Alfred Love Jr

With A Love For Coaching, Alfred Love, Jr. Looks To Rebuild Cleveland’s Girls Basketball Program

By RayJaun Stelly, The Seattle Medium  

Long before Cleveland’s new girls’ head basketball coach Alfred Love, Jr., took over the program; he had already been putting his imprint on helping youth through the game of basketball. From the time he picked up his first clipboard in the 1980s, Coach Love, just like his name says, did what he loves to do as a basketball coach at Rainier Beach Community Center.

From his days at Rainier Beach Community Center, his journey would begin to branch off. In 1995, Love would spend two years as an assistant coach for the Chief Sealth girls’ team before returning to South Seattle in 1997 to become an assistant coach at Rainier Beach High School. Then with experience at both the recreation and high school level, Love returned to coaching at the youth level in 2002.

When asked what made Love start coaching, his response was, “I realized I have a connection with the youth, I’ve been doing it for 30 years, and the time goes by fast when you’re doing what you love.”

For Love, the time went extremely fast, considering that he planned to stop coaching in 2008 after his players turned ten years old. However, fate and his willingness to make sure that the kids had an opportunity to develop their skills and play the game took over, and Love found himself back on the bench instilling lessons in teamwork, leadership, and sportsmanship.

“I was expecting the kids would advance to play with other coaches,” said Love. “The previous girls’ basketball coach at the community center didn’t return, so the center asked if I would continue coaching the girls, to which I agreed.”

One year later, in 2009, Love founded the SYRF basketball program, which stands for Seattle Youth Recreation Foundation. According to Love, the name is based on the following theory; Seattle is where we’re from, Youth is the community served, Recreation is the type of program they have, and Foundation provides the base and beginning skills for youth wanting to learn basketball.

The genesis of the team was Love’s desire to have his team travel and participate in tournaments outside of Seattle. But to do this, he needed to raise money, which was difficult for a community center team to do.

“In my first year of coaching the 10-year-old girls, we had a weekend off during Presidents Day,” explained Love. “This is a normal break in the season, which I had forgotten about when I had my previous coaching stint, but I was frustrated because it felt like our team was the only one that wasn’t traveling somewhere that weekend to play basketball.”

Using that frustration as motivation, Love was determined to raise enough money to take his team to a tournament the following year. Going through the process of searching for travel funds without much luck, Love re-routed and found it beneficial to create a non-profit to help receive donations simply. With that in mind, he founded SYRF and received a grant from none other than Nike. In addition, he earned a grant from his job after being named the volunteer of the year.

After raising money for his team, Love took his first girls’ basketball team to Portland in 2010 to play in a President’s Day weekend tournament. Since then, the program has grown to include multiple teams for both boys and girls that allow them to enjoy travel and play basketball.

“For many of these kids, this is their first time traveling with a team,” said Love. “We make things affordable for kids to have this experience, and it is not about the wins or losses. We have a lot of kids in our program who have gone on to play in high school and college as well.”

Unlike many other traveling basketball programs across the country, SYRF is affordable and allows all kids interested in participating.

“We don’t have any tryouts for our teams, we don’t make cuts or charge enormous fees like some AAU programs, and all of our coaches are volunteers,” says Love. “We have a wonderful relationship with Seattle Parks and Recreation and Rainier Beach Community center, which has always been our home. Our program also offers basketball skill development classes in the fall and spring for youth and our basketball teams in the winter.”

Having the ability to build a program from the ground up, Love was looking to do that yet again at the high school level and wanted to do so in South Seattle because that is where he has called home, which ultimately landed him at Cleveland High School.

In most cases, a team and coach’s success are defined by wins and losses, but Love isn’t abiding by that typical sports stereotype when it comes to his coaching or his team. Instead, he’s found an alternate style of coaching and mantra, emphasizing players determine their own rules of success and do whatever it is that they find to be successful.

According to Love, basketball teams and programs will have good years and bad years, and while he is determined to build a successful program at Cleveland, he is equally focused on making sure his team is prepared for their next levels of life.

“We can win games or win a state title, but if I can’t prepare you for college, I have failed,” said Love. “It’s not just about playing sports at the next level; it’s about having them prepared.”

