Lady Hawks stumble in back-to-back defeats



By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

After opening the season in grand fashion, undefeated at 5-0 and sitting atop the league standings, the Tulalip Heritage Lady Hawks have taken the L in consecutive matches.

On Friday, September 30, the Lady Hawks (5-0) hosted the Highlanders (2-1) from Providence Classical Christian. The Lady Hawks got shellacked 9-25 in the 1st game, but responded with a gritty 25-23 win in the 2nd game. The 3rd game was a repeat of the 1st, with the Lady Hawks committing too many errors and not able to return the ball. They dropped the 3rd game 10-25.  Again, the home team responded with a well-played 4th game, winning 25-14, and forcing a match deciding Game 5.

In the 5th game, the Lady Hawks started out playing with a sense of urgency and went up 6-3. However, they weren’t able to keep it up and the Highlanders would battle back and claim the game and match victory. It was the first taste of defeat for the Lady Hawks.

On Monday, October 3, the Lady Hawks (5-1) traveled to Mountlake Terrace to take on the Lions (5-1) of Cedar Park Christian. These two teams were tied for first in the Northwest 1B league.

The Lady Hawks came out ballin’ in the 1st game. They took a very quick 12-1 lead and closed out the game 25-16. Unfortunately, the tide turned in the Lions favor as they seemed to figure out the Lady Hawks offensive strategy. At every opportunity, the Lions would wait for the setter and put their tallest players at the net to block Lady Hawk attacks. The Lions strategy worked as they won the 2nd game 25-18, 3rd game 25-19, and 4th game 25-15.

Tulalip falls to second in the standings with a (5-2) record. They now have a few days to practice, watch game film, and figure out where they can make adjustments. With upcoming home games on Monday, October 10, and Wednesday, October 12, the Lady Hawks will look to right the ship and get back to their winning ways.



Lady Hawks volleyball returns with emphatic victory



By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The Tulalip Heritage Lady Hawks volleyball program took leaps forward last year by winning five regular season matches and winning two clutch postseason matches before losing a nail-biter to Shoreline Christian, ending their season with a 7-11 final record. This season’s Lady Hawks team returns seven players from last year, and with another off season of development under their belt the Heritage program looks to take another successful leap forward.

On Thursday, September 8, the Lady Hawks hosted the Grace Academy Eagles in what doubled as the season and home opening game. Last season, our Lady Hawks got walloped 0-3 in both match-ups with the Eagles, so a good showing would be a nice confidence booster and proof positive the program is developing in the right direction.

From the opening serve it was obvious the Lady Hawks came to play. The first game was a highly contested battle, with each team going on a series of runs. Up 23-22, the Lady Hawks tightened up the defense and scored on back-to-back points to take the opening game 25-22.

The near even play continued in the second game, until miscommunication crept in on the Lady Hawks part leading to them trailing 17-23. Digging deep, they went on a 6-1 run to make it a one point game, 23-24. The momentum was halted moments later with a bad serve that gave Grace the game 23-25.




Tied at one game each, the Lady Hawks opened up a 7-5 advantage to start the third game. However, Grace took control and the home team trailed 10-18. Heritage was unable to get back in the game, going on to lose 17-25.

Down one game to two, and with Grace only needing to win one more game to take the match, the odds weren’t looking good for Heritage. But these Lady Hawks were determined to take the momentum back. They took a very quick 6-1 advantage in the fourth game and never looked back. Winning the fourth game 25-15 tied up the match at two games apiece, forcing a match deciding fifth game.

In the fifth and final game, the Lady Hawks opened up trailing 0-2 before buckling down and scoring at will. Determined to end their match losing streak to Grace, the Lady Hawks went on a 15-3 run to clinch the game 15-6 and take the match victory 3-2 in front of a very spirited home crowd.

The Lady Hawks hit the road for their next two matches against Lopez and Arlington Christian before coming back home to host Skykomish on Tuesday, September 20.



