Wrestling icon reveals championship insight to youth wrestlers

Giving up is easy. Making decisions to overcome and choosing actions that will get you to where you want to be is what makes champions.”

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Seventeen local youth with aspirations to become wrestling champions someday were surprised by a special guest appearance from professional wrestling icon, Ken Shamrock, on Friday, April 23.

“It’s not too often a guy like this walks in the room when you’re in the middle of practice, so it’s exciting to say the least,” expressed coach Tony Hatch. “To be honest, I’m star struck to have a legend of his caliber here with us. Shamrock is one of the pioneers of Ultimate Fighting Champions, he’s a Hall of Famer, and we’re really lucky to have him in the area to share his insight with our kids.”

The former WWF Intercontinental Champion and one-time UFC Superfight Champion shared his experience growing up with a rough childhood and being known as troubled teenager before ultimately turning his life around for the better. The still sweaty from conditioning youth had their attention captivated as the icon detailed how at just thirteen-years-old, his future did not look bright. 

Ken had grown up fatherless in a poor neighborhood in Georgia, where he learned life’s lessons on the streets. While his mother worked to put food on the table, he cruised the neighborhood with his friends, causing trouble wherever they could. The first time he ran away from home, he was only ten. He found refuge in an abandoned car with other delinquents, but wound up in the hospital after getting stabbed by another child. In the years that followed, he would be ousted from seven group homes and serve time in Juvenile Hall. 

Although the strong-willed youth only weighed 125 pounds, Ken had his own way of looking at the world, and he was always ready to protect his pride with his fists. Showing no signs of rehabilitation, the State grew weary of him. He was given one last chance to turn his life around: he would go to a group home, the Shamrock Ranch, run by Bob Shamrock, a man renowned for working with misguided youths. 

Bob had raised more than six hundred boys in his home, and his methods were both unique and effective. In response to the feuds that often arose with prideful boys sleeping under the same roof, he offered them an unorthodox method of resolution. If both parties were willing, he allowed them to throw on boxing gloves and duke it out in the backyard. It did not take long before Ken was the house champion in both boxing and wrestling. 

Recognizing the boy had tremendous athletic ability, Bob redirected Ken’s anger into sports. He got him on a weight-lifting program and registered him in wrestling and football. Along with becoming a leader for the other boys in the group home, Ken also became the son Bob Shamrock never had. Shortly after Ken turned eighteen, Bob legally adopted him, which is the origin story to how Shamrock got his now famous moniker. 

“Your coaches have shared with me that some of you can relate to aspects of my upbringing,” said Shamrock after detailing his childhood to the attentive teenage wrestlers. “For those who can relate, I stand here as a testament of what’s possible despite growing up under such challenging conditions. For those who can’t relate, I promise each and every one of you are going to go through some kind of adversity in your life, whether it’s in high school or as an adult, that will test you to the core. And in those moments, only you can make a decision to do something about it, to choose a means of action to overcome the challenge, or to give up.

“Giving up is easy. Making decisions to overcome and choosing actions that will get you to where you want to be is what makes champions,” continued the legendary mixed martial artist. “You can start right now, at your age, and make the decision on what it is you want to do and start following a path of hard work and commitment that will get you there. Hard work goes beyond the wrestling mat; it’s at home with how you nourish your body and manage your family relationships, it’s in the classroom with embracing your education, and it’s in your commitment to being your best self even on the hard days.”

Following his heartfelt words of encouragement, Shamrock sat down with 15-year-old Tulalip wrestler, Milo Jones for a one-on-one session. They discussed chasing dreams, the importance of staying properly hydrated and eating the right foods for maximum physical performance, and weight lifting techniques used by the pros.

Millions of fans worldwide have not forgotten all Shamrock has contributed to the sport of MMA and WWF over the years. Whether it be choking competitors out in the octagon, slamming his opponents in the rings of professional wrestling, or entertaining the masses in mainstream movies and books, Shamrock has always embodied the essence of what it means to be a Hall of Famer. His legendary reputation only grows after taking time out of his busy schedule to inspire the next generation.

Elevate your game with strength and conditioning

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“I think it’s important to stay fit and healthy,” expressed young Tribal member Kyla Fryberg. “I play a lot of sports and I don’t want to get super tired in games or practices. I’d like to see more people get up, come out and do this with us instead of staying inside because I know quarantine has been a lot on everybody. I think it would be nice to see more kids.”

Glimpses of normalcy can be spotted every now and again in a world post the global COVID-19 pandemic. As restrictions are lifted, vaccines administered and the outside world continues to open back-up, people are re-engaging and re-igniting their love for activities that were either limited or altogether banned to stop the spread of the disease. 

Throughout the pandemic, the Tulalip Youth and Family Enrichment program has remained a space for Tulalip youth to experience some of that normalcy by continuing to provide services, host gatherings, and offer all sorts of fun for in a safe, responsible manner. As school districts turned to Zoom to offer teachings and instruction to their kids, the Youth and Family Enrichment department converted their entire campus into a socially-distant learning environment, where students could work online and complete assignments in their own safe-spaces. 

