Lady Hawks season ends with near miracle comeback

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

After narrowly losing to Orcas Island, 29-34, in a defensive battle in their opening game of the NW1B District playoffs, the Tulalip girls hosted their crosstown rival Grace Academy on Tuesday, February 6, in a loser-out game. In front of a horde of their devout fans, the Lady Hawks took to the Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium hardwood with full knowledge of the stakes: win and advance, lose and go home. 

In their two regular season matchups, Tulalip bested Grace 33-27 and 41-29, which gave the home team a boost of confidence seeing the same opponent a third time. That confidence showed on Tulalip’s opening possession when Audrielle McLean splashed a 3-pointer on her first touch and gave her team a 3-0 lead. It showed when moments later Lilly Jefferson shot a midrange jumper that banked in. Those 5 early points would be all the Lady Hawks could muster for a long while though, as Grace implemented a 3-2 zone that stifled Tulalip’s perimeter-oriented offense. 

Trailing 5-11 midway in the 2nd quarter, sophomore forward Raylee Lewis battled for an offensive rebound and was rewarded with a put-back bucket. The 5’5” Raylee again snatched a rebound away from Grace’s nearly 6-foot center, and put up a super quick layup off the glass before any defenders could contest. Her two buckets were the Lady Hawks only ones in the 2nd quarter.

Fast forward to early in the 3rd quarter, Tulalip trailed 11-25 and things began to look bleak. The transition game that the girls made their bread and butter on all season was nonexistent, and to make matters worse their senior guard Tieriana McLean was out for the remainder of the game with a wrist injury. They also had no answer for Grace’s center Candice Mugo who resembled Shaq with her dominating presence in the paint.

BUT, and it’s a big but, the beauty of sports is sometimes miracles happen. Epic comebacks. Catastrophic collapses. And whether or not any one thought they could actually come back against such undesirable circumstances, junior guard Audrielle did. At least her play conveyed that.

From late in the 3rd quarter to midway through the 4th, her teammates fought for every loose ball, did their best to corral every rebound and force turnovers, and each time they got another possession, they’d immediately look for Audrielle and pass her the ball. She turned into a true solo artist on offense. Splashing one deep 3-pointer after another. Each met with a louder and louder cheer from the home crowd. After her sixth made 3 ball, the Lady Hawks had clawed their way back to get within one possession of Grace, 28-30, with just under 2:00 left.

Comeback almost nearly complete, the Lady Hawks got a few quality looks in the games final seconds, but they would rim out. Grace would feed their post monster, who scored on their next two possessions, and that was a wrap. Tulalip lost on their home floor 28-35, ending their season.

Audrielle finished with 19 points, Raylee added 6 points, Lilly scored 2 points, and Isabelle score 1 point. 

“This season was my first time ever playing basketball,” shared 15-year-old Raylee after the game. “I’ve got a lot of cousins on the team and they were the ones who convinced me to play. My coaches and teammates kept telling me how much I was improving practice after practice and game after game. Looking back at how far I’ve come from the beginning to now, it really did mean so much to play on this team and in front of so many fans from the community. I’m not known as a scorer, so with this being our last game, it was actually real exciting to get some buckets with my parents and grandparents in the stands.”

Hawks get gigantic W over Mt. Vernon Christian

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The Tulalip Hawks hit the road and travelled north for a matchup with the Hurricanes of Mt. Vernon Christian. A 3rd round game of Districts with a chance to play in the 1st/2nd place game, Tulalip’s adoring fans hit the road, too, and actually outnumbered the Hurricanes fans in their own building.

A tense atmosphere in the early going as both teams traded buckets to notch it at 7-7. With chants of “Defense!”, the boys turned up their defensive intensity and forced the Hurricanes to play out of their comfort zone. Tulalip got their transition game going and continued to force the tempo to run up a 28-21 lead at halftime.

Midway in the 3rd quarter, freshman guard J.J. Gray caught fire from deep and swished in three straight 3’s to push his team’s 43-31. With 3:00 in the 3rd quarter, the Hurricane’s called timeout to attempt to settle their team, but instead were met with a devastating chant of “Tulalip Power!” from the unrelenting visiting fans. 

