during the 2023-2024 season, where he rushed for an impressive 1,105 yards, averaging 9.1 yards per carry and securing 15 touchdowns. Recently, Tulalip News spoke with Joseph to discuss his season and delve into his plans for the future.

After a tumultuous junior year, how do you feel you did during the 2023-2024 season?

I did well during the times I could play. I missed a couple of games with an ankle injury. I wanted to put a little more on tape for the future and college and get a good film, but I did well during the time I was in. 

What were some significant highlights of your season?

Definitely making it to State. We had a young team, and only six seniors were starters; most were juniors and sophomores. We didn’t have that many guys on our team, maybe 30, that would constantly show up to practice. Every other team that made it to State had around 60 to 80, so it was one of my biggest highlights. 

What does it take to play both sides of the ball?

Conditioning honestly, and mentality. Not many kids can be effective on both sides of the ball. I love hitting people and scoring touchdowns, so it’s fun to play both sides of the ball. 

You make big hits and phenomenal runs out there. Who do you style your play after? 

I watched a lot of Shaun Taylor on defense at safety. Then, on offense, I try to be patient; I have good vision. At running back, I like LeVeon Bell. He is patient. I like his style. 

How much dedication does it take to be a student-athlete?

My whole day consists of school, practice, working out, and studying. I’m trying to keep a high GPA to send it to colleges. Also, trying to get bigger, faster, and stronger consumes much of my time. 

What is your favorite part about playing football?

I get a chance to show my athleticism, and when I’m out there on the field, I feel free. 

Where do you get the will and determination to push through, succeed as you do, and make the tough sacrifices you need to make?

First of all, I have been doing this for so long that it has become my routine from day to day. My dad and my family. I have a sound support system with my family and friends, and my dad is always behind me to help me keep going and is constantly setting up stuff to make me better. 

What do you look forward to going into your senior year of football?

I have been playing with the same group of guys since the sixth grade, so I want to try and make a run for the state championship. 

What do you plan on doing after high school?

Well, I want to go to college to play football. If I can get a college scholarship for D1, D2, or D3, I will investigate it and see if I want to go. Wrestling is on my mind. Getting a wrestling scholarship or going to wrestling college would be really cool. 

What do you have to say to the kids coming up who want to play football? 

Focus on your technique. If you focus on the little things that will take you far. Take it day by day, and grind. 

Clash of the birds, Hawks versus Blackhawks

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

It was another inter-tribal battle on the hardwood when the Lummi Nation Blackhawks journeyed south to take on the Tulalip Hawks on Thursday, January 4. Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium reached near full capacity as family, friends, and casual hoopheads filled the bleachers to witness a rivalry renewed.

First up, the girls. It was an extremely rough start for the Ladyhawks as their two primary ballhandlers both left the game in the 1st half with apparent injury. Their massive production void was evident in the 5-36 halftime score.

Focusing on their increased opportunity to initiate the offense and play-make, senior Kendra McLean and sophomore Lilly Jefferson didn’t pay much attention to the score in the second half. Instead, they opted to embrace their love of the game and do their best to score against their well-known rivals.

In one remarkable sequence, the 5-foot-2-inch Lilly managed to post up much bigger Lummi players to score three consecutive buckets. After each one, the home crowd got progressively louder with their enthusiastic cheering. Her moment’s crescendo was akin to a 180˚ fade-a-way that found its way through the nylon net, followed by an eruption of eager onlookers.

 Kenda also had a mesmerizing moment when, after just hitting her first 3-pointer of the game, she summoned her inner Steph Curry by casually pulling up from five feet behind the arc and drained another deep ball. As the crowd applauded, Kendra and Lilly high-fived one another while beaming gigantic smiles.

 “The other tribal schools are our biggest competitors and bring out the biggest crowds. That’s extra motivation to bring our best game,” shared Kendra post-game. “After I saw that first 3 go in, I thought to myself ‘I got to make a couple more’. Even though we were down, our team doesn’t give up.”

“I knew this game was going to be nerve-racking in the beginning because I have cousins who play for Lummi and we had so much family here watching. Throughout the game, I just had the mindset to keep pushing myself and try to play my best,” added Lilly. 