Now that schools are back to teaching in-person lessons and many youth sports have fully-resumed, Youth and Family Enrichment are slowly rolling out some of their activities and events that were popular amongst the public, pre-coronavirus, as well as debuting many new ideas. 

The Youth and Family Enrichment department recently began a new activity-program called Strength and Conditioning, to help build endurance as well as promote health and fitness to kids who spent the majority of 2020 indoors and more-than-likely in front of a screen.

Youth and Family Enrichment Manager Josh Fryberg explained, “We’re doing basketball conditioning every Tuesday and Thursday from 3:30 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Right now, it’s open to 6th – 12th grade. Eventually, we want to do family nights to encourage the families to come workout together and be as healthy as we can. Conditioning, overall, is something all of us need and something that all of us should practice on a regular basis, so we can have nice long healthy lives.”

 With good early 2000’s hip-hop blasting in the background, a group of five showed up to the Greg Williams Court on April 27, for the tip-off, so-to-speak, of the new Strength and Conditioning program. With a shared goal of fine-tuning their game in anticipation of summertime tournaments, the group was locked and zoned-in throughout the hour-and-a-half class, sprinting the full-length of the court multiple times and hustling their tail-ends off during drills. 

“A lot of things we’re doing right now are fundamentals for lay-ups, left-hand and right-hand dribbling, we’re also working on spin-moves as well as doing a lot of cardio and shooting on our shooting machine,” said Josh. “I usually have them go about three to five minutes in each area. We’ll also stretch, drink a lot of water and work on breathing techniques, in through the nostrils and out through the mouth, so you get the maximum amount of oxygen.”

 Basketball is an important aspect in many Native cultures as countless bonds have been made through the sport, by way of both local rez-ball pick-up games and inter-tribal tourneys. Reservation-based high school basketball games are popular community events where friends and families ban together to support their tribal teens as they showcase their on-the-court skills and love for the game. 

With only five participants at the first session, Josh led a fun and fast-paced class that had the feeling of a summertime basketball camp, like the ones often hosted by former NBA all-stars and local hardwood legends. It’s easy to envision, in the near-future, the Greg Williams Court jam-packed with youngins working hard to elevate their game. 

“Basically, what we did today was strength and conditioning and we were working on running,” said Lillyannah Fryberg. “It was like basketball training, getting us in shape for tourneys and really, it’s just better for our overall health in general.”

Added Kyla and Lillyannah’s sister, Julianna ‘Julie’ Fryberg, “It’s my dad so he goes extra hard on us. He makes us do a lot of exercises that he knows we can handle, just pushing our limits to see how far we can go. It’s really nice to see him help other kids too, other than his own. It would be nice for more people to come though, we had five people today, and we definitely want to see a bigger group. We are working on a bunch of drills; spin-moves, lay-ups, free-throws, three-pointers and running to build our conditioning. So, come on out, it’s fun and I can’t wait to see everybody next time.” 

Josh explained that there is a-whole-nother aspect of the basketball skills and stamina building program, aside from improving one’s basketball IQ and skillset, and that is diabetes prevention and the promotion of healthy lifestyles. And thanks to a strong relationship with the Tulalip Diabetes Care and Prevention Program, the Youth and Family Enrichment team received two basketball shooting machines that automatically rebounds your shot and feeds you the rock at different locations on the court.  

“A big thing that we face in Indian Country is diabetes,” he stated. “With these shooting machines, that were donated by our Diabetes program from Roni Leahy and Dale Jones, the goal is to get as many shots for diabetes as you can. So, that’s one of the things we’re doing with this program as well, prevention work for us to be as healthy as we can.”

Josh assures that this is just the beginning, stating that the Youth and Family Enrichment program is planning more activities, events and programs extending into the Summer and Fall months. And after helping establish both a little league division and a football program, the department is now in the early-planning process of bringing yet another new sporting league to the community. 

Josh shared, “One thing we’re currently working on is starting up a Tulalip AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] program. We want to start with three divisions and work our way up, for all of our players and volunteer coaches to participate in. That way we can really bring our youth in and get them to that next level of competition, so that we can get more of our athletes into college and the recognition that they deserve.”

The Strength and Conditioning course takes place from 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday at the Greg Williams Court. For more information, please contact the Tulalip Youth and Family Enrichment program at (360) 716-4909. 

