A Tale of two Tulalip hoopers

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The weekend of February 19 was filled with Washington State high school basketballers reveling in the elation of sweet victory or the bitter sting of defeat. For many local programs it was their last opportunity to punch a ticket to the Regional round and earn a potential trip to the highly coveted State playoffs. Two such teams featured Tulalip tribal members and well-known bucket getters.

Both inspirational female ballers. Both high school seniors. Both playing for programs outside Marysville School District. Both hoping to end their high school hoops career with a State run. 

Jacynta Myles anchors the Lummi Nation Blackhawks as their starting center, while Tamiah Joseph comes off the bench to ignite the Archbishop Murphy Wildcats’ second unit. They each played on Saturday, February 19, in raucous gymnasiums located in Mt. Vernon.

First up with a noon tipoff was Lummi Nation vs. Muckleshoot in battle of two tribal schools featuring an ensemble of all-Native talent. Before the game, Muckleshoot coach Dora Brings Yellow said, “We know that it’s going to take a complete team effort to box out #32 [Jacynta]. We have no one close to matching her size or height, so it’s up to the entire team to keep her from living in the paint. As two tribal schools, it’s unfortunate we have to play each other in a knock-out game, but our people travel well. We fully expect to hear both teams’ fans throughout the game.”

The Rez ball battle was dominated by Lummi in the first three quarters. Going into the 4th quarter, Lummi led 30-17. Jacynta was making her presence felt in the post by gobbling up every rebound. She routinely fended off double and triple teams to seemingly grab every available loose ball. 

But as outclassed as Muckleshoot was to that point, they refused to concede the game. Instead, Muckleshoot benched their two starting bigs down the stretch and went with a five guard lineup. This change in strategy allowed for Muckleshoot to run an all-out uptempo offense on every possession, wherein they routinely got to the bucket before the towering Jacynta could shutdown the paint. 

In an incredible turn of events, Lummi squandered their 13-point lead in the final quarter and were forced into overtime. Minus three starters who all fouled out in the 4th, Lummi and their rebounding monster Jacynta just didn’t have enough firepower. Muckleshoot and their adoring fans roared as their 47-41 victory went final, while a contingent of Lummi and Tulalip faithful sat stunned in disbelief. 

The 6-foot-3-inch Jacynta finished her last high school game with an incredible career-high 38 rebounds to go with 12 points, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.

“So many people have asked me this season why I’m playing for a rival and opted to leave Tulalip in order to play for Lummi. My response remained the same every time – I’m Tulalip wherever I go,” shared Jacynta postgame. “I felt playing for Lummi was the best opportunity to reach State, while being able to proudly embrace my Tulalip culture, and in the end we came up just short. I wouldn’t change my decision at all. I never compromised who I was and my Lummi teammates and coaches supported me the entire time.

“Looking to the future, I’m being recruited by colleges to go play volleyball. Some of the college coaches in New York, Maine and Kansas have expressed interest in me playing basketball, too, if I want to go that route,” she added. “What I’ve learned this year more than anything is trying new things, being willing to fail in order to learn how to succeed, is the best confidence builder. I know there’s so much more I can improve upon, but I’m willing to accept the challenge to get better and train with those willing to teach me.”

A mere six-hours after Lummi’s stunning loss, Tamiah Joseph and her Archbishop Wildcats took to the hardwood for a matchup with the Burlington-Edison Tigers. On the line was the NW District 2A Championship and a high seed in the upcoming Regional tournament. 

A 5-foot-9-inch power guard, Tamiah came off the bench to give her team a boost defensively whenever her coach instructed. She guarded the Tigers best perimeter players on multiples occasions and did an admirable job of slowing them down. 

Tied at 13-13 midway through the 2nd quarter, the Wildcats held a slight 2-point advantage at halftime, when they led 17-15. In what would be a season deciding 2nd half, Tamiah provided invaluable energy during her team’s 42-29 outpacing of Burlington down the stretch. While the Archbishop fans cheered from the stands, players and coaches reveled in a 59-44 victory. In traditional fashion, the Wildcat players took turns postgame, one by one climbing a ladder to cut a single strand of nylon from their winning basket. An occasion befitting the NW District 2A Girls Basketball Champions.

