by Dominick Joseph, Communications Assistant


Around one hundred and sixty students and twenty-one chaperones traveled to Washington State University this last weekend to experience the annual Native American Youth Sports Summit and Native American Appreciation Basketball Game sponsored by WSU Native Programs and WSU Athletic Marketing.

Jacklyn Brendible (Tsimshian), chair of the ASWSU Ku-ah-mah student organization, and Jaissa Grunlose (Colville), Miss-Pah-Loots-Puu and chair of the Native American Women’s Association, welcome the crowd to the annual Native American Appreciation Day basketball game.

Visiting youth experienced WSU women’s basketball team take on USC in Beasley Coliseum, where they witnessed a welcome from WSU Native student organization leaders and student ambassadors on the jumbotron.

Mack Strong, former Seattle Seahawk, provided a keynote for the Native Youth Sports Summit.

After the game, participants walked to Bohler Gym to hear a keynote speech by Mack Strong, a former All-Pro fullback for the Seattle Seahawks. Mack shared his insight on what he has learned from his professional career and that hard work, relationship-building, and dedication are the primary keys to his success.

Soon after Strong’s speech, participants were able to hear from and ask questions of five student-athlete panelists. They shared their experience of what it takes to be a successful student-athlete at Washington State University. The student panel included Kelis Barton from soccer, Breanna Roney (Lumbee) from rowing, Penny Tusa from volleyball, and Kassidy Woods and John Bledsoe from football.

After the panel, participants had the option to take a tour across campus and see all the possibilities Washington State University has to offer.

Following the long, eventful day, the participants were then able to watch the WSU men’s basketball game against the Stanford Cardinals. WSU gave them a good run but eventually fell short 57-75.

Kenzie Thompson Sheldon (Tulalip) youth visitor said that her favorite part of the whole experience was “Meeting one of the college athletes, that gave me advice about getting into colleges. She told me to reach out to colleges as soon as possible and tell them everything about me.”

Student athletes shared their experience at WSU with the attendees of the Native Youth Sports Summit.

The Native Youth Sports Summit is more than just a basketball game. It is bringing Native youth to campus, exposing them to higher education, showcasing personal stories, and helping them see that college is a possibility at WSU. This is an annual event and is open to 6th-12th graders, It is free to students and their family members.