Collin Hood shares how snowboarding helped him reconnect with cultural lifeways and recover from tragedy

The Fresh Powder Feels

By Kalvin Valdillez; Photos courtesy of Collin Hood 

As the original caretakers and citizenry of this local territory, the sduhubš people have an everlasting connection to the land, stretching from the Salish Sea to the mountainous regions. Thriving from the fish, deer, elk and berries, the tribe lived off the mountain’s plentiful resources year-round since time immemorial. Some tribal members would say that simply being high up in the mountains today, in their ancestral homeland, provides peace to their soul, a sense of spiritual solace that can be likened to what many experience when reflecting and pondering life near the ocean – a rejuvenated perspective on life itself. In fact, the Tulalip Tribes organized the annual summertime Tulalip Youth Mountain Camp, a week-long outing to the Skykomish mountains, just so their young membership can experience that connection to the land, the resources and their ancestors. 

Approximately eight years ago, the tribe debuted a similar idea where their youth could engage in outdoor fun while exploring areas their great-great-great relatives once roamed. This idea, however, occurred in the wintertime and was a tad bit more extreme. By participating in the First Nations Snowboarding Team of Tulalip at a young age, Collin Hood, a local 25-year-old tribal fisherman, discovered not only a passion and a newfound community, but also a connection to his cultural and spiritual lifeways. And perhaps most importantly, a form of medicine and healing that only being on a board and shredding through fresh powder can provide. 

Tulalip News: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Why don’t we begin with your background, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Collin Hood, I’m a Tulalip tribal member. My dad is Alonzo Hood and his mom is Rachel Moses. My family has always been super connected with the mountains. We have property in Darrington and back when all the boarding schools were going on, my great-great-grandma Mariah Moses took the family up there to the mountains. I’ve always felt like it’s so easy to get up to the mountains in the springtime and in the summertime, but when winter hit, I never felt like I was able to get up there as often as I’d like to, to really get the chance to be with the trees, the water, the fresh air. 

When did you first get into snowboarding?

I started snowboarding when I was young. I got introduced to it when I was doing the Tulalip snowboarding team that they had back in the day. The tribe had a team basically for us youth to connect with each other and the mountains, and just improve ourselves. But one of my buddies passed away while snowboarding and I hadn’t been up there since. It took a while for me to get back on the mountains. Last year, I got back into it; it felt so good. Snowboarding has so many challenges that you have to overcome and I feel like you’re able to bring those teachings from snowboarding back into your everyday life. 

Any examples come to mind where lessons learned on the slopes can be applied to real-life situations?

Falling down and getting back up – that’s one of the biggest ones honestly. Falling down when snowboarding, when you see everyone around you succeeding and doing so good, you want to be like them you want to be able to do all these cool tricks and get a sponsorship, but you keep falling. You just feel like, ‘ugh, I’m never going to get good and I want to give up.’ But you keep going no matter what because you have that love and drive for it. I feel like you can bring that into your daily life. When you feel like life is kicking you and you keep falling down, you got to keep your head up. Especially after this past year of 2020.

When did you know that snowboarding was the sport you wanted to practice and dedicate your time to?

I knew I wanted to stick to this and keep practicing when I first felt that sense of accomplishment. I didn’t feel like I had to be the best right away, just knowing that I was making progress was all that really mattered.

How has your skill-level advanced over the years since you first strapped-up to a board?

No one has talked to me about a sponsorship just yet, it’s something that I want to keep progressing toward. I’ve been practicing my 360’s, getting my back ones down, and I’ve also been trying to do back flips this year. The tricks are cool. I love doing tricks, but hitting the steep lines, the ones where you’re looking straight down and it’s like ‘alright, there’s no room for mistakes here’, that’s something that I’ve been really pushing myself towards lately. Those deep uncomfortable moments. 

There’s a quote that I like that talks about living outside your comfort zone. I’ve been trying to do that a lot lately because I feel like life’s going to be a lot better for me if I keep doing that. My skill-level has progressed a lot over this past year. I definitely wasn’t comfortable enough to hit some of the steep lines. I have another family member, Greg Moses, he’s an awesome snowboarder he used to do the snowboarding team with me back in the day as well. He’s been really helping me, pushing me to excel outside of my comfort zone. 

As a Tribal member, what does it feel like to be up in the mountains, admiring that scenery in the natural world that your ancestors and people took care of and thrived off of since the beginning of time?

It’s a feeling that is super hard to explain. You’re worry-free, you’re in your own zone. You feel like you’re floating on air, you’re literally flying through the trees. I have a ritual every single time I go up there. I like to pray and spread a little tobacco out before I hit the slopes. It’s important to me because I want to give thanks for everything that is given to me and for everything that is around me, with the fresh air from the trees and the snow that keeps falling, which will melt and return to the ocean to help the salmon return. 

When I come back from snowboarding, my whole spirit is refreshed. When I’m up there, I feel like all my worries and fears disappear. I feel a lot closer to my relatives and friends who I’ve lost as well. 

Are there any areas of your life where snowboarding has helped you through difficult times?

Charlie Cortez was one of my friends who passed away. It was really hard on me this year. The mountains were one of his favorite places to be as well. This whole winter time, I kept thinking how can I feel closer to him? Being on the water has been so hard for me. The mountains have been my getaway and my way to feel closer to him and everyone I’ve lost this past year. The fresh powder feels, man, it feels like nothing else. 