“Tamiah’s role all season has been to come off the bench and knock down big shots for us. Clearly, our opponent game planned for her shooting tonight, but she still managed to make an impact on this game with her defense,” said Archbishop head coach Ebany Herd after her team’s Championship performance. “She does a really good job of grabbing offensive rebounds and staying patient on offense, usually being ready to shoot the 3-ball when she has the opportunity.”

“I’ve been friends with Tamiah since our freshman year and I just love her to pieces,” added Archbishop senior and starting point guard Jojo Chiangpradit. “She’s such a good shooter. If she’s open, she’s gonna knock down her jumpers. We’ve always been able to count on her to hit a clutch 3 when it really matters.”

Next up for Tamiah and her Wildcats is a Regional round matchup with W.F. West High School out of Wenatchee on Friday, February 25. Tipoff is set for 8:00pm at Tumwater High School. Regardless of the outcome, Archbishop with their District Championship is guaranteed a State appearance and at least one game in the Yakima Valley SunDome in early March. 

Elders, veterans head to LA for Super Bowl experience

By Micheal Rios; Photos by Malory Simpson

Over 112 million viewers tuned in to watch this year’s Super Bowl clash between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals. Among the sold-out 70,240 person crowd that travelled to L.A. to witness the big game in person was a very lucky group of Tulalip tribal members.

Made possible by a recently announced partnership with DraftKings, Tulalip leadership raffled off exclusive suite tickets to tribal elders and veterans. The lucky benefactors were Maurice “Hammer” Alexander, Rocky Renecker, John Ancheta, Nancy Koehler, Sara Andres and Patricia Balderson. Plus their official escort, events manager Malory Simpson.

“The experience was definitely once in a lifetime!” shared Malory. “We were able to attend some events hosted by DraftKings, one on Saturday night and a tailgate party the day of the Super Bowl game. There was tons of free food and drinks, as well as a concert by Wyclef Jean, which was absolutely amazing. It was great to hear live music after COVID, you know?! 

“The suite was immaculate and filled with lots of food, drinks and hospitality,” she added. “The group of elders and veterans made my job easy. I am so grateful for the time I got to spend with each of them. Big thank you to the Board of Directors for the tickets, to our Travel Department for booking our flights and shuttles, and the CEO staff for thinking of me to escort our elders to Super Bowl LVI.” 

Local artist Walter Moses created a special piece for the occasion that was gifted to the DraftKings representative by the group at the stadium. “I can tell you she was grateful to be gifted such a stunning piece of artwork. She mentioned to us that she’s never been gifted a piece of art from her clients before,” said Malory.

The football event watched around the world featured a thrilling game that went down to the wire, an exciting halftime show starring hip hop legends, and a $5 billion SoFi Stadium venue in Los Angeles that added a uniquely Hollywood flare. For the Tulalips in attendance, memories were made and experiences had that are sure to last a lifetime. 

“I had an amazing time,” shared Tulalip veteran Sara Andres. “I was super happy to be given this once in a lifetime experience and to be able to share it with the others. I am so thankful the Board of Directors offered the tickets to Tulalip elders and veterans. Having been the third alternate called, I didn’t think I would be going. I am very grateful for the winners that gave up their opportunity for me to be able to attend. I will never forget Super Bowl LVI. GO Rams!”

‘New team, same dominance’ for Tulalip’s Jacynta Myles

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

She’s too humble to admit she’s a dominating low post player on the basketball court. Yet anyone who has been following Jacynta Myles’ high school career knows it’s a simple truth. She’s too big, too strong…simply too much to handle one-on-one for any Northwest 1B high school program. And now playing for Lummi Nation, she’s looking to make one last playoff run before her high school days are over.

During her freshman and sophomore years, Jacynta was a foundational player for Tulalip’s Heritage High School. She was a walking double-double even while still adjusting to her still growing, powerful physique. Then the pandemic hit. She managed to still dazzle her opponents with monster stat lines in her junior year while wearing a Heritage Hawks jersey. But going into her senior season, she was forced to make a change. 

A combination of factors, largely due to the ongoing pandemic, led to Heritage sports being temporarily disbanded. The athletes were granted permission to continue playing sports at other high schools. Most chose programs in Marysville, but not Jacynta. The 18-year-old culture bearer refused to play for a non-Native basketball team. So what did she do? Routinely drive herself from Tulalip, all the way up to Lummi, in order to gain eligibility, that’s what.