The Lady Hawks may have ultimately lost, 22-64, but anyone who caught that 2nd half display of basketball purity left a winner. 

Next up, the boys. The (10-1) Blackhawks were riding a 10-game winning streak. During the win streak, Lummi had won every single one of those games by 10+ points. Meanwhile, the 5-4) Hawks were coming off a 42-point thrashing of Shoreline Christian and were in the mood for a huge upset W over their rivals from up north.

The upset dreams were quickly dashed as Lummi executed their offense and defense in an impressive fashion. They forced one Tulalip turnover after another in the early going, and punished the smaller Hawks players in the paint whenever possible. When the reality setting 1st quarter came to an end, the home team trailed 9-33.

Tokala BlackTomahawk showed his shooting touch by connecting on three 3-pointers and an acrobatic layup to lead his team in scoring with 11 points. Ponciano Guzman kept attacking the basket in the 2nd half to chip in 10 points. Despite their efforts, Tulalip lost 33-72. The 33 points was a season-low scored by the Hawks. 

“Our focal point will continue to get better and improve our execution on both ends,” said head coach Shawn Sanchey. “Obviously, we want to stay healthy and play smart to take care of our bodies and avoid lingering injuries, but it’s equally important to develop the discipline it takes to put in the hard work necessary to reach our goals. Applying pressure, using our speed and physicality, and keeping mentally prepared for any opponent we may face going forward are the keys to us making a playoff push.

“At the end of the day, these rivalry games are about enjoying the moment,” continued the Heritage alum. “Like I shared with the boys, these rivalry games are the ones they’ll remember most after their high school days are over. The crowd, the energy, there’s nothing like the feeling of playing in these games.”

Tulalip will host two more fellow tribal schools later this month. Saturday, January 13, when the Neah Bay Red Devils come to town and Saturday, January 27, when the Taholah Black Bears make their journey here. 

Heroes and Hoops

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Tulalip’s local law enforcement laced up their sneakers and got charitable buckets during the evening of Saturday, December 9. The Tulalip police offers were cheered on by family and friends who enjoyed the spectacle from the Marysville Getchell gymnasium bleachers.

The charity game was intended to give local families wholesome entertainment while pulling at the holiday heartstrings in order to garner support and donations for an always worthwhile cause – Toys for Tots. Cash donations were accepted on-site and online. However, the preferred currency was excitement-inducing toys that could be gifted to children of families in need.

On the Chargers homecourt, twelve representatives of the Tulalip Police Department (TPD) wore black jerseys with the iconic orca whale. They routinely subbed in multiple players at a time and made an intentioned effort to clap hands or high-five as they swapped court time for the bench. The camaraderie was contagious as they rooted each other on through buckets and bricks, alike. 

Sargeant Jeff Jira explained how he and his fellow officers had about a dozen practices to develop team chemistry and build up the requisite cardio. “We got together on Sunday mornings to shoot around and play against each other in order to see what everyone’s skill set was. There were a lot of laughs during those practices because a lot of us hadn’t even dribbled a basketball for years and years. It was all a necessary part of getting ready for this charity game and just furthering our brotherhood as TPD officers.

“I’m really glad we opted to participate in such a beneficial cause. We all brought toys to donate before our game. The whole experience brought us closer together, gave us some really good exercise, and hopefully brings some smiles to kids’ faces come Christmas,” added Sgt. Jira.

The actual basketball game turned out to be the best kind of friendly competition. Regardless of the score, opposing players routinely helped each other up and, during one particularly hilarious moment, laughed together after a shooter boldly declared “Kobe!” before shooting an airball.

A back-and-forth affair, that was all tied up at 16-16, eventually saw the TPD officers find their groove offensively. It didn’t hurt that TPD recruit Jay Kupriyanov expressed his desire to join the force by anchoring the basketball team. Jay finished with a game-high 18 points and led the TPD squad to a thrilling 45-38 victory.

After the win, Jay shared, “This is my community. Practicing with them and getting to know each officer even better, just furthers my desire to join the Tulalip Police Department. These guys have been my mentors, and I want nothing more than to join their team permanently.”

If his Christmas wish comes true, Jay’s recruitment process will result in him getting a shiny, new TPD badge. One can only imagine his excitement and pure joy would be similar to those children who will benefit from the charity game by way of opening a shiny, new toy on Christmas morning. 