Is there a certain vibe you have to set while you’re up there? Any specific music you need to listen to, any gear that you need to wear? 

Yeah, I do like listening to music while I’m up there. Mostly reggae and rock, keeping the vibes flowing, stuff that makes you feel alive. 

I would say don’t go cheap on gear. You want high quality gear to keep you warm and your vision clear. Your whole experience will be that much better.

Do you have a favorite spot you like to go to?

[Mt.] Baker is definitely my home run. I usually don’t like to tell people that only because Baker is super low-key. It’s definitely so much fun, even if you’re not the best snowboarder, just to be up there having a good time, enjoying the vibes and energy the mountains brings. 

Where do you see snowboarding taking you in your future?

I see it taking me around the world. I plan on making more videos and traveling to different mountains, hitting steeper slopes and doing cooler tricks. I see it taking me pretty far and I love that because it’s during the off-season of fishing. I get to go fishing and once fishing’s done, it’s snowboarding season baby! I feel like I’m living the dream, hunting, fishing and snowboarding; enjoying all the seasons.

Any advice on how to get started and involved in snowboarding for young tribal members?

If you’re interested in the sport, try it out. Ask your parents to help you get involved, reach out to anybody in the community who can help you learn. There’s a lot of people. There’s an entire snowboarding community within the tribe who are willing to help teach people, teach kids. I know it might be a little scary at first, but if you stick with it, you’re going to have fun and it’s something that you’re going to love for the rest of your life.

Where can people check out your work and find out more about snowboarding? 

I have a YouTube channel, just under Collin Hood. I only have two videos right now. I’m just getting started and involved in making videos, so I’m super excited about it and can’t wait to make more videos. 

From inspiration to artistic reimagining, Seahawks logo embraced in Coast Salish territory

This indigenouscreated transformation mask is what inspired the Seattle Seahawks logo.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Tampa Bay’s football team is heading to the Super Bowl. And with their participation in what is typically the most watched American television broadcast of the year, an estimated 115 million households will tune in February 7th to see a squad of Buccaneers compete against the Kansas City Chiefs. Not any specific Chief mind you, like say one representing any of Native America’s 574 federally recognized tribes. More like the stereotypical kind of Chiefs that a certain segment of American culture just won’t let go of. 

However, instead of lambasting yet another professional sports team’s name and mascot for clearly misrepresenting Native culture, let’s instead focus on our local football franchise. The Seattle Seahawks; a team that has been embraced by Coast Salish culture and whose logo is directly inspired from an Indigenous masterpiece.

In case you weren’t aware already, there is no such thing as a seahawk. Ornithology experts, people who study birds, 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 our area we normally call a seagull. So if there isn’t an actual ‘seahawk’ found in nature, then where did the inspiration for the Seattle Seahawks’ logo come from?

The general 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) transformation mask from northeastern Vancouver Island. 

Exquisitely hand carved in the finest local wood, it’s easy to imagine the team of contracted designers becoming infatuated with the ceremonial mask depicting a mighty eagle with bold black and red formline accents unique to the traditional Coast Salish region. In its closed form, the eagle appears to be in motion with its wings spread, as if it’s ready to soar. 

According to curators at Seattle’s Burke Museum, long before the Seahawks took the field at the old Kingdome, this hand-carved mask played an important role among the Kwakwaka’wakw people. Transformation masks represented rights owned by individual leaders, often depicting family origin stories or an ancestor’s super-natural encounters. When this mask is danced in ceremony, a pivotal moment in the song calls for the mask to be opened, revealing a stunning human face inside.

Carved in the late 19th century, the mask was purchased by the Fred Harvey Company before 1910 and later came into the collection of Max Ernst. Ernst, Picasso, and other Surrealist artists were fascinated by the aesthetic power of Northwest Coast masks, which they saw as direct expressions of human instinct and unconscious thought. After Ernst’s death in 1976, the mask was acquired by a private collector. Eventually the privately held art collection came to be displayed publically, but always in its open position…meaning its likeness to the Seahawks logo was hidden from view. 

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

While the details behind the origin story of the Seahawks’ logo remained a mystery for decades, what has always been transparent and secure is a positive celebration by local Coast Salish tribes. All along the Salish Sea, tribal people have embraced the Seahawks logo and re-appropriated it into our culture.

Dion Joseph (Tulalip) has remixed the Seahawks logo, giving it a more prominent Coast Salish design

“Great things inspire imitations. In the same way that so many Native people and white people and Asians areinspired by hip-hop, an artform created by black people, many people are inspired by our beautiful art,” wrote attorney and Seattle resident, Gyasi Ross (Blackfeet). “Native people have some beautiful artwork, and 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 Redskins mascot, the Seahawks have a great relationship with the Native community here, both urban and Reservation-based.”

