Yoel Tekle: basketball an outlet for talented Tekle

Tekle looks to make an inbound pass the Hawks regional state tourney game this season.

Tekle looks to make an inbound pass the Hawks regional state tourney game this season.

By Andrew Kim

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The point guard passes the ball to Tekle, he shakes the defender with the grace of Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and shoots the hook shot to score.

Everything from getting accepted to the University of Washington, making it to state for basketball his junior and senior year, and now graduating high school, Yoel Tekle has found great success throughout his high school career. Tekle said what’s kept him determined up through his senior year is his dedication to play basketball and succeed with his academics.

Himself a first generation American, Tekle’s family immigrated from Eritrea, a small country in East Africa.

“My dad was a soldier in the civil war,” Tekle said.

He said his father has “walked days and days to get to Sudan,” to fly out to Seattle and bring his mother and the rest of his relatives. Born in Swedish hospital, Tekle’s mother now works there as a nurse.

Starting on the court when he was just five years old, Tekle said his father introduced him to the game he now loves.

“We’d be outside shooting hoops, teaching me how to dribble, and God gave me this height and I’ve been using it,” Tekle said. Tekle stands an impressive 6 feet 6 inches tall.

Tekle said playing basketball has kept him on the right track and has kept him determined.

“I give a lot of thanks to basketball. Not only is it fun, but it has taught me to be a man, be a leader, learn to speak for myself, learn what hard work is and what achieving your goals take,” he said.

During his basketball season, Tekle formed a special bond with his team and with Coach Nalin Sood.

“He’s like a second father figure,” Tekle said of Sood.

The team has had movie nights as well as other bonding sessions, which brought the team together. With strong competition among team members, such as Loren LaCasse, Tekle has been able to thrive from that competition. Tekle said LaCasse has been a major factor toward his development in basketball.

“We used to go at it,” Tekle said.

Although the team didn’t make it to the Tacoma Dome this year, Tekle said the experience of being on the basketball team all four years in high school has truly helped him from his freshman year up to the present.

Considering basketball after high school, Tekle said, “Basketball was a way for me to be interactive, compete in that stuff, but I think going to a university would be the best choice for me.”

Tekle has also been awarded for his academic excellence. He was recognized as one of the top 10 African-American applicants to apply to the University of Washington. He was also awarded the Costco Diversity Scholarship for University of Washington students. With a 3.8 cumulative GPA, a member in various activities such as ASB, Link Crew, Honor Society, and Teens Against Tobacco Use, Tekle has stayed busy all throughout his years at MTHS.

However, Tekle said he is nowhere near achieving his ultimate goals. He said his goals are “not accomplished. Not yet achieved.”

Tekle said he plans to earn his bachelor’s degree and then go on to obtain his master’s degree. Planning on studying civil engineering, Tekle has received an internship at the University of Washington in the civil engineering department.

Tekle said much of his success has been because of his great support team at home, saying his mother has helped him stay focused and motivated.

“My mom, coming to America with nothing but a dollar and a dream, she works night and day for us. I just want that same work ethic, that same desire.”

Inspired, Tekle was able to achieve the dreams he wishes to pursue for the future. Motivation plays a key role for him as well.

“I don’t set any limits to what I can achieve,” Tekle said.

Despite his numerous accomplishments, Tekle said he doesn’t want praise because he has bigger goals that he has not yet reached. “I just keep going and just keep climbing,” Tekle added.

Tekle said his greatest moments in high school stand out, one of which was getting accepted to the University of Washington. Going to the Tacoma Dome for the state basketball tourney last year, riding along with the team has also stood out in his memories of high school.

Tekle said he looks forward to “growing to see what it takes to reach my dreams.”

Planning on moving into the Seattle UW campus, Tekle said, “I just feel like there is a whole other aspect of the campus, and I just want to be a part of it. Wanting to be able to join clubs is what really makes the UW.”

Tekle said he is looking forward to the sense of community and culture that comes with an urban campus setting.

“Living there would be a great thing for me because I’ll be able to grow, and be able to interact with other people and just learn,” he said.