Battle on the hardwood

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

On Monday, December 4, Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium was the place to be to witness the latest iteration of rez ball. It was an all-tribal affair as your local Heritage Hawks basketball teams hosted the Muckleshoot Kings in an early season battle on the hardwood.

First up, was the Lady Hawks, coached by Sabrina Moses. 

“A lot of my girls are brand new, so we’ve been working a lot on fundamentals in practice,” said coach Sabrina. “Until our return players from last year are able to play, it’ll be a lot of fundamentals and working on the basics of the game.

“Entering tonight’s game, we only have six players, which is a challenge of its own; making sure we prioritize staying out of foul trouble and knowing when to run and when to be patient in order to have energy throughout the entire game with only one sub is huge,” she added.

It would be an uphill battle for the shorthanded Lady Hawks against a more experienced team from Muckleshoot. Tulalip trailed 0-13 midway through the opening quarter when junior guard Audrielle McLean put her home team on the board with a transition layup. With Muckleshoot effectively playing a full-court press, the Lady Hawks would gain much experience dribbling and passing while being constantly pressured by defenders. 

At halftime, Tulalip trailed 8-31. Audrielle accounted for all 8 points, doing her best to capitalize on her stellar on-ball defense to come up with steals that she could then turn into transition buckets before Muckleshoot could set their defense.

In the 2nd half, Lilly Jefferson swished in a few free throws, while Isabelle Jefferson added a 15-foot bank shot that drew applause from the home crowd. However, Muckleshoot continued their bucket getting barrage from all areas of the court and ran away with the W. Tulalip lost 19-57, but not to be forgotten is the defensive effort by the shorthanded squad led by Audrielle jumping one passing lane after another for a double-digit number of steals.

“It’s hard to explain, but when I was out there, I could just see their passes coming and I’d try to tip them to myself to create offense,” said Audrielle post-game. She finished the game with a double-double, amassing 15 points and 10+ steals. 

“Playing iron five style is hard, and I was dealing with leg cramps a little bit, but I was still able to score on them. I can be better because I missed like half my layups, and I know I’m going to hear about that later from my dad,” she added with a smile.

Following the Lady Hawks game, community members continued to pile into the gym’s bleachers for a basketball nightcap. Heritage’s boys team entered the game (1-1), having smacked Darrington 73-26 before losing a 50-52 nail-biter to Concrete. Like their female counterparts, the boys were missing several key players from last year due to injury or not yet being eligible. With freshman phenom J.J. Gray at the helm, there was hope Tulalip could pull off an upset victory over Muckleshoot.

In the 1st quarter, Tulalip was playing their patented run and gun style. The boys were attacking the rim for point-blank shots or kicking out to a wide-open teammate to attempt a 3-pointer. Meanwhile, Muckleshoot, as the larger team, played to their strength and were determined to get post-ups whenever possible and crash the boards for putbacks. The back and forth quarter ended with Tulalip trailing 14-18.

In the 2nd quarter, the game tightened up for the Hawks. Layups were missed and jump shots bricked, while Muckleshoot continued to punish the home team inside. The Hawks would only muster 5 points, all scored by J.J., enroute to a 22-35 halftime deficit. 

The Hawks came out flat to begin the 2nd half. They struggled to box out and grab defensive rebounds, which Muckleshoot continued to capitalize on timely offensive boards. Tulalip trailed by their largest margin of the young season, 30-50, before their offense finally got into gear. Over the quarter’s last three minutes, Hazen, James and Damon each knocked down a long-range jumper that got the crowd pumped up for a comeback. Tulalip finished the 3rd quarter on an 8-0 run, but still trailed 38-50.

Entering the 4th quarter, coach Shawn Sanchey reiterated to his boys the need to box out and secure defensive rebounds; they couldn’t afford to give Muckleshoot extra possessions if they were going to come back. 

On this evening, Muckleshoot was simply the better team and secured their victory with a consistent offense approach of taking advantage of their size advantage. Tulalip lost the inter-tribal battle, 52-71. Freshman guard J.J. led the Hawks in scoring with 19 points. James added 11 points and Tokala Black Tomahawk chipped in 10 points.