Their commitment to Native communities is what 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. The Seahawks have a history of making significant impact to the Tulalip Tribes in particular.

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

“It was great to meet Nate,” said Coach Pete Carroll to the Seattle Times. “We’ve communicated a little bit, and we’ve been connected to the whole Marysville-Pilchuck school and the kids. He was really excited to be [on the field]. His mom was there too, so it was really special to have them. I’m sure he had a big day.”

Then in June 2019, Seattle Seahawks legend Michael Bennett hosted a once-in-a-lifetime football camp for Tulalip community youth. Nearly 250 participants from ages 7-18 had an opportunity to catch a pass from and do drills with the Super Bowl champion. Afterwards, Bennett stuck around to sign autographs and take photos with every single one of his adoring fans. Most recently, in October 2019, former Seahawks Cooper Helfet and Jermaine Kearse landed a seaplane right here in Tulalip Bay before spending an afternoon with thirty Tulalip youth. 

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 Seahawk respect and appreciation for local tribes and the proud Native fandom they’ve received in return continues to manifest itself in truly imaginative ways.

For starters, its common place to see the Seahawks’ logo reimagined via Coast Salish designs in all possible mediums. Authentically produced by Native artisans, they’ve created blankets, clothing, beaded jewelry, eye-capturing medallions, wooden panels, furniture, flags, face masks, and even 6-foot tall, chainsaw carvings that celebrate the Seahawks’ Native roots. These items and more can routinely be found at powwows, all-Native basketball tournaments, and other Native vendor-friendly events around the region.

Josh Fryberg (Tulalip) fitted with all Seahawks everything, including a beaded Medallion and face covering.

“The Seahawks have given back to our community in so many ways and really made a difference in the lives of our youth,” said lifelong fan and tribal member Josh Fryberg. His family of eight have a tradition once a year to get new Seahawks jerseys so they’re always repping their favorite player. “I’ve been fortunate to experience most of their events held in Tulalip and witnessed firsthand our youth just light up being able to hang out with and throw around a football with their football heroes. It’s encouraging for a lot of young athletes to know it’s possible to become a professional athlete or future Seahawk through hard work and dedication. 

“As for the connection between the Seahawks and Coast Salish art, the roots definitely run deep,” he continued. “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 thought, 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.”

So yeah, the Seattle Seahawks aren’t playing in this year’s Super Bowl. Yet, in the hearts and minds of thousands of Coast Salish tribal members, the Seahawks will always be champions. Not because of a Vince Lombardi Trophy, but because our football team respects their local Native communities off the field. Where it matters most.

Tulalip’s own RaeQuan Battle intends to take his game to the next level for revamped Huskies

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Tulalip tribal member RaeQuan Battle has been getting buckets since the moment he was able to shoot a basketball. From his early days spent endlessly shooting in the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club gymnasium to his more formative years at Marysville Pilchuck High School, where he led the Tomahawks to back-to-back State tournaments, RaeQuan’s talents on the hardwood have always been astonishing.

Last year, during his freshman season at the prestigious University of Washington, RaeQuan showed his shooting touch was made for the collegiate level. Averaging a shade over 11 minutes per game, he scored double-digit points five times, connected on twenty-two 3-pointers, and saw action in twenty games for the Huskies. 

Now in his second year, the Tulalip phenom is determined to take his game to an even higher level. A sentiment echoed by his head coach during the offseason.

“The thing that makes him great is, he’s got what great players have, which is ultimate confidence,” Huskies head coach Mike Hopkins told The News Tribune. “I believe that he thinks if he took a half-court shot, it’s going in…I wish I had that as a player.

“At the end of the day, he had some incredible moments as a freshman,” Hopkins continued. “His ability to shoot the ball and he’s got a quick release. The one thing that people don’t know about RaeQuan, [he] can fly. Like he can really jump. His future is on a different level. His potential is just limitless.”

Limitless potential. That’s very high praise from any coach, especially one running a D-1 collegiate program. To his credit, the 19-year-old RaeQuan fully understands that in order to reach his full potential he has to continue training his body for the strength and conditioning necessary to compete on both sides of the court, while continuing to look for ways to improve his all-around game.

“I’m focused on improving my ball handling and my defense. Once I’ve added those to my game, to go with my shooting and athletic abilities, I could do whatever I want on the basketball court,” said the sophomore sharpshooter. “Hitting the gym for a variety of workouts to help me get stronger is a priority, too. I know putting in the work will make me better.”

All his dedication to improving his game in the offseason was on full display in the Huskies season opener versus the #2 ranked team in the country, Baylor, on November 29. Coming off the bench, the 6’5 shooting guard led his team in scoring and minutes played. Never one to shy away from an open 3-pointer, he went 2-8 from downtown while also displaying his court vision for three assists. 

Outside of his athletic prowess on the court, RaeQuan has accepted the mantle as cultural ambassador for his Native culture. Something many his age typically shy away from.