With players like Cheyenne and Whitney Wilson, Jayde Christopher, Makala Roper, and Myzhanqiue Ladd, who all helped put state title banners on the gym walls of the school, the Cleveland girls’ basketball program was once a force to be reckoned with on both the local and national basketball landscapes. With Love looking to rebuild the program, he knows that the bar is set high, and reaching it will not happen overnight.

“I have to remind my girls that you have banners on the wall,” said Love. “It’s more than just coaching for me; it’s beyond the court we’re looking for, and this is going to be a three-year plan.

We must dig down and get our foundation first, then build up,” Love concluded.

CHS Football 2022

CHS Football – Growth on and off the field

Submitted by Leonard Hicks, CHS Football Head Coach

When people ask why I coach football, my answer is simple – I love the game. But most of all, I am driven to help student-athletes achieve their greatest potential. Whether that potential is achieved through athletics or academics, overcoming hardships at home, or facing challenges at school or with peers, my passion comes from mentoring and guiding youth toward success in every aspect of their lives.

About me

Athletics has always been in my blood, and I come from a long familial line of boxers, football, basketball, track, and baseball athletes. I fell in love with the game of football as a 7-year-old Rainier Beach Little League player, and the sport has remained a fixture in my life from that point forward – playing at the varsity high school and then semi-pro level until my career was cut short due to injury.

I decided to give back to the game that helped shape me as a young man and found my calling as a coach. I coached several youth football franchises over 18 years and was proud to help lead these under-estimated youth to 14 championships. In 2012, I started my high school coaching career as a coach volunteer at Renton High School and then was hired at Bishop Blanchet, where I held various coaching positions over several years – which then led me to Cleveland, where I was named head coach this spring. I have also served as the Head Track and Field Coach at Mercer Middle School for the past six years.

Team mottos

The Cleveland High School football team grew from 8 athletes in the spring to 27 on the roster come fall – the majority with no prior football experience. So, no surprise, this season was a total rebuild, starting with building camaraderie amongst players and installing a firm culture of work ethic, discipline, and selflessness. Creating a sustainable culture and brotherhood was my primary goal. I developed team mottos to communicate essential qualities required to grow into better players and individuals. Mottos like “Whatever it takes,” “The way we do small things is the way we do all things,” “110% effort leads to 100% execution,” and “If you had fun, you won.”

A new tradition

Each week, after practice the day before each game, the player and coaches shared a Unity Meal. With the gracious help of parents who prepared and served the meals, we sat around the table as a family and spoke openly about goals, motivated one another, expressed appreciation, and established connections. Unity Meal has also been a great way to get parents more involved with the program and their children, something this school rarely sees. For me, it was important to treat each other like family and earn that right through actions. The players have learned how to lift each other up, embrace and support each other, and face adversity together as a team.

Eagle pride

Though our team record of 0-8 may not reflect a winning season, you would never know watching how these boys play. We were significantly smaller and younger than our opponents by far – only three players weighed in over 280# and the rest at 165# and under. This team continued to play hard no matter the score and never forgot to thank the parents, fans, and referees with the utmost class and enthusiasm after every single game. But, behind every loss, this team smiled, laughed, and sometimes even cried tears of joy that expressed their brotherly love for one another and their pride and appreciation for their Eagle community.

A truly rewarding experience

One of my greatest moments this season happened away from the football field. Poor air quality forced us to cancel practice for several days this month. So instead, we used the time for team building and to walk players through the college application process, including applying for financial aid, grants, and scholarships, crafting emails to college football coaches, completing questionnaires, and setting up school visits. One player told me college was “not an option” and that he intended to go to a job core or take on a trade apprentice at the local union. After spending the three days together, he and many others decided to attend and apply to college.

Assistant Coaches

This season could not have happened without the support of my three amazing assistant coaches: Offensive Coordinator/QB/Receiver/DB coach Malaki Carter, Running Back/Linebacker coach Austin Aiona, and the OLine/DLine coach, my son Len Hicks. These young men are all current college students and exemplary role models who helped me build a culture of youth enrichment on and off the field.

CHSAA Donation

This spring, we received a generous donation from the CHSAA that enabled us to purchase vital field equipment such as footballs, agility cones, speed ladders, garbage cans for position alignments, jump ropes, game socks, mouthpieces, and knee pads. We also purchased a vital coaching tool, “HUDL Sideline,” to record and instantly view plays on the field with the team and coaching attire. The donation also helped fund our Spring Football Barbeque, where we were able to reflect on our hard work and commitment to each other during spring camp.