“I really hoped we could’ve had a basketball season at Heritage for my senior year, but it wasn’t meant to be,” reflected Jacynta. “I love being Native American and representing our culture through sports, especially basketball. Our crowds are always so passionate and really enjoy seeing us play. So when that all got cancelled, my choices were to play for a school that doesn’t really represent us or play for our on-court rival, Lummi. It was a no brainer for me. I chose the culture.”

Long-time rivals, on the court anyway, Lummi Nation hoops welcomed the towering Jacynta with open arms. Sure, there was an adjustment period, more so because the guard heavy BlackHawks weren’t used to playing with a truly talented post player before. However, once both player and team got used to one anther the results spoke for themselves. 

Fueled by Jacynta’s presence in the paint anchoring their defense and her low post dominance on offense, Lummi reeled off one W after another. Coach Krista Mahle explained by adding Jacynta to the team, her guards were able to play a much more up-tempo style. Four wings who can all dribble, pass and shoot typically share the court with Jacynta. 

“Jacynta has been a game changer for us,” said Coach Krista. “She’s been a leader for my girls and helped them develop really develop their games. We’ve been so happy to have a player of her caliber on our team.”

Lummi’s new style of play with Jacynta at the center spot created havoc for their opponent’s coaches. Do they sell out to slow down the biggest girl on the court or focus on the perimeter ball handlers and let Jacynta have her way in the post? Neither strategy worked particularly well.

The BlackHawks dominated the regular season with a league best 7-1 record. After getting a first round bye, they hosted the Darrington Loggers in a second round playoff matchup on February 5th. The game was the first home game all season that Lummi Nation allowed fans in the stands. A decent sized crowd showed up, including a handful of Tulalip families, to cheer on the all-Native BlackHawks team. 

They made quick work of the Loggers who were clearly outmatched in all facets of the game. Jacynta barely broke a sweat while filling the box score. Lummi gave their excited crowd what they came to see, a 54-39 W.

“It’s been a really fun season, especially having teammates who help me be the best post player I can be, which just makes the wins that much sweeter,” said Jacynta post-game. “My teammates and coach have really embraced me. Now, together, we hope to make a deep playoff run. Personally, I’ve never been to State before, so that’s my goal. How amazing would that be to finally make it happen in my senior year?”

Next up for Jacynta and her Lummi BlackHawks is a matchup with Grace Academy on Thursday, February 10, with a 6:00 p.m. tipoff.

Tulalip athletes train like the pros

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

There are many things Tulalip is known for. Depending upon who is asked, the responses may vary widely. However, within Snohomish County coaching circles a common response is raw athleticism.

Indeed, for generations now, Tulalip has churned out athletes who have showcased an uncanny ability to learn and compete in sports at a high level. Whether it be at the beginning stages at the Boys and Girls Club or YMCA, middle school intermediate stage or varsity quality at local high schools, Tulalip is well-represented across the sporting spectrum.

As our proud athletes continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible for a simple Rez kid, like those currently fulfilling their dreams to play collegiate sports, it’s critical for the next generation to receive access to the newest training technology and latest performance-based guidance. 

Analytics and data is quickly becoming the preferred method for evaluating college prospects and professional athletes. In keeping up with the data-driven times, husband/wife duo DeShawn and Sharmane Joseph created a first-of-its-kind partnership to bring cutting-edge athletic assessors Basic Athletic Measurement (BAM) to Tulalip.

“Moving in real-time, many Tribes, educational systems, and business institutions throughout the world are using data and analytics to make informed decisions about any number of things. Why not, then, use data and analytics to assess our children’s athletic needs and abilities? This way we can showcase their talents and give them something real from top level trainers to motivate, inspire, and change their path, one kid at a time,” explained DeShawn. 

The Joseph’s Reservations Without Borders program and BAM hosted a modified skills camp in the friendly confines of the Tulalip Youth Center on Saturday, January 29. The skills being tested? That raw athleticism Tulalip is known for.

Athletic assessment typically relies on stop watches, manual data collection, and non-standardized testing protocols. Due to bias and inconsistency, comparing and benchmarking an athlete’s performance has historically been a subjective measure. BAM has revolutionized the process with remote sensors, motion tracking lasers, and other SmartSpeed tech wizardry. BAM’s staff and methodology have been stamped with approval by the NBA, ADIDAS, Under Armour, EuroCamp, and power 5 college conferences such as the PAC12 and the BIG10.  