Tulalip hosts unprecedented Jr. NBA camp

jr nba web


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

History was made at the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club over the weekend of July 8, as the National Basketball Association (NBA) selected the Tulalip Tribes to host a first of its kind summer basketball camp focused on engaging Native American youth. The three-day Jr. NBA camp was developed to be a youth basketball participation program for boys and girls ages 10-14. With the NBA holding this event on Tulalip Tribes’ land, it marked the first time ever a Jr. NBA camp took place in Indian Country.

“The Jr. NBA is always looking to engage different communities that love basketball,” said David Krichavsky, the NBA’s vice-president of youth basketball development. “Working with Tulalip provides us a unique opportunity to connect with our young fans and their coaches alongside some of the NBA’s best ambassadors.”

Jr. NBA camps are designed to teach the game’s fundamental skills and core values at a grassroots level to help grow and improve the youth basketball experience for players, coaches, and parents. Within the Tulalip community, we know how much our people, especially our youth, love the game of basketball. To have NBA players involved, such as SuperSonics legend Detlef Schrmpf and former University of Washington stand-out Spencer Hawes, the opportunity for camp participants to make life long memories and have memorabilia signed added even more benefits.




“Our Native community loves basketball and the NBA,” stated Marlin Fryberg Jr., executive director for the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club. “The Jr. NBA camp acknowledges our Native American passion for the game and will help make NBA fans for life while teaching basketball’s important values.”

With the assistance of NBA and Boys & Girls Club staff, the Jr. NBA camp taught our youth the importance of hard work, teamwork, discipline and self-respect. Their focus was to provide the young Tulalip athletes of all skill levels with the instructions and training that have made some of the NBA’s brightest stars elite on and off the court.

“Skills like teamwork, passion, accountability, and responsibility are at the core of these communities and the core of our game,” said Brooks Meek, NBA vice-president of International Basketball Operations and 1994 graduate of Marysville-Pilchuck High School. “I am especially excited to help bring the NBA to my home community, having grown up with so many friends from Tulalip. We are very fortunate to work with such committed partners as we bring our League to these passionate fans.”

Every camp session started with plyometric warm-ups that got the youth primed for the next series of basketball training. After several rotations through four different fundamental skill stations that emphasized proper footwork, ball handling, shooting and defense the campers would get a short water break before moving on to team competitions. Team competitions varied by day and age group. There were shooting competitions showcasing the forgotten art of the mid-range jumper, a team oriented 3-point shot contest, and even a point-blank range, lay-up style competition. But what the youth looked forward to most were the daily 5-on-5 half court and full court games that ended every session.




During the spirited team competitions there were several game winning shots made. Each one was met with a booming celebration from the kids and the NBA staffers. A highlight of day 3 took place during the 5-on-5 full court championship game between the 10-12 year olds. With the score tied and only seconds remaining, 11-year-old Frank Salomon from Lummi corralled a rebound and launched and connected on a fade-away jumper as the game buzzer sounded.

“Hitting the game winning shot was amazing,” boasts Frank. “I didn’t know it would go in. I just shot the ball and can’t believe I made it before the buzzer. It was awesome!”

It was an unprecedented weekend all around. From all the youth who got up and got to the Boys & Girls club by 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday and Sunday, the dedicated parents who made it happen, the NBA and Boys & Girls Club staff and trainers who made this Jr. NBA camp special and memorable for all the youth participants, to breaking down a barrier and hopefully forming a lasting partnership between the NBA and the tribes.




“The Tulalip Boys & Girls Club had a great experience working hand in hand with the Jr. NBA basketball team,” adds Marlin Fryberg Jr. “We were selected to be the first Tribe ever to host a Jr. NBA camp for kids. Talking to the kids over the weekend they really enjoyed themselves. We had approximately 140 boys and girls participate, which involved representation from other tribes including Puyallup, Nooksack, Lummi, Muckleshoot, Swinomish, Klamath, and Alaska Natives.