Looking ahead

We are looking ahead to continuing this momentum next season! Alumni and community donations are essential to continuing the success of our program. Our highest priority is new uniforms for the upcoming season at a price tag of between $11,000 – $19,000. Purchasing up-to-date helmet models are also a necessity. My dream is also to provide our players with the experience of attending a football camp. This year, many of our players could not afford the registration cost, resulting in Cleveland pulling out of the camp altogether. Finally, more funding will allow us to bring on additional coaches to provide more personalized instruction and mentoring to each athlete.

Ultimately my goal is to do whatever I can to grow these players into the best version of themselves for life! I appreciate the Alumni Association’s support thus far and humbly call for Cleveland alums’ continued support of Eagle Football.

Dan Jurdy

A Message from Dan Jurdy – New Athletics Director

It is my honor to be the new athletics director at Cleveland High School. I have worked in the Seattle Public Schools (SPS) for 33 years and helped build the Rainier Beach HS sports program as athletic director. During the pandemic, there was a teacher shortage, and I was able to substitute teach at Cleveland. I fell in love with the school, its culture, and its students during this time. When the athletics director position became available, they needed help to fill the position. Peers at SPS contacted me and asked if I would be interested in the athletic director position at CHS. I jumped at the chance and came out of full retirement to help CHS students and the CHS sports program.

I would like to take this opportunity to address my growing concerns about Cleveland’s current financial situation.

Our current athletics budget is $863. This is pathetic. Cleveland students are at a significant disadvantage in this arena because we lack uniforms and essential equipment that helps bolster a successful program. Unfortunately, the school district’s new financial budget structure provides transportation to and from games and nothing else. Schools are left to fend for themselves by way of fundraising.

Out of all the SPS schools, Cleveland is at the greatest disadvantage as other high schools have active boosters and million-dollar endowments that help fund their programs.

This year, together with the PTSA, we have formed a small group of parents and alumni to re-establish a CHS Booster Committee to fundraise. The desire is to bring Eagle pride and spirit back to our beloved school and to provide a higher quality experience for our students, athletes, and the Eagle community.

Alumni – we need your support!

Please consider giving to the CHS Booster! Donations will be dedicated to athletics and spirit initiatives to help offer a quality program with memorable student experiences. I aim to have a healthy annual operating budget dedicated to these important student activities each year so our programs can thrive and not just survive, like in past years.

You can donate to CHS sports via the CHS Alumni Association (CHSAA) or through the CHS PTSA as described below:

Donate through the CHS Alumni Association

 – Online: Make a secure one-time or recurring donation at the Sports fund. 
 – Via mail: Download/Print the Donation Form and mail it with a check. This form is also in every newsletter sent to subscribers.

Donate through the CHS PTSA
 – Online:  Using PayPal and note “CHS Booster” under “What is this payment for?”
 – Via mail and check payable to “Cleveland PTSA” (note “CHS Booster” on the check), ℅ Cleveland High School, 5511 15th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108.

l look forward to a strong partnership between CHSAA, the CHS Booster Committee, and Cleveland High School. We greatly appreciate your support.

Dan Jurdy – Go Eagles!
CHS Athletic Director

CHS Golf Team 2022-23

CHS Golf – A Season of Continued Growth… and Victory

Submitted by Bob Mathews, Head Coach

This year the Cleveland golf team tripled in size from six to eighteen golfers, ranging from novices still learning how to swing a club to a handful of experienced players that qualified for the post-season Metro tournament, giving them a chance to compete in District and hopefully State. “It was great seeing so many new golfers turn out this year,” said Mathews. “Especially after last year’s COVID-challenged season, the students seemed ready to get back in it, and I was happy to welcome them to the golf team.”

Though the scorecard didn’t show the true progress of the team this season (no team wins for the boys), we didn’t forfeit any matches for lack of players like last year. The girl’s team competed in every match short one player and still managed to win four matches. “Coach Barker and I look forward to coaching a competitive team next year,” said Mathews. “This year, we finally got ourselves off the ground floor – I know this team will come back ready for a great 2023 season with hopefully more team wins.”