“We were invited to come to Tulalip and present our service we offer to athletes around the world,” said BAM founder Brett Brungardt. He has nearly thrity years of experience as a strength and conditioning coach for the Dallas Mavericks and University of Washington basketball teams. “We brought this technology to the NBA fourteen-years-ago and since then its been utilized for twenty-two different sports. Our design assesses each athlete and provides them with a foundation to build from. This way they can workout or train in a manner that they know is making them faster, improving agility, increasing power…basically improving all the components necessary for becoming a better athlete.”

After the preregistered Tulalip athletes showed up at the Youth Center, joined by a few excited day of participants, things quickly got going on the freshly waxed gymnasium hardwood. Brett and his team gave the aspiring sport superstars a quick orientation and immediately got to warm-ups. Everyone hit the lines and participated in a 15-minute group warm-up session to adequately stretch and prepare for the training to come.

The traditional basketball court area had been reconfigured into five testing zones, each with a unique function and it’s own set of challenges. The group of kids were split up into groups and rotated through each zone, being allowed a practice try and then two scored attempts. A nearly identical set up as professional ballplayers at the annual NBA Combine. 

Each testing zone provided a key measurement that when used as a whole can determine a participant’s overall athleticism. The zones were as follows:

  • Vertical Jump. Evaluates the ability to exert a maximal force in as short a time as possible within vertical distance depending upon sport specifics.
  • Sprint. Evaluation to determine acceleration, maximum speed and endurance speed. Sprint time can be performed over varying distances, depending upon sport specifics.
  • Reaction Shuttle. Evaluates the ability to show how quick and effective decisions are made and actions initiated, plus the brief interval of time it takes to react to an external stimulus.
  • Broad Jump. Athlete starts within 15 feet of the Vertec. It is a running start vertical jump. Measurement is similar to the vertical jump, but also includes athlete’s ability to coordinate and incorporate strength and power with reach.
  • Agility. Valuation measures the ability to make quick changes of direction while moving at speed and the ability to move quickly and change directions. 

Every basketball player knows that major bragging rights go to the player with the most hops, and the easiest way to determine that is the though an official vertical jump test. One by one the athletes got into position, buckled their knees for an added boost and then leaped skyward, extending their fingers as far as possible. After the competitive jumping session, the day’s vertical jump crown went to 17-year-old Tommy Nguyen.

 “I knew I could jump high, but not that high! A thirty-seven inch vert is definitely low key bragging rights,” said Tommy to his fellow Marysville-Pilchuck teammates.

During the agility and reaction shuttle drills, it become apparent to the athletes that pure speed and power could be outdone by light, nimble feet and a lightning fast reaction. It was in these events that 13-year-old Mayleah Madera shined brightest.

“My favorite sports are basketball, softball and volleyball. I can’t choose just one, I love them all,” beamed Mayleah after her days testing session. “Today was a lot of fun and different than anything I’d ever done before. The coaches told me that by being light on my feet and continuing to develop better foot work that I’ll be an overall better athlete for all my sports. Also, it was really cool to outscore the boys on some activities.”

New and developing technologies like BAM’s athletic assessment system make it possible to standardize a player’s performance level. Giving them not only an athletic GPS to track their progress, but to recognize areas in need of growth as well. For families who dedicate endless time and financial resources to their child’s dreams, these assessment systems validate a commitment to athletic excellence.

Emphasizing the event’s unique nature, BAM staff made sure the young athletes recognized how special they were by remarking multiple times this was the first group of Native Americans to ever test their athleticism under the BAM system. Something DeShawn and his wife are proud of, as they hope to test thousands of Native kids throughout the country with this latest partnership. 

“They got to witness the beautiful athleticism come out of our kids. The showcasing talent we’ve always seen in our communities came to life today, in front of real professionals who were able to track the data we need to move our kids forward in a good way,” reflected DeShawn after the day’s session concluded. “With this technology, our kids and athletes can gauge themselves and know exactly which parts of their training they need to focus on to improve their overall skills.

“With this BAM partnership we hope to achieve the same outcomes in Indian Country  that the professional institutions are getting from their athletes – the inspirational improvements and the amazing stories,” he continued.  “I’m hoping over a 5-10 year span we can test over 10,000 Native American kids in all of their communities throughout the United States and Canada.”

DeShawn added a special thank you is in order to the Tulalip Board of Directors for believing in his vision for our athletes and the Youth Center for providing an amazing facility and lunches for all the participants.