“I do consider myself an ambassador for the Tulalip Reservation,” he explained. Even on the Seattle campus with thousands of students, he stands out for his towering frame and eagerly describes his proud Tulalip culture to anyone curious enough to ask. “Whenever my name gets said, I want people to think of Tulalip, and for everyone back home to know I’m proud of where we come from.”

Quite literally wearing his culture on his sleeves, RaeQuan has a number of tattoos honoring his tribe. ‘Respect the past, Create the future’, accented by eagle feathers, is on the inside of his left arm. However, it’s the large Lushootseed print on both forearms that stand out most. One arm reads ‘dxʷlilap’ (Lushootseed spelling of Tulalip) and the other ‘səswix̌ab’ (Lushootseed spelling of his mom, Jacquie Battle’s Indian name).

“I wear number 21 for my mom,” said the Marysville Pilchuck alum. “She wore it in high school. My mom worked her butt off to provide for me and my siblings. She’s always done whatever is necessary for us, and I want to repay her by being the best man that I can be.”

With his playing time expected to increase this season and his offensive role sure to expand as well, the future remains bright for Tulalip’s latest sports icon. With the ultimate hoops dream to play in the NBA, RaeQuan remains dedicated to all the youth who adore him as their hero.

“It means a lot knowing [Tulalip youth] look up to me because I’m proud to be a role model to them and show them what’s possible,” he shared. “I still love visiting the Boys & Girls Club and the Teen Center on the reservation because it brings back a lot of memories, and it shows all the kids that I haven’t forgot about them. After all, they are my number one fans.”

Lady Hawks rally late for emphatic Tri-District victory

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Coming off a stellar 2nd place finish at the Northwest 1B District tournament, the Heritage Lady Hawks (13-8) were riding a wave of success. They had won 6 of their past 7 and gotten hot at the perfect time late in the season. 

Because of their recent success and high finish at Districts they were rewarded with a 1st round home game to open the Tri-District tournament. They played the Mustangs of Rainier Christian (5-15) on Saturday, February 15.

The first half was flat out ugly for the home team Lady Hawks. They were sloppy with their passes and not executing their offense anywhere close to what’s been expected. The defense wasn’t much better, allowing the Mustangs to get easy looks close to the basket.

At halftime, Tulalip trailed 19-31.

In the 2nd half, the girls flipped a switch and all of a sudden it was the winning style Lady Hawk basketball being played. The guards were making crisp, on-point passes to forwards Jacynta Myles and Krislyn Parks who were bulldozing their way over the much smaller Mustang players. 

Defensively, the team was locked-in. They contested every shot, kept their hands active to force turnovers, and battled for every rebound. Down 12 at halftime, Tulalip quickly bounced back in the 3rd quarter to tie the game at 39-39.

In the decisive 4th quarter, Tulalip kept going to the well and getting the ball to their forwards who were taking full advantage of their overpowering presence. In fact, at one point in the 2nd half, Jacynta and Krislyn combined to shoot an impressive 16/21 from the field. That hot shooting combined with the team’s lockdown defense forcing the Mustangs to shoot contested, off-balance shots meant victory for the Lady Hawks.

The start may have been ugly, but the finish more than made up for it enroute to an emphatic 57-45 home win. 

“We were not playing well at all in the 1st half,” said sophomore standout Jacynta following the comeback. “Personally, I had to change my energy and play more aggressive because we deserved a win. Once we got going in the 2nd half, the whole team’s energy changed and we knew we had the W.”

“Our coaches emphasized to us at halftime that we needed to play our game and quit trying to adjust to our opponent’s defense,” added co-captain Krislyn. “We needed to get the ball inside, pound them with post play, and quit settling for 3-point shots. We wanted to be a cleanup crew by grabbing every rebound and getting putback baskets.”

A 1st round Tri-District win is good all on its own, but making it even more special was it came on Krislyn’s 17th birthday, which was celebrated after the game by the group of delighted hoopers.

“Two years ago we played a 1st round game, loser-out, on my birthday and we lost,” shared the newly minted 17-year-old. “So this was redemption for myself being a much better player and being able to do more to help the team win.”

The Lady Hawks hit the road for a crucial matchup with rival Lummi at Mt. Vernon Christian High School. They’ll play a late game on Thursday, February 20. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:45pm.

Hawks season comes to abrupt end at Tri-Districts

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

A season filled with much excitement and anticipation came to an abrupt end over the weekend, as the Tulalip Heritage boys basketball team (13-7) hosted Tacoma Baptist (16-7) in a 1st round matchup of the 1B Tri-District tournament.

The loser-out game was played on Saturday, February 15 at Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium. The stakes were simple, win and be guaranteed two more Tri-District games or lose and be finished. 

Adoring fans filled the gym’s bleacher sitting prior to the game’s opening tip-off. 