“We are very proud to say we are the first tribe in Indian Country to host a Jr. NBA camp. To know now that Tulalip has opened the door for the NBA to expand their basketball clinics and resources to include tribes is truly an honor.”





Contact Micheal Rios at

Next Generation Biddy Ball



By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Tulalip hosted its quarterly biddy ball tournament on Sunday, March 20 at the Greg Williams court located within the Don Hatch Youth Center. The event was open to all kids ages 3-5 and 6-7 years old.

The Tulalip biddy ball program caters to the youngest generation of aspiring hoopers. It features lower nets, a shortened court, and is for young children who are just learning to play the game of basketball.

“It’s a popular sport in our community,” Deyamonta Diaz, Youth Activity Specialist, said following the day’s event. “We’re getting more and more people bringing their children out to learn and play biddy ball. There’s no previous experience necessary. We give them a fundamental style 5-on-5 game so they can learn how to play on a team .”

Biddy ball is really an instructional program setup for children of all level of experience to enjoy. There’s a lot of running around, basic skill sets, and learning the fundamentals of dribbling and shooting a set shot. During one session, the kids practiced drippling back and forth with then their dominant hand, then switched to dribbling with their other hand. While during another session they worked almost entirely on footwork.

The program at one point drew an estimated 50-60 kids. All the kids received a free t-shirt with ‘Next Generation Biddy Ball’ written across it.




Josh Fryberg, Youth Services Activities Coordinator, concluded the basketball-filled event by commenting, “Tulalip biddy basketball turned out great. Thank you everyone that showed up, especially the kids. All of us at Youth Services would like to continue to bring our community together in a good way. Because our biddy ball participation continues to grow we will expand our program so we are having biddy basketball once a month, the 3rd Sunday of each month from 12:00-3:00 p.m.”

Be on the lookout for more information on Tulalip’s biddy ball program in future issues of the syəcəb newspaper and on our Tulalip News Facebook page. If you have any questions or concerns call Tulalip Youth Services at (360) 716-4909.




Hawks drop season opener to MP, 52-58


Photo/Micheal Rios


by Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The Heritage Hawks basketball team opened their season with a home game vs. the Marysville-Pilchuck Tomahawk JV team on Wednesday, December 2. Last year, the Hawks defeated the MP JV team 70-54 in their season opener, their first win on route to a 13-5 regular season and a deep run into the 1B Tri-District tournament. This season is going to be quite different however, as the Hawks graduated four senior starters last year. Returning to the team is Robert Miles, Willy Enick and Nashone Whitebear. There will be an adjustment period as they are joined by a bunch of new players who are still learning the offensive and defensive sets the Hawks typically run.

Keys to a successful season will be senior Robert Miles continuing to be that do-it-all player for the Hawks, leading the hawks in scoring while anchoring the defense, and for senior Willy Enick to take on a larger role on both sides of the ball. These two will have to lean on key contributions from their teammates and the hope is sophomore Josh Iukes will be able to fill that primary ball handler roll.



Photo/Micheal Rios


The 1st half was a turnover fest for the Hawks as they tried to force too many difficult passes, choosing to lob passes over the top instead of using a crisp bounce pass. The Hawks overcame the turnovers in the 1st quarter, taking a 9-6 into the 2nd quarter.

When Josh Iukes found himself in foul trouble seconds into the 2nd quarter, picking up three quick ones, it really hurt the Hawks game plan. He had to hit the bench, taking the Hawks point guard off the court. The turnover continued to pile on while MP went on a 21-10 run spanning the quarter. At halftime, the Hawks trailed 16-27.



Photo/Micheal Rios


In the 3rd quarter, the Hawks came out determined to take the lead back. Defensively, it was their best quarter of the game. Everyone was staying active, contesting shots, and going after rebounds. The Hawks got within 4 points, 29-33, late in the 3rd quarter. In the closing seconds Josh Iukes picked up his 4th personal foul moments before MP’s Raequan Battle, a fellow Tulalip tribal member, launched a 3-pointer that swished in.