Gary Payton dropping dimes: The importance of being a mentor, inspiring the next generation, and setting practical goals

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Seattle SuperSonics legend Gary Payton, better known by his nickname “The Glove”, partnered with the Native basketball camp Rise Above in order to put his Hall of Fame talents to good use – impacting thousands of Native youth through basketball. His partnership with Rise Above took him to Colville, Kalispel, Coeur d’Alene and many other reservations throughout the Pacific Northwest. 

One of the truly unforgettable basketball camps Rise Above held was in Tulalip. Back in September 2015, Payton co-hosted a youth skills camp at the Tulalip Youth Center. For all those youth who participated and the adults who volunteered, they quickly realized the camp was about much more than just basketball. It was about using basketball as a means to empower our kids and teach life lessons, while instilling a bit of resiliency in each participant so they could grow into productive members of the community. 

Following that memorable basketball camp, Payton sat down with Tulalip News staff to share what his insights are on how to most effectively impact urban youth. 

You may be wondering what kind of insight a former NBA superstar can have about our Native kids. Well, the answer is simple – Payton’s very familiar with growing up in an impoverish neighborhood, being surrounded by the poverty mindset, witnessing drug use and petty crime being committed by his friends and family…all while having to struggle against a system determined to see him fail. 

Payton grew up and survived the drug-infested streets and gang filled neighborhoods of Oakland, California in the 1980s. Oakland was plagued in the eighties by a continuation of the rising crime rate and drug issues of the previous decade. Crack cocaine exploded as a big problem for the city during this period, and Oakland was regularly listed as one of the U.S. cities most plagued by crime. 

From being born and raised in Oakland to currently following his new life mission to travel to mentor and coach youth in most need of positive role models, Payton has the ability to not just address the issues of most concern to today’s youth, but also offer simple guidance to the adults who want to make our community better.

Gary Payton currently coaches in the BIG3 league, where he continues to offer guidance and support. 
Photo courtesy of BIG3 basketball.

The following conversation may have happened six years ago, however the knowledge and perspective the Seattle hoops icon offered is just as relevant today. Here now, we offer our See-Yaht-Sub readers unique insight from one of the best point guards in NBA history as he endeavors to assist parents, teachers, and guardians to create a better environment for our kids. 

“Growing up in Oakland, California I was in a similar environment to a lot of these kids today, where they have a lot of free time on their own with not much adult supervision. That means you get to be around your friends the majority of the time, and your friends are going to be doing things that you want to be involved in because you want to fit in. Then things start to happen.

As a kid, I had a father who was working all the time, but he used to tell me ‘you got to be your own man, you got to be a leader not a follower.’ If somebody says something or wants to do something that ain’t right, then tell them they ain’t right. If they don’t want to be that person who helps you and says okay I understand, then they aren’t really not your friend. That’s what a lot of these kids are starting to see more and more of because youth of this generation prefer to do anything to not be bored. 

My generation was different because we knew how to go outside and just have fun. Everyone didn’t have a fancy cellphone, iPads, and all the rest of it. Even our cartoons and TV shows were only on during Saturday mornings and a couple hours after we got home from school. Today TV, cellphone apps, and the internet caters to these kids so they can be burying their face in a screen all day, every day. 

I think for these kids today, all they need is a little push. They need someone, like myself, who has been through and seen the same things they have, to come around and give them a talking to and tell them the right way and what not to do. Because once we leave and they get someone they think is a friend who pressures them, it’s hard for them to make the right decision because of the peer pressure and idea it’s better to fit in than stand out.

But when these kids have adults and role models around who are not only looking out for their best interest, but are actually making themselves available by text, phone call, or to meet up to talk, then it becomes easier for them to say no to the bad choices and yes to the good ones. All they need is to have that support behind them, people they know are helping build them up into the best person they can be. But it can’t be only a sometimes thing, it has be an all the time thing because these kids can tell who is fake and who is real.

It’s important for us as mentors, the adults who these kids will listen to and respect, to get the youth to set individual goals. We want them to set goals or to have an ultimate goal for themselves. Most of these kids don’t have goals other than to have fun or good times with their friends, that’s not a goal. We see it all the time where they’ll get just a little bit of satisfaction from what they are doing in school or from actual hard work and then they’ll immediately flip to okay that’s enough now let me go and hangout with my friends. That mindset comes from not having goals to succeed, not having the goal to be someone who the community looks up to.