A  Baseball Life: The Mike Ashman Story

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

In mid-September, the Seattle Mariners hosted the Los Angeles Angels in a three-game series at T-Mobile Park. At the time, the home team Mariners were still in the thick of a heated playoff race, while the Angels, having suffered a litany of season-ending injuries to their star players, were attempting to remain competitive as their calamitous season came to a close.

Hours before the first pitch of their series-opening game on Monday, September 11, a Tulalip tribal member, dawning the red and gray team-issued colors of the Angels, emerged from the Los Angeles dugout, casually walked out to the pitcher’s mound, and got to work. That man is Mike Ashman, #91 on the Angels’ official coaching directory, and a professional batting practice pitcher in Major League Baseball.

Unlike the typical pitchers employed by baseball teams, Ashman’s job isn’t achieved by striking out hitters or getting them to hit in-field popups. Instead, his primary objective is to throw 60-mph pitches at Angel’s franchise player Mike Trout, and others in the lineup, to find their bat-swinging groove pregame as they turn his precisely placed pitches into thunderclap-sounding home runs.

Pitch after pitch, monstrous hit after monstrous hit, Ashman builds the confidence of professional hitters who are paid millions of dollars to hit a 3-inch in-diameter baseball from spring training in March to MLB playoffs in October. The grueling 162-game regular season is a marathon for managers and players alike who enter each season with dreams of winning the World Series.

But for the 63-year-old Tulalip elder, the baseball grind is the only life he’s known. And what some call a grind, he calls living a dream. 

“I love this game. It really has been everything to me, and when I take a moment to reflect on all the experiences, all the travel and relationships I’ve made, it’s really been unbelievable,” said Ashman while sitting nonchalantly on the Angels dugout rail. “As a kid, I played all sports but baseball was my best sport. I played from Little League to high school. Then, I continued at San Bernardino Valley College for two years before transferring to Cal Poly Pomona, where I was part of the 1980 Division II national champions. 

“After my senior year at Cal Poly, I got drafted by the Oakland A’s and spent five years in their minor league system, making it up to the Triple-A level. Then moved on to the Pittsburgh Pirates for one year playing Double-A and Triple-A ball. After that last year with Pittsburgh, I was 27-years-old and knew I wasn’t good enough to make it to the big leagues. I stepped away from the game and figured it was time to get on with the real world. So, I finished up my business administration degree and got a job with Allstate Insurance.”

The humble elder glossed over just how good his younger self was at hitting, throwing, and catching a baseball. In a detailed accounting, The Poly Post described Ashman as a star player for Bloomington High School, where he was a first-team selection for the San Andreas League twice. In 1975, his team was the California Interscholastic Federation runner-up. Ashman later flourished at Cal Poly where he earned All-America honors and led the Broncos to its 1980 championship title, batting a whopping .365.

Not only did he spend six years playing professionally in the Oakland Athletics’ and Pittsburgh Pirates’ organizations, but he was also a member of the 1980 Collegiate National Team and represented his country while playing in Japan for the U.S. Olympic Team. To recap, in his early 20s, Mike Ashman was an absolute stud. His talents in the batter’s box allowed him to tour the country playing the sport he loved both as a collegiate athlete and professional minor leaguer. His versatile skills on green diamond also gave him the opportunity to travel the globe while representing his country in world champion tournaments.

“Think of it back then as the equivalent of the World Baseball Classic or better yet, the Olympics. I was just a college kid playing against grown men, professionals from Japan, Korea, Cuba, and Italy. We played in all the major league parks in Japan, which was just amazing to me at the time. Our team performed well for a bunch of kids and we brought home a bronze medal,” Ashman said. 

Following a short stint in the ‘real world’, where left baseball and worked an actual nine-to-five, he found a new calling for the game he loved. Although this time it wasn’t playing, it was coaching. 

Ashman was an assistant coach at Riverside Community College for five years and hitting coach for the University of Nebraska for one season before settling in as head coach of his alma mater Cal Poly in 1996. He’d spend 15 years at the helm, amassing an overall record of 358-419-4. In 2010, the grizzled coach opted to resign in order to answer a new call being offered by the big leagues.