The Hawks were down 7 points, 29-36, with one quarter left to play. They executed their defensive press nicely, forcing key turnover and finishing layups on offense, allowing them to cut their deficit to only 2 points, trailing 38-40 with a little over five minutes to go. When Josh Iukes fouled out of the game, it become that much more difficult to take the lead. The Hawks continued to keep pace, but weren’t able to pull the victory. MP would take the game 58-52, leaving the Hawks to ponder what could have been if not for all the costly turnovers.

Using sports to inspire lifelong fitness


Throughout the 3-Day fitness camp, Tulalip youth had conversations about how to properly workout and take care of their bodies, and learned the importance of a good warmup that includes stretching to avoid injury.
Photo/Micheal Rios


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Dietreich Rios, Suquamish tribal member and owner/operator of Dietreich Fitness in Orlando, Florida, hosted a Native youth basketball camp and fitness clinic at the Donald Hatch Jr. gymnasium, November 23-25. The 3-day health expo was all about health and fitness, while promoting a tobacco-free lifestyle.

““I’ve trained a lot of athletes, from professional basketball players to body builders, but my passion is motivating and helping our Native peoples stay healthy and strong individuals,” says Dietreich while in the midst of a stretching routine he does before day one of the basketball clinic. “Over the past couple years I’ve become more involved in not only the fitness community, but in Native American health across the nation.

“I try my best to reach and help inspire, motivate, and teach as many people as I can. I preach fitness and basketball since that’s what I grew up doing; playing basketball was all I did as a kid then as I got older I got heavily into fitness. I try to integrate the two whenever I can.”


Dietreich Rios, a Suquamish tribal member and owner/operator of Dietreich Fitness in Orlando, Florida.Photo/Micheal Rios

Dietreich Rios, a Suquamish tribal member and owner/operator of Dietreich Fitness in Orlando, Florida.
Photo/Micheal Rios


Dietreich grew up in the greater Seattle area before moving to Florida to pursue dreams of opening his own fitness center. He has become a renowned personal trainer and basketball skills coach to many high school hoopers, D-1 college athletes, and has even added the likes of Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis (an NBA player) to his clientele.

We’ve all witnessed how the health and fitness movement has grown immensely over the past several years. Currently, there are no shortage of gyms and workout areas in Marysville, and it wasn’t too long ago that the Tulalip Teen Center and Tulalip Bay Crossfit opened their doors to our reservation based community.

“Getting Natives to keep their minds and bodies healthy through fitness, exercise, and sports is a big movement right now. We’ve always had basketball, rez ball you know, but from what I’ve been seeing there is more of an emphasis on overall fitness and health within tribal communities,” explains Dietreich. “Our people are getting inspired from seeing the Nike N7 movement and by seeing famous athletes like WNBA all-star Shoni Schimmel. More Native youth are seeing people who look like them have success on the professional level, especially young girls who look up to Shoni and her sister Jude, they are motivated play basketball.”

Preaching and advocating for a healthy lifestyle that includes being active through exercise and sports is nothing new for Native Americans. Natives have always been known for their athletic ability, but in the last couple generations the numbers say that athletic skill isn’t being utilized like it once was. Obesity, diabetes, and heavy alcohol/drug use have been running rampant through our communities, making it harder and harder to find the well-conditioned Native athlete above the age of 30.

Whatever the reason may be, tribal departments and communities nationwide have ramped up their focus on engaging Native youth to stay active through sports and fitness. Get them started when they are young and the hope is they’ll continue to maintain that healthy lifestyle and be a role model to others later in their life.

“The movement is definitely growing. Through my travels I’ve seen more community fitness centers and youth athletic centers being built on reservations,” reflects Dietreich. “Now there’s a big emphasis to have a gym, to have places for our people to work out and stay fit, and to have departments getting our young ones involved in sports and fitness.”