Cleveland proudly qualified six Eagle golfers who competed in the Metro tournament on October 18 in West Seattle:

  • Sophomore Sam Bernier and juniors Owen Tatterson and Colin Tounalom for the boy’s team;
  • Sophomore Sophia Tounalom, junior Quincy Spivey, and senior Brittany Phan for the girl’s team.

Colin shot 82 at Metro and went on to compete at the District tournament on October 24 in the cold and rain, where he shot an 86. “Colin fell short of qualifying for State this time, but he will get there next year,” promised Matthews. The girls competed in Metro on October 25, battling heavy rain and winds, and still managed to pull out the stops. Brittany shot 92, and Sophia placed 3rd overall, shooting 78, and was named to the All-Metro 1st Team. Both she and Brittany will compete at the District tournament in May. Go Eagles!

“Very proud of these golfers and this team,” said Mathews, “It’s been great seeing each player’s hard work paying off for them; you can see the improvement in each player.”

CHS Volleyball 2021

CHS Volleyball during COVID

Eagle Athletics Are Back!
by John Hughes, Athletic Director

It was music to the ears for all the Eagle student-athletes (especially the seniors) to hear the WIAA, Department of Health, Metro League, and Seattle Public Schools February 1, 2021 announcement that sports are back! It has been over a year since the Eagles last took the field for any competitions due to the pandemic.

The ability for sports to return is conditioned upon compliance with all guidance and protocol measures outlined by the various agencies. First practices are set to begin on February 22, 2021. Most sports competitions may continue as long as the Puget Sound Region, composed of King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties stays in Phase 2.

There will be two seasons this year:

“Season 1” begins February 22, 2021, and includes the following sports: football, cross country, golf, girls bowling, girls soccer, slowpitch softball, girls swim, and volleyball.

“Season 2” begins on April 19, 2021, and includes baseball, boys soccer, boys swimming, basketball, fastpitch softball, track, wrestling, and tennis.

Indoor “high-risk” sports such as wrestling and basketball are not yet authorized to participate in competitions. We are hopeful the Covid numbers will improve to allow them to compete.

Safety will be the number one focus.

Everyone in the Eagle athletics department has had extra time to be trained on Covid-19 return-to-play guidelines.

  • Every practice and game will have a Site Supervisor in charge to ensure compliance with all guidelines and protocols.
  • Coaches have been trained to take Covid screening information, temperature checks, etc.
  • All coaches and student-athletes will wear masks during all events, including practices and competitions.
  • No fans will be allowed at any Metro League competitions this year.

The Eagle athletic department is taking the safety of our coaches, athletes, and community very seriously. The picture shown here is of our volleyball team demonstrating how safely we plan to conduct all events.

There is a new website rolling out where you can see all sports schedules and score results: We encourage all alumni to take a look.

We are excited to offer our students the benefits that participating in high school sports provides. With remote learning still taking place, sports will improve physical fitness, social and emotional development, personal and team goal attainment, leadership development, teamwork, time management skills, and improved academics.

While there will be no state championships this year, there will be Metro League playoffs in a variety of formats allowing our students to set their goals high!

It has been a challenging school year for everyone, but especially for our youth. We hope these next few months give our students some joy and happiness.


CHS Athletics 2020

CHS Athletics Celebrates the Class of 2020

We wanted to share this amazing message from Jonathan Hughes – Athletic Director / Education of CHS!

What a great week of celebration for the class of 2020!  And there is more!  SPS Athletics funded the creation of a video to highlight our seniors and their athletic participation.  We did the best we could trying to track down photos, videos, and names of student-athletes (some hadn’t yet officially registered for spring sports and spring only had a week of practice, no events).  Ms. Scribs and ENN were instrumental in providing many of the photos.  The owner of the production company that made all the films for each high school is a Cleveland High grad class of 2000, Carlos Imani.  You can check that out here:

Updates regarding fall athletics and summer practices will be coming soon.  We are expecting to hear from the Governor and the Health Department regarding WIAA return to play guidelines.  Hoping that information comes within the next several days.  Of course, tomorrow is the big announcement from SPS about what school will look in the fall.  Feeling nervous.


Jon Hughes
Athletic Director / Educator
Cleveland STEM High School

CHS Frisbee Team

Boys Ultimate Frisbee team nabs state title

24. That is the number of wins it took for Cleveland’s Ultimate Frisbee team to take the DiscNW state title. They also took home the Metro League title and won several big tournaments along the way, including the Seattle Invitational. In the state tournament, the Northwest School was no match for Cleveland. The Eagles crushed Northwest, 15-8. It is the first time a boys team from a south end school has won the state title. The Eagles finished their season undefeated, with a remarkable 24-0 record.