In the 4th quarter, the game tightened up and the usual shots for the Hawks weren’t falling. The Hurricanes finally started to execute their offense and flipped the turnover script by getting Tulalip to force errant pass after errant pass. The boys watched their 12 point lead vanish and were suddenly trailing 43-44 with three minutes to go. 

Freshman guard Amare Hatch finally put an end to his team’s scoring drought by coming up with a steal and scoring a contested layup. Moments later he’d splash a 3 that put his team up for good, 48-45. Just for good measure, senior forward Hazen Shopbell, instead of holding the ball and waiting for the Hurricanes to foul him, opted to shoot a 3 of his own and join in on the long ball party. Fortunately, it went in to the delight and uproar of his teammates and all the Tulalip fans who knew the W was secured. 

The Hawks 52-46 win means no less than 2nd place in Districts. They’ll again hit the road, this time for Lummi Nation, for a matchup with the Blackhawks on February 8. 

Hawks soar over Concrete Lions

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The Tulalip Heritage boys basketball team finished a hard fought regular season with a (12-6) record. Having won seven of their final eight games, the Hawks earned a high seed in the NW1B District playoffs and the right to host a playoff game.

            On Saturday, February 3, family and friends lined the bleachers of Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium to cheer on their local teenage hoopers as they hosted the (7-14) Concrete Lions. This would be the third meeting between Tulalip and Concrete, with both getting a W on their home court previously.

It was a pressure-filled 1st quarter as the Hawks came out tight in the opening minutes of their first playoff game. Senior guard Chano Guzman did his best to set the tone offensively with his usual attacking style. He knocked down two 3-pointers and three middy’s to score 12 points in the 1st. With 2:15 to play in the 1st quarter, the score was tied 14-14. The Lions were able to keep pace by hitting 3-pointers of their own and capitalizing on their bigger front-line players securing offensive rebounds and put back buckets.

Concrete continued their overachieving play to take their first lead of the game 20-18 early in the 2nd quarter. It would be a super short-lived lead though as it seemed to spark Tulalip’s competitive fire. Fueled by their unrelenting pressure defensively, the boys forced Concrete into one turnover after another. Each seemingly leading to transition layup or high percentage shot. Six Hawks players scored down the stretch before halftime, then freshman guard J.J. Gray caught fire in the 2nd half. 

After the Hawks went down 18-20 early in the 2nd quarter, they used stifling defense and a diverse offensive attack to go an incredible 38-8 run that spanned to late in the 3rd quarter. Now up big 56-28, head coach Shawn Sanchey used the comfortable lead to insert his bench to the cheer of the crowd. 

Nearly every shot by a reserve player received a little roar of anticipation from the crowd and benched starters, who were more than eager to see their brethren get a playoff bucket. Final score was a whopping 72-49 win. The Hawks were led in scoring by J.J.’s 25 points and Chano’s 22 points, while seven of their teammates also got into the box score. 

After the game, Coach Shawn shared his thoughts on the playoff W. “Having played Concrete twice before, we had a good idea on what we’d see from them and which areas we really needed to prioritize. The first two games, we weren’t at full strength either, so that was a benefit this time around knowing we were at full strength.

“It was impressive to see one of our senior leaders on the team, Chano, rise to the occasion early with his on-ball defense and timely buckets. He’s been a part of our Heritage program for a few years now and has the experience needed to keep our team together in tough moments and set the tone for us.”

Lastly, Coach Shawn added the significance of his starters taking control of the game and building the big lead so that their teammates could get some court time. “I tell the boys every game that they owe to the game and their team to work hard each quarter so the whole team gets a chance to play. Everyone, starters and bench players, works super hard and grinds every practice to get us here, so it’s only fair that we work hard in games like this to get our whole team some court time.”

Hawks and Lady Hawks enter playoff mode

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

It’s been a roller coaster like season for the Lady Hawks. This up and down, twist and turn filled ride is most evident by their final two home games.