The Tulalip Tribes Youth Services Department has been monumental in creating activities, services, and teaching fitness based curriculum to our youth. Since opening the Tulalip Teen Center, the Youth Services Department has been steadfast in reaching out and bringing motivational speakers, fitness experts, and Native celebs to engage with our youth.

Shortly after we hosted the Gary Payton Basketball Camp, Youth Services, with the help of DeShawn Joseph, learned of Dietreich and his assortment of fitness skills he uses to motivate and energize Native youth. Within the past year Dietreich has taught fitness and basketball camps on the Jamestown S’Klallam Reservation and within the Navajo Nation. He is also preparing to do some fitness camps up north for a few First Nations tribes in Canada.

Throughout the 3-Day fitness camp, Tulalip youth had conversations about how to properly workout and take care of their bodies, learned the importance of a good warmup that includes stretching as to avoid injury, and covered tobacco prevention.

“Tobacco prevention is an interesting topic to me because it should be a no brainer for all athletes, but still there are so many young athletes who choose to smoke,” asserts Dietreich. “If you are going to play sports, then you shouldn’t smoke tobacco because it’s detrimental to what you’re trying to do.”




The exercises the kids enjoyed most during the camp were undoubtedly those that called for dribbling or shooting a basketball. They were all able to participate in a multitude of basic and semi-advanced basketball skill building exercises. Each exercise is something Dietreich hopes the kids will continue to make part of their fitness routine.

Following the fitness camp, Dietreich took to Facebook to thank the Tulalip community. “In the spirit of being thankful, I want to thank the Tulalip Tribes for hosting me this week while I put on this youth basketball and fitness clinic. I had a great group of kids! Hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.”

Lady Hawks finish season playing their best volleyball





By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

On Thursday, October 29, the Tulalip Heritage Lady Hawks (5-9) hosted the Skykomish Rockets (4-10) at Francy J. Sheldon court for a play-in game to the Northwest District 1B Volleyball Tournament. It was either win and advance to the playoffs or lose and the season was over for the Lady Hawks.

This would be the third matchup between these two teams, with Tulalip having beaten them at home 3-1 earlier in the season but then losing 2-3 at Skykomish just two weeks ago. The pressure was on Tulalip.

The Lady Hawks would rise to the occasion and win the 1st game 25-11, lose the 2nd game 16-25, bounce back to take the 3rd game 25-16, and finish them off 25-13 in the 4th game to claim the match victory, 3-1, and punch their ticket to the postseason.

The 2015 Northwest District 1B Volleyball Tournament was held at Mt. Vernon Christian High School on Saturday, October 31. By winning their play-in game, the Lady Hawks had earned the right to play the #1 seeded team in the playoffs, the Mount Vernon Christian Hurricanes, in the opening game of the tournament.

In the 1st game the Lady Hawks managed to jump out to a 5-0 lead before the Hurricanes went on a massive 25-1 point run and down the Lady Hawks 6-25. In the 2nd game, Tulalip played Mt. Vernon Christian to a 10-10 tie before losing, 16-25. Again, in the 3rd game, Tulalip would play the Hurricanes to a 9-9 standstill early on, but then Hurricanes went on a game ending runs to win 11-25.




Losing 0-3 to the #1 ranked Hurricanes was a moral victory for Lady Hawks, as they took solace in knowing they were able to go point-for-point with the best team in the district when they played together and communicated effectively. The loss put Tulalip in a ‘loser out’ match versus the Cedar Park Christian Lions, so there would be only a 30 minute turn-around before they had to play again.

The Lady Hawks vs. Lions match would be the best match the Lady Hawks have played all season long. The two teams matched up almost identically with their style of play and athletic ability.

In the 1st game the Hawks would take a 12-8 lead before trailing at 19-22. Digging deep, the Lady Hawks finished the game on a 6-1 run to win the opening game, 25-23. The 2nd game would again see the Lady Hawks take a 12-8 lead before going up 20-18. However, this time it was the Lions who went on a game ending run, 7-1, to win 25-21. Tulalip bounced back in the 3rd game; after trailing 8-12 early, they would take an 18-16 lead before closing out on a 7-2 to win 25-18.