“Coach Ashman has been instrumental in the development of countless young men competing for Cal Poly Pomona, especially on a personal basis,” said Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Brian Swanson in The Poly Post. “He has been a hands-on coach and continues to maintain relationships with student-athletes long after they have left the campus and have become professionals in their chosen profession.”

In 2011, Ashman entered the most recent chapter of his baseball journey. Accepting a full-time position as a batting practice pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels. During his tenure, he’s pitched to some of the greatest individual talents the game has ever seen. From 3x National League MVP Albert Pujols to 3x American League MVP Mike Trout, and, who some MLB commentators describe as the greatest player since Babe Ruth, 2021 American League MVP Shohei Ohtani. 

“They’ve all lit me up,” Ashman says with a chuckle. “That’s the goal: to have them hitting for consistent power pregame so they can do it when it matters most. There’s nothing like being able to witness true greatness in action. And knowing I’m just a small part of their much larger stories is pretty cool.”

On that mid-September Monday, hours before a matchup with the Mariners, he takes his usual spot on the pitcher’s mound, behind a protective L screen. While he throws to a new up-and-coming crop of Angels hitters, his sister, Caroline, and daughter, Delaney, watch with admiration as their major leaguer throws pitch after pitch. 

Following batting practice, Angels hitting coach Marcus Thames said of #91, “He’s coached in college. He’s coached in pro ball, and he’s played in pro ball. He’s a jack of all trades, but most of all he knows the game. When it comes to batting practice, he knows what kind of pitches each hitter likes and where to place them so our guys can build their confidence and get their hits going. Whatever our guys need, he’s there for them. He’s great at what he does.”

With the 2023 season nearing its end and his 64th birthday only weeks away, Ashman is asked how much longer he plans to dedicate his life to the game he loves.

While pondering his answer, the Tulalip baseball pioneer responds with, “It’s funny because I tell people I’ve only worked three years my entire life, the three years I was an Allstate agent. It’s rare for someone to do this as long as I have. It’s something I think about from time to time. But every season brings new players, new challenges with new solutions, and new conversations in the clubhouse.”

Ashman then recalled a conversation with the face of the Angels franchise, Mike Trout. “Back in 2019, when Trout signed his 12-year, $400 million contract extension, he told me, ‘You’re staying until the end of my contract.’ My response to him was ‘Do you realize I’ll be 70 by then?!’ and he just looked at me and smiled. So, to answer your question, I guess I’ll be doing it as long as I can.”

A hard-fought outing for the Heritage Hawks

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News  

Amidst the crisp air of the Cascade Mountains, a dedicated group of Tulalip community members embarked on a lengthy journey to support their beloved football team, the Tulalip Heritage Hawks. Their destination: Concrete High School Stadium on the chilly night of Thursday, October 12th.

This season has been nothing short of a test for the 8-man Iron football team, with a division record of 2-4 and an overall record of 2-5. Their recent victory over the Crescent Loggers had the Hawks brimming with optimism. However, they encountered a formidable challenge when they faced off against the tough Concrete Lions.

The Lions wasted no time setting the tone for the game, racing to a 28-0 lead during the first half. The Hawks grappled with moving the ball downfield, needing help to secure first downs and find themselves in scoring range.

But halftime proved to be a turning point. A motivating pep talk from the coach and a quarterback change breathed new life into the Hawks. With unwavering determination, they took to the field for the second half. Their defense made crucial stops, which allowed them to capitalize on two possessions, culminating in a touchdown and a successful two-point conversion, narrowing the score to 16-28.

However, the day’s standout performance came from Concrete’s quarterback, who seemed unstoppable. His 50-yard touchdown pass and a successful rushing attempt left the Hawks unable to counter. As the game concluded, the scoreboard read Tulalip 16, Concrete 40.

“I think we started slow; it was a rough first quarter; we gave up a couple of touchdowns,” Defensive Coordinator Deyamonta Diaz said. “They had a talented quarterback; we had watched film on him and knew he was good. I told the team if they look fast on film, they are probably faster in person. In the second half, we made a good adjustment, and the guys kicked it in gear, tried to salvage something of it and put a couple of touchdowns on the board. You got to be ready all four quarters, and don’t wait, was our message to the team after the loss.”