Early in the game Tacoma Baptist was dictating tempo and shooting a high percentage of 3-point shots against the Hawks’ defense. Making matters worse, the Tulalip boys were struggling to find their rhythm offensively.

At the end of the 1st quarter, the home team trailed 7-21. That deficit grew to 18-35 at halftime. 

During the intermission, Tulalip coaches emphasized to their players to not scoreboard watch, but instead simply play their game: High energy on both ends and leave nothing for later because there might not be a later. 

In the 2nd half, trailing by 17 points, the boys kept their heads held high and came out determined to make a game of it. They came out hustling on defense, going all out to force turnovers, while routinely diving on the floor for loose balls. On offense, they finally found a rhythm and made a point of attacking the basket.

Leading the comeback charge was junior forward Alonzo Jones. He connected on five straight shots at one point, capitalizing on the steals his fellow backcourt players were coming up with. The crowd was fully engaged and back into it, cheering madly for their squad to come up with a miracle comeback. 

The Hawks trimmed the Tacoma Baptist lead from 17 points all the way down to just 4, when they trailed 56-60 with just over a minute remaining in the 4th quarter. Forced to foul to preserve precious seconds of game play, they boys hoped their opponent would miss critical free-throws. Instead, Tacoma Baptist clutch free-throw shooting iced the game. 

Tulalip lost 59-67. Alonzo led his team with 25 points and 18 rebounds. Senior guard Leno Velo added 16 points and 3 steals in his final high school game. 

Heritage finished the season with a (13-8) record overall and, most impressively, continued the school’s streak of eight consecutive years making it to at least the Tri-District phase of postseason play.

Hawks bounce back at Districts with 3rd place finish

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The Tulalip Heritage Hawks boys basketball team entered the Northwest 1B district playoffs as a #3 seed and as such had to play on the road on February 6 versus the #2 seeded Cedar Park Christian. These two teams matched up twice in the regular season, with both teams winning on the other’s home court. 

A 3rd matchup made for a highly entertaining game. It was a back and forth affair with both teams determined to execute game plans. Heritage wanted to push the tempo and run at every opportunity, while Cedar Park wanted to be more methodical and slow the game down. Cedar Park’s strategy won out on this day because Tulalip’s shooting went cold in the game’s final minutes and resulted in a 57-65 loss.

“Looking back, we played too conservative and that’s what cost us,” explained Coach Cyrus ‘Bubba’ Fryberg. “The style that best suits us is playing fast, fast, and more fast. That’s what our focus has to be.”

In a 2nd round matchup with Lopez, Tulalip lived up to the coach’s expectation of playing fast. From the opening seconds they came out firing on all cylinders. The defense was forcing turnovers and making everything difficult for Lopez shooters, while the Hawks offense caught fire from field. A double-digit halftime lead continued to grow in the 2nd half. Lopez was unable to limit the Hawks’ high flying attack and the boys went on to make quick work of their opponent, 75-51.

Tulalip matched up with Mount Vernon Christian on February 11 in a battle for 3rd place at Districts. The atmosphere was heated as the gym was at maximum capacity with fans cheering loudly for both teams. 

The Hawks aggressive style was on full display from the game’s opening tip. The boys took a 19-4 lead by coming up with one steal after another and converting those into transition buckets. Their opponent refused to go down quietly however, as the Hurricanes adjusted and took advantage of their size and mismatches down low. The Hawks lead was trimmed to just four points, 29-25 at halftime.

In the 2nd half, the Hurricanes continue to play to their strength and cut the Hawks lead to just a single point, 33-32. Tulalip felt the pressure and used it to bounce back with an amazing 20-4 scoring run. They were once again feasting on forced turnovers and everyone was getting quality looks at the basket. Their relentless attack of the basket eventually wore down the Hurricanes. Now leading 53-36, the Hawks could coast to victory.

Heritage won out 65-49 to claim 3rd place at Districts. They were led by a trio of eye popping stat lines, including Alonzo Jones’ 16 points – 9 rebounds – 5 steals, Leno Vela’s 15 points – 5 assist – 8 steals, and Josh Miranda’s 13 points – 8 rebounds. 

What’s not visible in the box score is the high energy and contagious competitive spirt role players Daron Fryberg and Tarel Gonzales brought from beginning to end.

“They bring so much energy to our team and by giving them more playing time their aggressiveness is infectious…it ignites the rest of our team,” said Coach Bubba after the 3rd place showing. “We’ll look to continue playing our style of play at Tri-Districts, taking good shots, and playing an aggressive defense. I like our chances vs. anybody.”

The 1B Tri-District tournament begins this weekend. The Hawks will host their opening round matchup. Opponent is to be determined, but game time will be 1:30pm on Saturday, February 15.

Lady Hawks late season surge results in Top 2 showing at Districts

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News  

Just three short weeks ago, the Tulalip Heritage Lady Hawks basketball team had a (7-7) record and were looking to solidify their identity on the hardwood. The Lady Hawk coaching staff reviewed game footage and box scores to determine what they needed to focus on was defense.