The 4th game saw the both teams match each other point for point to a 10-10 tie before the Lady Hawks managed to take a 23-19 lead. It looked like the game would go to the Lady Hawks after an Ace by Keryn Parks, but the court judges declared the ball went out of bounds. (Upon replay it was obvious the Ace was good, but volleyball doesn’t use replay) The terrible call gave the Lions new life and they rallied to beat Tulalip, 26-24.

Tied at 2 games each, the match would game down to a deciding 5th game. In volleyball, 5th games are played to 15 points instead of the usual 25 points. The Lady Hawks did their ‘pump it up’ huddle rally to make sure everyone had their focus back. Both teams were relentless in their pursuit of the ball in this final game. Players from both sides were flying around and diving on the ground to save each possible rally. The score was tied 8-8, then tied 13-13 before the Lady Hawks connected on back-to-back aces by Aliya Jones to win the game 15-13 and the match 3-2.

Winning the match meant the Lady Hawks had made it to the 5th place game, where they would play the Shoreline Christian Chargers. As in their previous match, this one would be another 5 game affair. The Lady Hawks continued to battle, set each other up for good passes and strikes, while also talking it up.




In the 1st game the Lady Hawks would fall 20-25, bounced back to win the 2nd game 25-21, fell in the 3rd game 19-25, and rally to win the 4th game 25-19. In the 5th and deciding game, the Lady Hawks would again be in a highly competitive, every point counts mode. Every point and rally by either team was countered right away, to the point that the game was tied 14-14 before the Chargers won back-to-back points that clinched match victory.

After the very up and down regular season the Lady Hawks had, it was a delight to see them play with as much energy and team spirit in their play-in game to make it to the playoffs, then to rise to the occasion over and over again versus grade-A competition. Finished 6th in the entire 1B District is definitely an achievement for the Lady Hawks and their coach summed it up best following the season ending game.

“I am so very proud of our Lady Hawks volleyball team,” stated Coach Tina Brown. “The girls made it to districts for the first time, they played with pride and fought hard. What a great season.”



Lady Hawks keep games competitive, but unable to close against Lobos and Knights




by Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

On Friday, October 9, the Tulalip Heritage Lady Hawks (3-4) volleyball team traveled to Lopez Island to take on the (5-1) Lobos. It was the second time these two teams have faced each other, with the previous being a 0-3 loss at home for Tulalip.

This time around the Lady Hawks had their full squad of players and have been playing very good team volleyball. The Lady Hawks were able to keep the score close in each game, countering each Lobos point with a point of their own. Surprisingly, two of the three games were played beyond the 25 point mark because neither team was able to take a two-point advantage. Unfortunately, even with the great effort being displayed by the Lady Hawks they would fall just short in both of those games.

The Lobos won the match 3-0 over the visiting team, but Tulalip gave them all they could handle and if only a couple points had gone differently they could have won the match.

On Tuesday, October 13, the Lady Hawks (3-5) again hit the road and traveled the short distance to Cascade Christian Reformed Church in Marysville to play the Arlington Highland Knights (4-4). It was also the second time these two teams had faced each other, with the previous being a very competitive 0-3 defeat at home for Tulalip.




This match would have substantial repercussions on the Northwest 1B volleyball standings. Currently sitting in the #4 spot are the Knights and only one game behind them are the Lady Hawks at #5. With a win the Lady Hawks could have the inside track to being the #4 seed come playoff time, meaning they would host a home playoff game.

Prior to the game, coach Tina Brown spoke about the team’s mindset heading into this big matchup. “We’ve been working hard in practice and going over game film to have the girls see what areas of their game needs improvement. They agree communication is our number one area to focus on. Our communication has been the biggest factor in our wins and in our losses. If we focus on communicating and helping each other out, then this will be a great game. We have to communicate and trust each other.”