Deyamonta continued, “This has been a rebuilding year, and we have had some good things to be proud of. The level of commitment, work ethic, and consistency has risen. The kids are dedicated on and off the field. It shows in their schoolwork and how they hold themselves in the community. We snapped a 3-year losing streak, putting together a couple of wins. The season isn’t over yet, and we look to win the next two and hopefully make the playoffs.”

With just two games remaining in the season, the Hawks are determined to finish on a high note. Their last home game is slated for Saturday, October 21st, and they’ll close out the season on Friday, October 27th, facing Lummi in Bellingham.

Tulalip-Marysville Hawks battle it out on the gridiron

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News 

The stands were electric, without concern for the rain, thanks to the newly covered bleachers at the Alpheaus “Gunny” Jones, Sr. ball field in Tulalip. The Tulalip-Marysville Hawks Midget and Peewee football leagues faced off against the Golden Eagles from Ferndale on Saturday, September 23. 

First up was the Midget league consisting of boys and girls 10–12 years old. The Hawks were off to a slow start and fell behind early in the game as Ferndale took the lead 14-6. After some halftime adjustments, the Hawks battled back with two touchdowns in the 3rd quarter due to a couple of fumbles by Ferndale, giving the Hawks the lead heading into the fourth. With another fumble in the fourth quarter by Ferndale, the Hawks recovered the ball, drove down the field, and put the game out of reach with a 6-yard touchdown, extending their lead to 18. The final score of the contest was Tulalip-Marysville 32, Ferndale 14.

A tough fought contest; ultimately, the several turnovers Ferndale endured in the second half, mixed with some great runs by the Hawks, gave Tulalip-Marysville the win and brought their record on the season to 2-2. Coach Marshall Guthrie said, “It started slow, but we ended up doing good. The kids did great and fought hard out there, and we got the win.”

Next up were the Peewee League kids from 9 to 11 years old. Coming off a 3-game losing streak, the crew from Tulalip-Marysville were looking to turn things around. The Hawks offense started on high cylinders, bouncing off defenders and bursting across the field, scoring early in the first quarter. Their defense ran a shutdown performance, holding the Golden Eagles scoreless in the first half. Looking in control on both sides of the ball, the Hawks extended their lead 19 to nothing in the fourth quarter. Looking like a shutout, the Ferndale Golden Eagles managed to break free for a long run, scoring a touchdown as time ran out, leading to the final score of Tulalip-Marysville 19, Ferndale 6, giving the Hawks their first win on the season and bringing their record to 1-3.

Catch the Hawks on their home field, Saturday, September 30th; kickoff starts at 10:00 a.m. 

Seattle Seahawks throwback is a tribute to Coast Salish culture 

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The Seattle Seahawks logo is that rarest of birds: a culturally accurate sports icon directly inspired by a Coast Salish masterpiece — and one seemingly universally embraced by the Coast Salish people who inspired the original formline design. 

A design that is making a long overdue and welcomed return during the 2023 NFL season after the Seahawks announced details of the team’s official throwback uniform set to debut this fall. Over the summer, the Seahawks released photos of the Kingdome-era threads on all their social media pages and official team website to much excitement amid the fanbase.

“I’ve always been a big fan of these jerseys just seeing pictures around the building, so to put this on is pretty cool,” quarterback Geno Smith said via the team’s website. “I think fans are going to love it. It’s cool that they’re bringing it back, and it’s cool that we get to be the team that brings them back. Hopefully, the fans will love it, and we’ll go out there and kick a lot of butt in these things.”

(Photo: Twitter/Seattle Seahawks)

 For some fans, this was a reintroduction to the team’s traditional uniforms worn from 1976-2001 that Hall of Famers Steve Largent, Cortez Kennedy, and Walter Jones wore on game days. For other fans, it was a history lesson as they viewed the royal blue, Northwest green, and metallic silver color combo for the very first time.

But beyond the traditional colors of the ‘70s is the return of the original Seahawks logo, which is generally considered a highly stylized spin on classic, Pacific Northwest formline.