If they had goals that are bigger than just hanging out with friends or messing around on social media, then they’d be more willing to say no to the little things that get in their way in order to achieve their goals. That’s the biggest problem with youth today. Their so focused on the immediate and what’s right in front of them that they don’t see the larger picture, they don’t have the passion to set long-term goals and follow through. They don’t understand that by focusing in and setting goals today that they are actually investing in their future.

As mentors, advocates, and educators we have to remain vigilant and get these kids to buy into setting goals and following through. It starts with their education because nothing is more important than getting a good education. A good education means opportunity and with opportunity comes the ability to do what you want to do, not just what you have to in order to scrape by. We know that kids today love doing what they want to do, so now it’s on us to get them to see that through education they can be adults doing what they want to do as well. Getting them to set goals in the classroom and with school is where it starts. 

We want them to have goals like, ‘I’m going to get better grades this year than I had last year’, ‘I’m going to make honor roll this semester’, ‘I’m going to graduate with my high school diploma’, and ‘I’m going to go to college’. They seem like no-brainers, but we’ve seen they are too interested in other things and have lost that focus in school and on their education, and I’m going to keep going back to it and say it’s because there’s a lack of goal setting. It’s not good enough to be satisfied with just showing up or only doing enough to get by. We have to want and expect more from them in order to get them to want and expect more from themselves. 

Our mission as mentors is to encourage, and support our youth as they discover who they are and what they want to be. Through goal setting and an emphasis on education as future opportunity for themselves, they’ll be able to become the best person they can be. Once they have that mindset to want better, to be better, everything will start to click and it’s an amazing process to witness. These kids have so much they can accomplish and so many opportunities available to them. When they are empowered to realize they’re capable of reaching their goals and achieving like they never thought before, then this entire community benefits. Let’s do our part to make this happen.”

From walk-on to scholarship recipient, Zues Echevarria latest Tulalip athlete to compete on collegiate level

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Tulalip history is filled with stories of athletic achievement. Ranging from grandiose tales told by elders reminiscing about their glory days, to standout high schoolers showcasing their skills in front of adoring families, to proud parents posting on social media about how amazing their child’s latest bitty ball performance was.

Sports have become as valuable to passing on traditional teachings as any other element of Tulalip culture. Think about it. Passing down knowledge and insight from one generation to the next, check. Learning invaluable lessons about patience, determination and hard work, check. Teaching the importance of mind/body connection with an emphasis on balancing nutritious foods with physical activity, check. Each generation of Tulalip youth being able to connect and participate regardless of family ties, check. An entire community being able to unite and root for the success of an inspiring tribal member, check. 

It should be no surprise then as to why recent success stories of homegrown athletes like Tysen and Bradley Fryberg (Salish Kootenai College basketball), Adiya Jones (Skagit Valley Community College basketball), Collin Montez (Washington State University baseball), RaeQuan Battle (University of Washington basketball), and Mikail Montez (Everett Community College basketball) have spread like wildfire on the Tulalip Reservation. Their stories stretch the imagination of what’s possible for a rez kid with a sports dream, while also giving parents a clear cut example that all the long practices, tournament-filled weekends, and substantial financial investment is worth it. 

Enter 6-foot-2, 290 pound Jesus “Zues” Echevarria Jr. The latest Tulalip athlete to compete on the coveted D1 collegiate level. A former team captain of the 2016 state championship winning Archbishop Murphy, Zues made the bold decision to attend Washington State University the following fall and endeavored to make their football team as a true walk-on. His prowess on the grid iron, focus during film study and tenacity in the training room earned him a spot as a redshirt freshman.

“The key is to be patient because every athlete that goes to the college level learns that you have to start all over. No matter how big of a high school star you were or how many programs were recruiting, once you get to college you have to earn your spot every day and work for every opportunity,” said Zues. “Gotta keep your head down and keep working, knowing that the patience will pay off when given the opportunity. A lot of times it comes down to the simple things like eating the right foods, getting enough sleep so your body can recover, and having the discipline to do the little things every single day knowing that you gotta stay ready for whenever opportunity presents itself.”

Unfortunately, injuries derailed his college career before he had opportunity to shine under the bright lights. He suffered a gruesome leg injury that forced him to miss most of the 2019 season and made it difficult to regain a top position on the depth chart in 2020. Instead, of taking the easy road and quitting on his football dream, the headstrong defenseman shifted his focus on rehabbing his body and conditioning in a way to minimize future injuries.