On Saturday, January 27, Tulalip hosted fellow tribal school Taholah at Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium. We’ll save the disastrous details and simply refer to this one as a game to forget as the Lady Hawks found themselves on the wrong end of an 83-11 thumping. 

Forty-eight hours later, the girls rebounded in a huge way when Shoreline Christian came to town on Monday, January 29.  A slow-paced opening quarter yielded buckets by Tieriana, Audrielle, Raylee, and Kendra who combined to put their team ahead, 9-4.

Over the 2nd and 3rd quarters, the Lady Hawks found their groove in an emphatic way. With the McLean sisters spearheading the attack, the home team got the crowd into a frenzy by forcing Shoreline to turn the ball over and over again. Each time resulted in a transition opportunity for either an Audrielle layup or a Tieriana 3-pointer.

Entering the 4th quarter, Tulalip led 37-17. Kendra, a senior forward, continued to battle multiple Shoreline players to secure rebounds which opened up uncontested shot attempts for her teammates. When only being single covered, she’d use her size advantage to shoot over the smaller defender. 

To the delight of all the friends and family who turned out for senior night, the Lady Hawks bounced back the Taholah loss with a 52-24 W. Audrielle led all scorers with 22 points, her big sister scored 18 points, and Kendra added 8 points.

After the game, senior guard Tieriana shared, “Being senior night, there was a lot of pressure to perform and get the win. Usually when I miss shots early in the game, I quit shooting late, but that didn’t happen today. I kept shooting and, especially in that 3rd quarter, I got hot. [Steph Curry hot]. After our tough loss to Taholah, we really needed this game and we got it.”

When was asked how much it meant to get this W for her sister on senior night, junior guard Audrielle quipped, “I don’t know. A lot!” Fair enough. She then added, “This win boosts our confidence with playoffs coming up. That’s for sure.”

As of January 31, the WIAA website showed the Tulalip Lady Hawks earning a play-in bye, which sets them up with a Saturday, February 3, showdown with Orcas Island at Orcas Island high school. Tip scheduled for 12:30pm.


Hawks secure #2 seed with back-to-back Ws at home

The Tulalip Heritage Hawks were riding a 4-game winning streak when they faced off with Taholah on Saturday, January 27. The gym was near full capacity with some people going so far as to bring in chairs from staff offices in order to sit down. Playing another tribal school always adds some extra juice to players on the court and fans sitting courtside.

The boys mauled their opponent from the get go, jumping out to a 20-9 after one quarter of play. Playing their patented style of run-and-gun offense, fueled by forcing turnovers, would wear on Taholah’s starters as the game went along. 

While Heritage dictated tempo, freshman guard J.J. Gray carved up the Taholah defense at every opportunity. At halftime, J.J. had 19 points and nearly outscored the visitors by himself as the home team led 37-19.

In the second half, Chano Guzman, Tokala BlackTomahawk, and Amare Hatch would score an array of buckets from within the painted area and along the perimeter to put the game away.

The Hawk’s extended their winning streak to 5 with a 67-45 win. Tulalip was led by J.J.’s 22 points, while Tokala scored 13 points, and both Chano and Amare had 11 points each.

“Our practices have been improving, our team energy is going up, and our mentality is getting right,” remarked senior guard Chano of the team’s win streak.

“All the fans filling the gym and their energy we definitely feed off,” added freshman guard J.J.

Tulalip thrived in their home court advantage, once again, just two days later when they hosted Shoreline Christian. Head coach Shawn Sanchey, a Heritage alum and four-year hooper, understood the importance of senior night for his squad and trotted out an all-senior lineup.

Senior forward Hazen Shopbell Jr. responded to the starting nod by knocking down a midrange jumper and then swishing a 3-pointer. Up 5-0 in the early going, Coach Sanchey called timeout to get his normal starters into the game and his seniors a rousing ovation as they hit the bench. Shoreline responded by going on a run of their own and took a short-lived lead, 5-6.