Origin story unmasked

Not so breaking news! There is no such thing as an actual Seahawk. Ornithology experts theorize the term Seahawk refers to a combination of an osprey, which is a bird of prey native to coastal North America, and a skua, which, in the Pacific Northwest, we usually call a seagull. If there isn’t an actual “Seahawk” found in nature, then what inspired the professional football team’s original logo?

The consensus is that in 1976, the NFL commissioned a logo for the newly formed Seattle football team. Then-General Manager Ted Thompson wanted the Seahawks’ logo to reflect “Northwest Indian culture.” He and his team of concept designers must have been Native culture enthusiasts who stumbled across a truly remarkable piece of Indigenous Northwest Coastal art. That artwork in question was a Kwakwaka’wakw (pronounced: KWA-kwuh-kyuh-wakw), a transformation mask from northeastern Vancouver Island. 

In September 2014, the Burke Museum on the University of Washington campus learned of the mask’s whereabouts and launched an online fundraising campaign to bring it back to Coast Salish territory. Raising the money needed to conserve, insure, and ship the mask across the country didn’t take long. Within weeks of arrival, the hidden history of the mask was unveiled, and the origin story of the Seahawks logo went public.

Even though the exact inspiration behind the Seahawks’ logo remained a mystery for decades, what has always been certain is its positive celebration by Coast Salish tribes. All along the Salish Sea, citizens of sovereign Native nations have used the logo to empower contemporary artists who have re-appropriated the Seahawk’s iconic imagery into our culture.

“Great things inspire imitations. In the same way that so many Native people and white people and Asians are inspired by hip-hop, an art form created by Black people, many people are inspired by our beautiful art,” said Native advocate, criminal defense lawyer, and Seattle resident Gyasi Ross. “Native people have some beautiful artwork; of course, it inspires people to want a piece of it. The Seahawks logo is a perfect example of that. And we love it.

“But also, the Seahawks are actually active and respectful of the huge Native community here in the Pacific Northwest,” he added. “From speaking at graduations to speaking out against the [old Washington] Redskins mascot, the Seahawks have a great relationship with the Native community here, both urban and reservation-based.”

The Tulalip-Seahawk connection

Their commitment to Native communities distinguishes the Seahawks from so many other organizations that claim to honor Native culture with their logos and mascots, yet contribute little or nothing to their local tribes. In fact, the Seahawks have a history of significantly impacting the Tulalip Tribes.

Back in 2008, Seahawk Bobby Engram collaborated with Home Depot, the Kaboom! Program, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County to build a 50-by-50-foot playground at the reservation’s ‘Club.’ In 2014, following the tragic Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting, the Seahawks hosted tribal member Nate Hatch and his family at CenturyLink Field (now Lumen Field), where they received VIP treatment from both players and coaching staff.

Additionally, Seattle Seahawks legend Michael Bennett hosted a once-in-a-lifetime football camp for Tulalip community youth in June 2019. Nearly 250 participants, ages 7 to 18, had an opportunity to catch a pass from and do drills with the Super Bowl champion. Afterward, Bennett stuck around to sign autographs and take photos with every single one of his adoring fans. 

Most recently, former Seahawk players Cooper Helfet and Jermaine Kearse landed a seaplane in Tulalip Bay in exciting fashion before spending an afternoon with 30 Tulalip youth at the local youth complex.

Empowerment through representation

A history of positive impact. Countless moments to uplift Tulalip youth and inspire them to always dream big. Promoting healthy lifestyle choices and physical fitness as a means of self-discipline to achieve long-term goals. The reciprocal nature of the Seattle Seahawks organizational respect for local tribes and the empowering, prideful Native fandom they’ve garnered in return continues to manifest itself in truly imaginative ways.

For starters, it’s common to see the Seahawks logo reimagined via eye-catching Coast Salish craftsmanship via all possible mediums. Native American artisans have reimagined the formline-based Seahawk as blankets, clothing, beaded earrings, attention-grabbing medallions, wooden panels, furniture, flags, face masks, and even six-foot chainsaw carvings that come together to celebrate the evolution of art, ingenuity, and true fandom. 

