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.