Once Tulalip’s offense found its normal tempo, it was a wrap. At the end of the 1st quarter, the boys led 16-11. By the end 2nd quarter, that lead was pushed to 29-19. There was some contentious moments, fueled by physical play by both teams and the heightened tension from a packed house, but it proved to only fuel contributions from Tokala BlackTomahawk and Amare Hatch.

Tokala scored 12 points, including two 3-pointers, and Amare scored 18 points, including three 3-pointers, that kept the Hawks rowdy fanbase in classic form while the home team secured another W, 59-34.

With the winning streak now at 6 in a row, Coach Sanchey described how much the big night meant to his boys.

“Senior night is really important to the kids. I still remember my senior night and how much it meant to have all the support in the stands, rooting us on,” he said. “Staring five seniors allowed for them take in the moment and hopefully share in an experience they’ll never forget. And they responded, too, by helping us to the early lead. 

“Of course, there were some moments of adversity late in the 1st half, but my coaching staff has prepared them for moments like that. We emphasize fighting through adversity, keeping the motor going, and not letting anything dictate what we know we’re capable of achieving on the court. They really showed that resilient mindset tonight. I’m really proud of all our players.” 

As of January 31, the WIAA website showed the Tulalip Hawks earning the right to host a home playoff game in the opening round of Districts. Game time and opponent yet to be determined. However, it will be played at Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium on Saturday, February 3.

New Year’s resolution series: Ty Juvinel elevates Coast Salish culture with Kraken collaboration

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a New Year’s resolution as a promise to do something differently in the new year. That definition doesn’t really do justice for the true dream chasers out there. Individuals with the courage to take risks and push themselves beyond their perceived limits to achieve something incredible. For these types, resolutions are merely goal-oriented tasks that bring them one step closer to fulfilling a dream.

Enter Tulalip artist Ty Juvinel and his dream of fusing formline, the traditional art form of our Coast Salish ancestors, with his passion for the Washington’s professional sports scene. Following the newly minted Seattle Kraken officially announcing their team name and logo, in July 2020, it was a perfect blend of rhyme and reason for Ty to attempt to manifest his dream.

“The first helmet I did was simply a passion project. Something I wanted to do to challenge myself by creating something new,” recalled Ty. “I’m a big hockey fan. Other people may not view it this way, but I view hockey as an evolution of Lacrosse, which is an Indigenous sport. But also, if you do some research and look up Mic-Mac hockey sticks, you’ll find the best hockey sticks of the early twentieth century were made by First Nations people….[rest of quote]

“After I finished the helmet I posted it online and shared with people close to the Kraken organization. Seemingly, there was no interest,” he divulged. “But that didn’t stop me from continuing to try and make my dream a reality.”

As 2020 rolled into 2021 and then 2022, a new development began to take form within the intersection of creativity and athletics. A new trend emerged as up-and-coming artists began finding unique opportunities to collaborate with professional sports teams. This innovative partnership is redefining the way sports and art converge, turning the gigantic fan bases of professional teams into a platform for artists to showcase their talents to a much broader audience.

Seattle Kraken vice-president of brand, Aaron Wiggan, recalled how it became a priority for to collaborate with local Indigenous artists. “It began by understanding how much representation matters. When we think about Seattle and the fabric of culture in this place, so much of it is rooted within the Coast Salish people and history. It’s something that really separates this region from other places across the United States. 

“It became a foundational component of who we want to be as a team, to connect with different communities, specifically tribal communities. There’s probably no better way for a mass audience to engage with, relate to, and understand a culture better than through art,” he added. “Ty is such a generous person. He showed up wanting to participate, willing to give a lot of himself and his artwork to us, but also desiring to share with us his history and his people’s history.”

More than two years after fusing formline and fandom, an opportunity afforded to him by Marysville local Bill Yates who sent him the initial mask to mock-up, Ty received an invitation by the Kraken to collaborate. What was just a farfetched idea planted by a Tulalip artisan strolling the sands of Mission Beach looking for inspiration was about to bloom into a true cross culture collaboration.