“The Seahawks have given back to our community in so many ways and really made a difference in the lives of our youth,” shared Youth Services manager and lifelong fan Josh Fryberg, whose large family buys new Seahawks jerseys representing their favorite players every year. “As for the connection between the Seahawks and Coast Salish art, the roots definitely run deep. For my family, we have a lot of Seahawks-themed artwork created by very talented Native artists, both from Tulalip and other tribes. More than the art, though, the Seahawks mean family togetherness. Every Blue Friday, we rock our jerseys, and every game day we gather as a family to cheer on our Seahawks.”

The unique partnership between the Seahawks organization and Coast Salish tribes, who comprise part of the devout 12th Man fan base, took on a whole new meaning after the surprise announcement of a 10-year partnership deal with the Muckleshoot Tribe. This partnership is embodied by a Muckleshoot-created installation at Lumen Field’s north entrances. Dubbed “Muckleshoot Plaza,” this Indigenous space features a massive, reimagined Seahawk, two salmon, a canoe, and even Lushootseed text. The impossible-to-miss architecture designed by Muckleshoot artists reminds all who pass by that they are guests on Coast Salish land. 

“This artwork will not only inspire our communities but also educate them on the important history of the Native Americans in this region,” said Chuck Arnold, President of the Seattle Seahawks. “We look forward to a long and meaningful partnership for many years to come.”

2023 throwback and beyond

Whether the Seattle Seahawks contend for this year’s Super Bowl or not, in the hearts and minds of tens of thousands of Coast Salish tribal members, they will always be champions. Not because they’ve hoisted a Vince Lombardi Trophy, but because our professional football team respects their local Native American communities off the field – where it matters most.

Merging the past with the present while paying tribute to tradition is embodied by those who dawn the Seahawks throwback jersey. This is why the iconic logo can be seen so vividly on Blue Fridays, worn by casino patrons as they wager on the home team, and throughout Coast Salish territory by proud members of the 12th Man Army. 

Coast Salish swag takes over T-Mobile Park

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

It’s impossible to know how many Native Americans attended the Seattle Mariners vs. Oakland Athletics baseball game on August 28. But what we do know is the official attendance for the Monday night game, dubbed ‘Salute to Native American Heritage’ night, was announced as a whopping 37,434 people.

And a nice chunk of that thirty-seven grand were citizens of Pacific Northwest tribes who journeyed to the Emerald City hours before first-pitch to get their hands on a highly coveted, limited-edition jersey created by Muckleshoot tribal artists. It was impossible to miss the intricately detailed beaded medallions, always striking cedar woven hats, and various forms of turquoise jewelry that visually proclaimed, “Our culture is alive and thriving!”

Lines wrapped around the multiple stadium entrances with anxious fans who wanted to be wrapped in a navy blue and Northwest green colored Mariners jersey that featured Coast Salish form line. Only the first 10,000 fans received the first-of-its-kind jersey.

Prior to first pitch, the Muckleshoot Canoe Family took to the always stunningly manicured green grass of T-Mobile Park and shared their culture through dance and song accompanied by traditional hand drum beats. 

Throughout the evening, the Mariner’s 11,000-square-foot scoreboard routinely displayed facts about Indigenous tribes of Washington. One example read: “There are more than 30 tribes throughout the state of Washington and over 140,000 Native American citizens in the state alone.” Another read: “Chief Sealth or Chief Seattle was a Suquamish and Duwamish chief respected for his peaceful ways and is the namesake of the city.”

During actual gameplay, the Mariners, who recently took 1st place in their division for the first time in 20 years, gave their adoring fans much to cheer over 9 full innings. Center fielder J.P Crawford hit a 394-foot homerun in the Mariners’ first at-bat of the opening inning. The home team jumped out to a 1-0 lead and never looked back. 

Franchise phenom Julio Rodriguez added to the excitement by crushing a two-run, 420-foot bomb in the 4th inning. He finished the game 4-5 with 3 runs scored and 3 RBI. During a postgame interview, Julio said, “It’s really good. I feel like everybody is playing like we all know we could,” Rodríguez said. “It’s been really good seeing everybody having fun, seeing everybody getting good at-bats and getting on base and passing the baton, and getting the big hits when we need them.”

Ultimately, the M’s won a memory-filled, 7-0 shutout in front of the largest Monday crowd they’ve had all season. Adding to the legendary game that was, ‘Salute to Native American Heritage’ night.