In their seven wins, they held their opponents to a miniscule 31 points per game. But in their seven losses, they were giving up 46 points per game. The game plan was simple then, according to coaches, if the team locked in defensively they gave themselves the best chance to win.

“We decided we are going to control what our opponents do offensively by playing a box-and-1 style defense,” explained head coach Marc Robinson. “By taking away our opponents’ biggest threat and funneling everyone else towards our bigger and more physical interior defenders, we force a style that better suits us. If we play with those defensive principles we are difficult to beat.”

During their next four games vs. Grace Academy, Chief Kitsap, Cedar Park and Shoreline Christian, the Lady Hawks found a renewed sense of purpose and team identity anchored by their defense. The girls won each of those games by holding their opponents to 31 points or less, and rode the momentum of a 4-game winning streak into the Northwest 1B District playoffs. 

Kicking off on February 6, Tulalip earned the right to host a 1st round game at home in Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium. Led by their sophomore center Jacynta Myles dominating on both ends of the court, the Lady Hawks routed Lopez, 46-30. Jacynta scored a game-high 25 points. 

Next up, the girls hit the road to play the District’s #1 seed Grace Academy on February 8. In the regular season the two teams matched up twice and both times Tulalip was victorious. Before the game started it was obvious the Lady Hawks’ confidence was high and their defense was locked-in. They started the game riding their post-advantage by feeding the ball to Jacynta over and over. To her credit, Jacynta responded to her teammates trust by scoring one big bucket after another. 

The defense was impressive yet again as they held the top seeded Grace team to only 34 points, led by senior guard Deachae Jones and junior forward Krislyn Parks’ active hands and physical play. Tulalip game up big with an upset victory, 40-34, over rival Grace Academy to move on and play for the District championship. 

The District title game was held at Mt. Vernon Christian on February 11. The game pitted the Lady Hawks, who were on a 6-game winning streak, against the hosting Hurricanes, who had won eight of their last nine. Fans from both teams turned out and filled the gym with eager onlookers.

In the battle for 1st place, the intensity was turned up to the max. The Lady Hawks scouted their opponent and were determined to limit the Hurricanes best player. Unfortunately, Mt. Vernon had a team full of shooters who were ready to step up. Mt. Vernon’s role players showcased a 3-point touch that Tulalip was unable to shutdown. Meanwhile, Jacynta was seeing routine double-teams and even triple-teams to prevent her from scoring and the rest of her Lady Hawk teammates were having difficulty scoring the ball. 

Tulalip trailed 15-32 at halftime. They battled back early in the 3rd quarter with an 8-3 scoring run, but the Hurricanes continued to pile on with timely 3-pointers. The Lady Hawks daunting defense let them down this game, resulting in a 29-53 loss. Disappointed at the game’s results but still very much aware of the big picture, the Lady Hawks rejoiced in their 2nd place showing at Districts. 

“Throughout these playoffs we’ve really just had fun and enjoyed playing as a team,” shared co-captain Krislyn. “Our defense had been so good lately and our offense will continue to get better. We know we missed a lot of shots vs. this Mt. Vernon Christian team, but credit to them for playing as well as they did. 

“We will recoup and look forward to hosting a Tri-District game. At the end of the day, by finishing #2 here, we are super excited because we placed higher than the boys!”

The 1B Tri-District tournament begins this weekend. The Lady Hawks will host their opening round matchup. Opponent is to be determined, but game time will be 12pm on Saturday, February 15. Be sure to support your local hoopers on their quest for State.

M.P. prevails in berry bowl, the hardwood version

Tomahawk Elson Battle attempts a 3-pointer.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

M.P. vs. Getchell. Tomahawks vs. Chargers. The cross town rivalry lived up to all the hype when the green and gold Chargers (9-6) nearly toppled mighty Marysville-Pilchuck (14-2) on Friday, January 31. 

Many thought M.P. basketball would take a step backwards this year after losing all-state standout RaeQuan Battle to the University of Washington. They were wrong. The red and white Tomahawks have piled up one big win after another on their quest to get back to the State tournament. They were a perfect (10-0) in league play when the upset minded Chargers, led by junior phenom Malakhi Knight, entered the gym.

Three Tulalip tribal members are among the M.P. roster – senior T.J. Severn, Alec Jones and Elson Battle. Unfortunately, T.J. and Alec were unavailable to play in the rivalry game due to injury. 

A ruckus Marysville Pilchuck gymnasium grew louder and louder as the game played out. Tied at halftime, 27-27, the Tomahawks had no answer for Charger’s do-it-all player, Knight. He would finish the game with an impressive 34 points, but his scoring barrage wasn’t enough to outduel an M.P. team full of experienced seniors who are unafraid of the big moments.  The Tomahawks executed their plays in the game’s critical moments and capitalized on their home floor to secure the W, 61-57.