In the 1st game, everything that could go wrong for the Lady Hawks did go wrong. Early season struggles of hitting their serves in play was once again an issue. The Lady Hawks were giving away easy points to their opponent simply because they weren’t getting the ball over the net on their serves. As this continued to happen in the first game, the team really struggled to play together and they stopped communicating. The Knights went on to win the 1st game 25-13, in large part to the 7 unforced errors the Lady Hawks committed in their serving game.

In the 2nd game, the Lady Hawks cleaned up their service game and only committed 3 unforced errors. Getting the ball over the net got the girls engaged into the game and they communicated like they know how. Tying the game at 10-10 and then again at 20-20, the Lady Hawks were in good position to win the game. However, the Knights called timeout after the game was tied at 20-20 to talk things over. Their coach noticed the Tulalip front line players were moving way too close to the net, resulting in holes in the back line of the Tulalip defense. Out of their timeout, the Knights were able to capitalize on their coach’s advice and went on a 5-2 run to seal the game 25-22 by aiming for those holes in Tulalip’s back line.

In the 3rd game, the Lady Hawks started out hot and led by Adiya Jones serving four straight aces, took a 8-4 lead. The game was highly competitive and the Lady Hawks were playing their best ball of the match. After only giving up two points on bad serves, they were able to take a 23-18 lead.  For whatever reason though, the Lady Hawks tightened up only needing a couple points to win the game and they stopped communicating with each other. Going back to what their coach said prior to the game, if they don’t communicate and trust each then they won’t be able to pull out a victory. And that’s exactly what happened. The Lady Hawks blew their 23-18 lead and lost the game 25-27, resulting in a 0-3 match defeat.

Both matches of this road trip were winnable by the Lady Hawks if they could just learn to communicate effectively for an entire match, not just for minutes at a time, and close out the games they are leading. Now sitting at 3-6 on the season, the playoffs are still a realistic goal, but only if the Lady Hawks clean up their game.

Ball Is Life: Empowering and creating lasting impact through basketball

Gary Payton with Native  youth during basketball camp.Photo/Micheal Rios

Gary Payton with Native youth during basketball camp.
Photo/Micheal Rios


by Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

On Saturday, September 19, the Tulalip Youth Center hosted Gary Payton’s youth basketball camp. Targeting basketball players in the 5-12 and 13-18 age range, the camp offered skill development under the supervision of the Seattle SuperSonics Hall of Famer and legend, “The Glove”. Presented in partnership with RISE ABOVE, Elite Youth Camps and the Tulalip Tribes, the basketball camp marked the launch of a new movement to empower and create resilience in future leaders in Indian Country using sports as a modality.

RISE ABOVE was founded by Jaci McCormack, an enrolled member of the Nez Perce Tribe, to empower Native youth to live a healthy lifestyle and provide awareness, prevention and character enrichment using the sport of basketball as a platform. The purpose is to connect with the urban Native youth on a level that they can relate to and understand in order to create a lasting impact on their lives.

“I have worked with some extremely talented and passionate people who helped develop the Native youth initiative: RISE ABOVE,” explains McCormack. “Although the vehicle to attract youth is basketball, we are dedicated to empower youth through education and prevention. RISE ABOVE basketball, RISE ABOVE your circumstance to live your best life each day. Along with our message, we are excited to bring the star sizzle to tribal communities, while creating more local heroes for our youth.”


Photo/Micheal Rios

Photo/Micheal Rios


Elite Youth Camps organizes camps, clinics, tournaments and non-profit community events for professional athletes and their respective teams. In our case the professional athlete was Hall of Famer Gary Payton and his team of 100+ Tulalip youth who were registered for basketball camp.  With the assistance of Payton, Elite Youth Camps taught our youth the importance of hard work, teamwork, discipline and self-respect. Their focus was to provide the young Tulalip athletes of all skill levels with the instructions and training that have made some of the NBA’s brightest stars elite on and off the court.