“Injuries are always gonna be a part of sports, especially at the higher competition levels, and I’ll admit the recovery process is more a mental challenge than anything else, but at no point did I think of giving up,” reflected Zues of his near 15-month recovery and rehab from a devastating leg injury. “I’ve worked way too hard to get to this point. My dream of playing football at the highest level is something I’ve had since being a little guy. My support system of my mom, my grandparents, and my teammates kept me up when I was down. The whole process just fueled me to want to get back on the field even more.”

The determination that fuels him as a defensive tackle combined with the mental strength to preserve over injury, to not give up, and to keep on working at his craft was something his coaches took notice of.

“Even when he was unable to practice with the team because of injury, Zues was coming out of the training room just as sweaty as our players who had gone through a two-and-a-half-hour practice,” explained WSU D-line coach Ricky Logo. “That’s how he showed us his commitment to coming back and getting healthy. When he finally got his chance to step back on the field and see game action, it was like he didn’t miss a beat. That’s what I love about him most. His will to fight through adversity and overcome separates him on and off the field.”

All the countless hours of rehabbing through injury, conditioning to keep his body at peak performance, and film study to ensure when his opportunity presented itself he’d be ready came to fruition on Saturday, October 9. It was WSU’s homecoming game and the stakes couldn’t have been higher as the Cougars hosted the Pac-12 North’s leading team, Oregon State.

On the field pre-game, the now 5th year senior and recent scholarship recipient warmed up with the same tenacity and vigor that his coaches had anxiously been waiting to unleash on their opponents. With a near packed house cheering on their home team at Martin Stadium, Zues got his chance to seize a meaningful role in the Cougar defense. He was on the field for twenty defensive snaps and came up with two crucial solo tackles that were met with a thunderous roar from the WSU faithful. His impactful play helped his team secure a huge 31-24 upset win over a Pac-12 rival. 

In what may have been his most extensive playing time in any game of his collegiate career thus far, his head coach offered praise for the 22-year-old Tulalip tribal member. 

“It’s good to see [success from] young people who have gone through some adversity and worked hard to get something,” said WSU head coach Nick Rolovich postgame. “[Zues] was really productive before getting hurt. He’s a hard worker and attacked rehab the same way, and we knew he was going to add to our defensive-tackle play as he got healthier. If he didn’t get hurt, I think he would have had a big part in all of our games this year.”

Zues intends to climb the depth chart further and become a fulltime defensive stalwart for the Cougars, whether that happens this year or next is of no concern because he understands the process is part of a much larger picture.

When asked if he still dreams of playing in the NFL, Zues responded without hesitation, “Absolutely! That’s my number one dream. Everything I do in practice, film study, and in games is geared towards continuing to get better, developing my skills to dominate on the college level. Then maybe NFL scouts will take notice. That’s the dream anyway.”

In the meantime, the student-athlete understands that he has to prepare for a career outside of football. Zues is close to earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Tenchology that will allow him to continue his family’s longline of tribal artistry in the digital realm. 

Zues’ grandmother, Judy Gobin.

Zues’s grandmother Judy Gobin is his self-described #1 fan. She and her husband Tony make the five-hour drive from Tulalip to Pullman every home game to cheer on their grandson. Their support has proved to be instrumental, as has the support Zues receives from his Tribe in assisting with college related expenses.

“We are so fortunate as Tulalip because our kids have the opportunity to go to any school in the nation and excel,” said Judy at a postgame dinner, where her grandson was approached by random WSU fans applauding him for his efforts. “They can study to become whatever they want knowing our Tribe will pay for the vast majority of costs. We have so many great success stories because of the resources our tribal gaming allows us to access. Yet, so many of our children don’t do it. Stories like Zues show them what’s possible and can incentivize the next generation to take their education seriously. When they see Tulalips succeeding at college it breaks the stereotypes and lets them know they can accomplish great things in academics and sports.”

Because of the pandemic, Zues has gained two extra years of eligibility to play college football. The WSU football program hopes to see him accomplish great things with the extra years and awarded him with a scholarship as a sign of further commitment in his potential. Two extra years is plenty of time for him to become a Cougar legend. To this point, he’s already a Tulalip legend. 

