TACOMA’S OWN ISAIAH THOMAS OPENS AL DAVIES BASKETBALL GYM
Teens’ cheers and smiles erupted when the purple doors opened to the new Boys & Girls Clubs gym—and NBA star Isaiah Thomas was there to greet them.
Thomas, a Tacoma native and alumni of Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, was the headliner for the gym’s ribbon-cutting today at the Club’s Al Davies Branch in Tacoma.
The new facility is named Isaiah Thomas Court, honoring the former Al Davies Branch Club member who played for the University of Washington before turning pro. Isaiah, the 60th and final pick in the 2011 NBA draft, is now a point guard for the Boston Celtics and is a two-time NBA All-Star.
“Thank you to everyone who helped me. Without Tacoma I wouldn’t be where I am today. I represent it proudly everywhere I go,” Thomas said during the ceremony. “I always dreamed of having a gym, and now I’ve got one. So you better use it."
The new 5,700-square foot gym will allow the Al Davies Branch to serve about 80 teens a day, double the number they could before the new space.
Funding and development support for the $150,000 gym were provided by the Lowe’s Renovation Across the Nation grant, the National Basketball Players Association Foundation and Thomas himself.
Lowe’s awarded a $50,000 Renovation Across the Nation grant to one Boys & Girls Club in every state. Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Lowe’s selected the Al Davies gym project as the grant recipient for our state. The grant was unsolicited and was awarded specifically to upgrade teen spaces as part of a national focus on teen retention.
Thomas contributed $80,000 to the project to help pay for the renovations, flooring and banners around the gym. The National Basketball Players Association Foundation donated $20,000.
The new gym floor is decorated with a custom illustration of the Tacoma Dome, Mount Rainier and city skyline. Gifford Industries of Edmonds, Wash. led the construction work for the project.
A unique feature of the gym is a purple line painted at Thomas’ height, 5’ 9” above the floor. The line is meant to be an inspiring reminder to youth: Don’t let your height—or any other obstacle—hold you back from your dreams.
“I was picked last in the draft, but I embraced it. All I ever wanted to do was play in the NBA,” Thomas said. “Take the opportunities you get and just keep going. Don’t give up. Believe in yourself.”
Thomas also recently supported BGCSPS when he received the NBA Cares Community Assist Award for December. The award includes a $10,000 charitable donation from Kaiser Permanente and the NBA, and Thomas chose BGCSPS as the recipient.
PLU WOMEN FINISH RUNNERS-UP AT NWC SWIM CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Pacific Lutheran University women's swimming team captured two more event titles on Sunday but was unable to secure its fourth consecutive league title, placing second at the 2017 Northwest Conference Championships at the King County Aquatic Center.
The Lutes finished the three-day championships with four individual titles and 576 points to collect the runner-up finish as Whitman College wrestled the team title away from the Lutes after scoring 622.5 points. The University of Puget Sound was 118 points behind PLU in third with 458 points.
“The women were great individually we just didn't have the relays to compete for the top spot,” said PLU Head Coach Matt Sellman. “Whitman was just as well prepared a team as I've seen at a championship meet. They swam incredibly well and Jenn Blomme proved herself, once again, as one of the great coaches in college swimming.”
Erica Muller kicked off the evening session with a victory in the 1,650-yard freestyle, owning an eight-second gap on the rest of the field and finishing in 17 minutes, 27.11 seconds to win the title for the second consecutive season. Teammate Jessica Stenberg placed seventh, finishing in 18:22.99.
Victoria Nguyenle claimed the Lutes' second title of the night, securing the win in the 200-yard breaststroke in a school record time of 2:23.15 with Ingrid Straume finishing seventh (2:30.58) and Whitney Mundle placing eighth (2:30.70). Sarah Ameny finished sixth in the 200-yard butterfly (2:14.33), while Morgan Commander finished seventh in the 200-yard backstroke (2:09.85). PLU closed the meet by placing fourth in the 400-yard freestyle relay, logging a time of 3:35.50.
“However disappointed we are in not coming out on top, we are really proud of how we swam and put up some incredible performances in high pressure moments,” said Sellman. “I told the team before we even started training this year 'champions aren't determined by point totals. We have to act and prepare to be champions every day and when you do that, the score at the end of the meet is irrelevant.'”
On Saturday, Reese Ackman won the 100-yard butterfly in a school record time while Danielle Booth and Victoria Nguyenle finished 1-2 in the 100-yard breaststroke with Booth securing an NCAA B Cut time. Other notable performances from the opening two days was Muller finishing second in the 500-yard freestyle and third in the 400-yard individual medley, Danielle Booth finishing fourth in the 50-yard freestyle, Ackman placing fifth (200-yard individual medley) and sixth (100-yard backstroke) along with efforts from both Luna Kim (5th- 100-yard backstroke) and Darcie Booth (6th- 200-yard Freestyle).