“This organization was developed from its love for education, athletics, and philanthropy,” says David Hudson, affectionately known as Coach Dave by his campers, and owner of Elite Youth Camps. “We emphasize that sports are similar to life; what you put in, you get in return.”

Coach Dave uses his immense background in basketball, as well as his relationships with professional athletes to plan and execute the best camps around. He graduated from Rainier Beach High School in Seattle before playing college ball at the University of Washington. When his playing career concluded he decided to combine his love for basketball and his passion for helping the youth and made Elite Youth Camps a reality.

As an urban youth just wanting to play basketball, Coach Dave remembers attending Gary Payton’s youth basketball camp as a child and the lasting effect Payton’s camp left with him.

“He was my favorite player growing up. I do what I do because of my experiences at his camp.” says Coach Dave. “I try to do for kids what camp did for me: spark an interest and just teach work ethics, discipline and all the skills you’ve got to have in life no matter what you want to do. Even if you are a doctor or a librarian, you have to know when to be quiet, know to project yourself when you speak, and work hard at whatever you do. We want to teach life lessons that are bigger than basketball.”


Photo/Micheal Rios

Photo/Micheal Rios


Though Coach Dave primarily leads the basketball drills with help from his assistance coaches, “The Glove” is ever-present with campers who get plenty of opportunities for autographs and pictures with the nine-time NBA All-Star.

The camp started at 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning and continued until 4:00 p.m. The camp was broken up into two 3-hour sessions. The early session was all about basic basketball fundamentals and technique on the individual level, while the afternoon session focused on group drills emphasizing sportsmanship and teamwork.

In between sessions the 100 or so Tulalip campers had a 1-hour break to enjoy their catered lunch provided by Youth Services. During the lunch hour, camp coaches and volunteers were able to explain and pass-out a wellness survey to the kids. The survey, consisting of questions regarding drugs, alcohol, bullying and self-awareness, will be used as a barometer to get a general feel for the wellness of the Tulalip youth. Results of the surveys will be compiled and processed by RISE ABOVE before being passed on to our own Youth Services department.

Also, during the lunch break it came to the attention of the syəcəb that there was a handful of Native youth who made quite a journey to Tulalip to participate in the camp and meet Gary Payton. A family with three eager young basketball players came from the Confederated Tribe of the Colville Reservation, while another family, the Vanderburgs, journeyed all the way from the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) of the Flathead Reservation, located in northwest Montana. The Vanderburgs held a frybread and chili dog fundraiser at their local community center in order to pay for their kids’ entry fees and travel expenses for the Tulalip basketball camp.


Photo/Micheal Rios

Photo/Micheal Rios



Proud mother Chelsi Vanderbug said, “It was a lot of work to get my son and daughter here, but I knew it would pay off. All the staff and coaches of this camp are people who really care about the youth. They had very good speeches about their journeys in life and provided lots of motivation on the importance of education and making good choices. Gary Payton was all about getting the right message to the youth about how they are our future. I was very impressed. My kids truly enjoyed this camp and opportunity to attend.”

Concluding the camp, each coach shared heart felt words with the kids and thanked them all for allowing the coaches the opportunity to work with them. The last to speak was the icon Mr. Gary Payton.

“It’s been a pleasure for me to be here today. This gave me the experience to go back home and be able to say that I worked with a group of kids who love the game of basketball, but who love themselves even more. I love and admire each and every one of you. I hope that when I come back, all of you who are here today will be able to tell me your goals in life and plans to achieve them. Everything will not always go your way. There will be both losses and wins, like with basketball, but if you give everything your best shot and learn the lessons along the way, you will come out a winner.”



Photo/Micheal Rios

Gary Payton Youth Skills Academy at Tulalip

Upcoming native youth basketball skills academy in partnership with Rise Above & Elite Youth Camps, Saturday September 19th 2015 from 9am-4pm located at the Tulalip Youth Center. Ages 5-18, must be a Tulalip Tribal member. Pre-registration is suggested, stop by the Don Hatch Youth Center.