Seattle Mariners celebrate Indigenous People

Tulalip Tribal members attending and supporting the event. Kayla Joseph, Giani Moses, Gia Joseph, Sophia Quimby, Sylvanna Brinson, and Gabe Joseph.

By Shaelyn Hood, Tulalip News

On Monday, September 13, 2021, the Seattle Mariners hosted their 18thannual Native American Heritage Night. The first 5,000 fans received a t-shirt by Chris Duenas that featured the Mariners “S” logo with Coast Salish motifs and the message, “We honor our ancestors”.

Photo by Ben VanHouten, Seattle Mariners. 

 The night started off with a performance by members of the Puyallup tribe with a traditional song, drum, and dance. Throughout the night, fans enjoyed viewing a hand carved, 30-foot tribal canoe and a gallery of 40 works of art by local tribal artists. 

During the game, the Mariners honored Dr. Alan Shelton, a Puyallup tribe medical director, as a Hometown Hero, for advocating health and safety practices during the pandemic. The Mariners recognize members of the Pacific Northwest community at each game for their part in helping others to overcome the pandemic. 

Tulalip tribal members, Danika Hatch, Aurella Hatch, Izzabella Hatch, Francis Hatch, 
Barbara Hatch, Diana Aguilar, and Alex Havel.

If you wish to nominate someone who has stepped up to help others during this time, nominations are accepted through September 30, 2021 at www.mlb.com/mariners/fans/hometown-heroes.

Photo by Ben VanHouten, Seattle Mariners. 

Seahawks logo isn’t just accepted by Coast Salish tribes – it’s beloved

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

There is no such thing as a seahawk. This may come as a surprise to some Seattle football fans who, while tuned into this weekend’s 2021 NFL Kickoff, may be unaware of the origin of their home team’s logo. Some might even assume that, as an appropriated Indigenous design, it falls under the banner of problematic logos, like those of a handful of other sports franchises, such as the Cleveland Indians or the Kansas City Chiefs. 

But unlike those teams, whose logos are founded on stereotypes (as opposed to any specific aspect of one of Native America’s 574 federally recognized tribes) the Seattle Seahawks’ logo is that rarest of birds: a culturally accurate sports icon directly inspired from an Indigenous masterpiece — and embraced by the Indigenous People it is borrowed from.

Tulalip tribal member Josh Fryberg with his beaded Seahawks medallion.

Anatomy of a logo

Ornithology experts theorize the term seahawk refers to a combination of an osprey, which is a bird of prey native to coastal North America, and a skua, which, in the Pacific Northwest, we 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), a transformation mask from northeastern Vancouver Island. 

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 it 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 certain is its 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.

“Great things inspire imitations. In the same way that so many Native people and white people and Asians are inspired by hip-hop, an art form created by Black people, many people are inspired by our beautiful art,” said 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 [Washington] Redskins mascot, the Seahawks have a great relationship with the Native community here, both urban and Reservation-based.”

Tulalip tribal member Dion Joseph with a remixed Seahawks logo shirt. 

A team that uplifts

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-by-50-foot playground at the reservation’s ‘Club.’ In 2014, following a shooting at the Marysville-Pilchuck High School, the Seahawks hosted tribal member Nate Hatch, who was shot and survived, along with his family at CenturyLink Field (now Lumen Field), where they received the VIP treatment from players and coaching staff.

Then in June 2019, Seattle Seahawks legend Michael Bennett hosted a once-in-a-lifetime football camp for Tulalip community youth. Nearly 250 participants ages 7 to 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 in Tulalip Bay before spending an afternoon with 30 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, it’s common to see the Seahawks’ logo reimagined via Coast Salish designs in all possible mediums. Native artisans have reproduced it as blankets, clothing, beaded jewelry, eye-capturing medallions, wooden panels, furniture, flags, face masks and even six-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.

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

The unique partnership between the Seahawks organization and Coast Salish tribes who comprise part of the devout 12th Man fan base takes on a new, awe-inspiring form outside of Lumen Field. Dubbed “Muckleshoot Plaza”, the field’s north entrances have been adorned by Indigenous artwork. Featuring a massive seahawk, two salmon, a traditional dugout canoe and written Lushootseed, the impossible to miss architecture designed by Muckleshoot artists serve to remind all who pass by that they are guests on Coast Salish land. 

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

Whether the Seattle Seahawks make it to this year’s Super Bowl or not, in the hearts and minds of thousands of Coast Salish tribal members, they 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.

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.