The Lutes also had a pair of seventh place finishes from Taylor Bingea (400-yard IM and 500 free), a seventh place finish from Nguyenle in the 200 IM and Whitney Mundle placing eighth in the 100-yard breaststroke.
PLU MEN ALSO NAB RUNNER-UP FINISH AT NWC SWIM CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Pacific Lutheran University men's swimming team utilized a strong finish on Sunday to place runner-up at the 2017 Northwest Conference Championships, leaving the King County Aquatic Center with the Lutes' best finish at the meet since the 1996 season.
PLU accumulated 533 points in the team standings in a championship race that saw only 18 points separating first from third. The Lutes finished 14 points shy of League Champion Whitman College (547 points) while Whitworth University was third with 529 points. All three teams held the lead at one point on a wild final day, including the Lutes with two events to go. Linfield College was a distant fourth at the eight-team championships with 464.5 points.
“It was a super exciting meet and one we will remember for a long time,” said PLU Head Coach Matt Sellman. “It's not that often you find yourself in a meet that tightly contested. Whitman was just as well prepared a team as I've seen at a championship meet. They swam incredibly well and Jenn Blomme proved herself, once again, as one of the great coaches in college swimming.”
Dennis Liu followed up yesterday's title in the 100-yard breaststroke with a runner-up showing in the 200-yard breaststroke, touching the wall in two minutes, 8.33 seconds, with Bennon VanHoof securing fifth in 2:09.10. Hunter Cosgrove tallied a runner-up finish in the 1,650-yard freestyle, touching the wall in 16:14.07 with Bradley Jerome trailing in fifth with a swim of 16:24.19. Cody Hartman secured a third place showing in the 200-yard backstroke, stopping the clock in 1:53.31 while Bryson Baligad was sixth in 1:56.43. Paul Jett placed sixth in the 100-yard freestyle in 47.29 with teammate Elijah Singstad securing eighth in 48.08 while the 400-yard freestyle relay closed the meet in third (3:08.84).
In addition to Liu's championship swim on Saturday the Lutes secured 16 additional top eight finishes on the opening two days of the championships including Paul Jett placing second in the 200-yard individual medley and third place showings from Jett in the 100-yard butterfly in a school record time, Bryson Baligad in the 100-yard backstroke, and Bradley Jerome in the 200-yard freestyle, along with a school record setting swim in the 200-yard freestyle relay.
PLU’S BOCKELIE HONORED AS NWC HITTER OF THE WEEK
Pacific Lutheran University’s Jacob Bockelie landed Northwest Conference Hitter of the Week honors on Tuesday for his performance over the weekend in southern California.
After sitting out all last season with an injury, Bockelie made his presence felt in the Lutes' (2-1) opening series of the year against Pomona-Pitzer Colleges, hitting .455 at the plate with five RBIs and two home runs. The Shoreline, Washington native collected a hit in all three games against the Sagehens, including driving in five runs in PLU's 7-3 victory on Saturday.
The left-handed hitter closed the week with five hits in 11 at-bats, scoring four runs while boasting a slugging percentage of 1.000 and an on-base percentage of .600. The junior was additionally lights out in the field, collecting 15 putouts and one assist with no errors.
The Lutes embark on NWC play this weekend, traveling across town for a three-game series against the University of Puget Sound. First pitch on Saturday's doubleheader is set for 11 a.m. with the series concluding on Sunday at noon.
LOGGER BASEBALL COMES FROM SIX BACK TO INCH CLOSER TO .500
The Puget Sound baseball team erased a six-run deficit to beat Lewis & Clark, 10-9, in a non-conference game at Wilsonville High School on Sunday, Feb. 12.
The Loggers (3-4) entered the home half of the seventh inning trailing, 9-3, but they ended the frame within one run of the Pioneers (0-3). Jordan Hirae and James Dejesus started the rally by drawing consecutive one-out walks. Ian Hughes struck out for the inning's second out, but Hirae stole third and soon came home on a wild pitch. Dejesus also scored on the play thanks to a throwing error by the catcher.
Alex Wojtysiak, Tyler Brazelton, and Ryan Moeys earned consecutive walks to load the bases with two outs. Nick Ultsch drew a walk to force in a run and make it an 8-5 game. Ricardo Barazza reached base on a fielder's choice, which was combined with an error by the third baseman that allowed two more runs to score.
The Loggers took the lead in the eighth inning. With Dejesus and Hughes on first and second and one out, Mason Quinlan singled to load the bases. Moyes came through with a clutch two-run double to put the Loggers in front, 10-9.
David Follett earned his first save of the season by allowing just one hit and no runs through the eighth and ninth innings. Nolan Wiler (2-for-3) was the only Logger to log multiple hits.
Puget Sound opens its home and conference schedule on Saturday, Feb. 18, against crosstown rival Pacific Lutheran at 11 a.m. to start a doubleheader. The teams will meet for a third contest the following day at 12 p.m.