Ty began working closely with Aaron and his fellow members of the Kraken’s brand team to infuse his creative vision into various aspects of the team’s identity. This included several brainstorming sessions regarding custom traditional item with remixed Kraken imagery (paddle and drum), conceptualizing stunning Coast Salish awareness campaigns (land acknowledgement), and even designing iconic team merchandise (masks and jerseys) that resonate with local hockey fans on a deeper level. All while paying homage to the ever-vibrant tribal culture that remains omnipresent in our Coast Salish territory. 

Kraken CEO Tod Leiweke and Ty before one of their creative meetings.

As fate would have it, Kraken CEO Tod Leiweke kept a carved and painted paddle gifted from Ty in his office. In a meeting between the CEO, Brand VP, and Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer to discuss his desire to have a one-of-a-kind mask created for the team’s upcoming Indigenous People’s Night, Philipp spotted the paddle and asked, “Who made this?”

In the weeks after that fateful meeting, Philipp, who is a German citizen, would befriend Ty. Even going so far as to visit the Tulalip Reservation multiple times, including bringing his German parents with to visit the Hibulb Cultural Center while Ty offered his cultural perspective as tour guide. Philipp and Ty discussed design imagery for the intended mask, with each subsequent conversation serving to strengthen the bond between professional player and devout fan.

Kraken goalie and 12-year NHL pro Philipp Grubauer has ventured to Tulalip multiple times after meeting Ty.

“Philipp really wanted something that represented all the Tribes in Washington State, which as we know is a difficult concept for such a small canvas like a goalie helmet, so I chose some iconic Coast Salish imagery,” explained Ty. “Using the air vent holes as eyes, there are Kraken with salmon spirits on each side, a spirit bird on the crown, a wolf along the chin strap, and on the back plate is a bear fishing for salmon. The design also includes a German eagle to represent Philipp’s ancestry.”  

Upon receiving the freshly painted helmet and seeing all the fabulous formline gracing its contoured shape, Philipp, the 12-year NHL pro goalie, shared, “Unbelievable! This is one of the coolest masks or the coolest mask I’ve ever had. Incredible work. I’m so happy with it and so excited to wear it.”

Ty’s mask made it’s professional debut last month, when the Kraken held their Indigenous People’s Night at Climate Pledge Arena on December 9. Among 17,000 fans in the sold-out arena was Ty and his family, including 13-year-old son Landon and 11-year-old daughter Teagan.

“Being able to share that moment with family was everything. I had tears in my eyes because it was such a powerful moment seeing our culture be recognized in a way that’s never happened before,” said Ty. “It’s recognition on a different level, a national level. How many people from around the continent watched that game and got to see our culture be recognized and honored? It’s powerful, that’s the best I can put it.

“Definitely a lot of emotion because this whole thing started as an idea I had for what it would look like if Seattle’s newest sports team used our art, our aesthetic to create their designs,” he continued. “It went from that idea to one phone call, a couple years later, inviting me to collaborate that made my dream a reality. Now, I can use this experience to tell my fellow artists and the ones coming up to never stop dreaming. I’m just a kid from the Rez. If I can do something like this, then others can, too.”

As the trend of up-and-coming artists collaborating with professional sports teams continues to gain momentum, the future looks promising for both worlds. This mutually beneficial relationship not only provides artists with unprecedented visibility, it also enriches the fan experience by introducing diverse visual elements to the world of sports.

“Philipp Grubauer only uses a two-mask rotation and Ty’s is one of them, so seeing his mask on TV will continue to be routine,” stated Aaron, Kraken Brand VP. “Ty is in a roster of pretty incredible artists, and we absolutely plan on continuing our partnership with him.”

Collaborations, like that between the Seattle Kraken and Tulalip’s own Ty Juvinel, are not just about creating beautiful visuals, which they absolutely do, but they are also about celebrating the shared passion that unites fans and artists alike. It’s an amazing fusion that unites love for the game with the power of artistic expression that can capture an entire culture.

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.