Softball players Vicki Ly, left, Fiona Clayton and head coach Rebecca Williams Leach cheer after their team is announced as a nominee for Team of the Year.

2nd Annual Talon Awards

A reprint from the Cleveland Journal. Pictured above: Softball players Vicki Ly, left, Fiona Clayton and head coach Rebecca Williams Leach cheer after their team is announced as a nominee for Team of the Year. Photo by Mauricio Vasquez.

After making it to the district tournament for the first time in Cleveland’s history, the Eagles softball team was named Team of the Year at the 2nd Annual Talon Awards, an all-sports banquet honoring Cleveland’s student-athletes.

Athletes and their families, along with coaches and their assistants, filled the gym, which was decorated with balloons and banners. A buffet barbecue dinner was served.

Media teacher Teresa Scribner and athletic director Jon Hughes organized the event, which is modeled after ESPN’s Espy Awards, with categories like Male and Female Athlete of the Year, Comeback Athlete of the Year and Fan Favorite.

For the Breakout Performance category, there was no shortage of talent. Six athletes were nominated; they all took home awards.

Kezia Cook was one of the nominees for her stellar softball season. Although this was her first time playing the sport, Cook put up a solid performance on the field. She said the hardest part of the sport was actually learning how to play.

“There were a lot of rules that I didn’t understand,” she said.

Cook felt good after winning because all the hard work and support from her teammates and coaches did not go to waste.

Other nominees for Breakthrough Performance were Liann Tran, Matthew Dietz, Martrez Darden, Ciera Davis, and Angus Vlasaty.

Daniel Hamilton oaches wrestling, track and cross country.
Daniel Hamilton coaches wrestling, track and cross country. Photo by Brandon Trujillo.

Duel-sport Athlete Breona Devers was a big winner for the night. She took home the award for Best Female Athlete and was a member of the softball team, who took home Team of the Year honors. Devers was also the winner of the Talon Award’s highest honor: Most Valuable Eagle.

“I feel special because they recognized me, even though I wasn’t looking to be recognized,” Devers said.

According to softball coach Rebecca Williams Leach, it was Devers’ contributions off the field that made her an MVE.

“Breona has served on the Athletes for Social Justice Committee, she is a captain of both the basketball and softball teams and she is the model of leadership, responsibility, and integrity for every athlete in our programs,” Williams Leach wrote in her nomination.

Devers shared MVE honors with Daniel Hamilton. According to Scribner, the three-sport assistant coach was a no-brainer.
“Dan coaches wrestling; he coaches track and cross country,” Scribner said. “The fact that he also helps out in the computer science classes was just the icing on the cake. He had to win.”
Hamilton appeared shocked when his name was called.

“It’s really surprising,” he said. “It caught me off guard, but it’s a huge honor.”

Although there were many individual nominees, there was no shortage when it came to the awards dedicated to teams. Girls golf took home the Scholar Team award and boys Ultimate Frisbee was crowned Fan Favorite based on an online vote. Girls Ultimate came in second in the voting.

Junior Molly House and senior Aram Gould tied for Athlete of the Year, while Dominic Jacobs was named Male Athlete of the Year. Freshman Jadyn Smiley was named Freshman Athlete of the Year. She has been playing softball since she was little, and said athletes should never give up.

“Keep coming back, come to all the practices, put in all your effort, all your time, and I promise you, you’ll get to your achievements and you’ll do big things,” she said.

The nominees were selected by coaches then narrowed down by a select group who worked directly or closely with sports programs at the school. According to Scribner, the nomination process was a difficult one.

“We try to give the coaches enough time to evaluate their players and submit nominations, but we really need them in the voting room advocating for their players to win,” she said.
Scribner said the process took so long that the trophies were not ordered in time for the ceremony. Winners received certificates and trophies were handed out at a later date.

Senior (Class of 2019) Kendra Okoro goes up to bat against Juanita in the first round of district playoffs on May 13. The softball team finished with a 14-6 record, capping a historic season.

Staff reporter Katrina Nguyen contributed to the reporting of this story.