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Ahfachkee honors its student-athletes

BIG CYPRESS – The tide is turning in the right direction for sports at the Ahfachkee School.

Better grades, more school spirit and increased participation were among the talking points emphasized during the school’s sports banquet May 4 at the Herman L. Osceola Gymnasium.

“We’re proud of everything you’ve done,” Principal Dorothy Cain told the student-athletes.

It was only a couple years ago when the school’s athletic programs were mostly dormant due to lack of interest and/or poor grades, but the Warriors – with new leadership – have experienced a resurgence lately both on the courts and fields and in the classrooms. Five teams (cross country, boys basketball, girls basketball, track and field, and volleyball) now comprise the school’s athletic menu.

Student-athletes from each team were recognized for their participation; some were awarded trophies for most valuable player, sportsmanship, and up and coming.

Among all the examples of excellence who made their way to the stage, two shined above others for the year’s biggest awards. Timothy Tigertail earned the Scholar Athlete Award and Jeremiah Pickup was named Athlete of the Year.

Before Cain and Athletic Director/coach Matt Beckham handed out trophies and other accomplishment awards, the students heard from guest speaker Essie Hollis, who played basketball for St. Bonaventure University in New York and was selected by the New Orleans Jazz in the second round of the 1977 NBA Draft. Hollis played one season for the Detroit Pistons and also played professionally overseas. These days Hollis, 63, is a Spanish and physical education teacher in Broward County Public Schools and serves as an assistant coach for the Pine Crest School varsity boys basketball team.

At 6-foot-6, Hollis delivered a message that came through loud and clear.

“Get your education. Education is the most important part of your life,” he told the students.

Hollis said his basketball experience as a teenager – which included spending an average of 15 or 16 hours per day on the courts during one summer – helped open several academic doors, including scholarship offers from Indiana, North Carolina and UCLA. He picked St. Bonaventure to stay close to his family in the Northeast. After his speech and the awards ceremony, Hollis signed autographs for the students during lunch.

Ahfachkee presented an appreciation award to Big Cypress Councilman Mondo Tiger. The school’s parent-teacher-student organization also gave awards to the student-athletes.


Scholar Athlete of the Year: Timothy Tigertail
Athlete of the Year: Jeremiah Pickup

Cross Country
Head coach: Matt Beckham
Asst. coach: Gualberto Mollings
Team: Anthony Avalos, Alonie Gore, Franklin Jumper, Gordon Jumper
Up and Coming Award: Anthony Avalos
Most Valuable Player: Franklin Jumper

Head coach: Miliani Quinsaat
Asst. coach: Alicia Richards
Team: Thomlynn Billie, Mya Cypress, Crystal Garcia, Leilani Gopher, Alexis Gore, Alonie Gore, Aniya Gore, Mariah Smith, Abigail Tigertail
Up and Coming Award: Thomlynn Billie
Defensive MVP: Leilani Gopher
Offensive MVP: Mya Cypress

Boys Basketball
Head coach: Cicero Osceola
Asst. coach: Greg Carter
Team: Anthony Alvalos, Mauro Avalos, Cordell Baxter, Leviticus Buster, Les Gopher, Franklin Jumper, Gordon Jumper, Romeo Jumper-Garcia, Jeremiah Pickup, Abraham Tigertail, Tim Tigertail
Sportsmanship Award: Les Gopher
Up and Coming Award: Gordon Jumper
Defensive MVP: AJ Tigertail
Offensive MVP: Jeremiah Pickup

Girls Basketball
Head coach: Eddie Redd
Asst. coach: Miliani Quinsaat
Team: Thomlynn Billie, Billie Cypress, Mya Cypress, Alexis Gore, Alonie Gore, Aniya Gore, Leilani Gopher, Keithana Osceola-Onco, Mariah Smith, Abigail Tigertail
Sportsmanship Award: Thomlynn Billie
Up and Coming Award: Alonie Gore
Defensive MVP: Leilani Gopher
Offensive MVP: Abigail Tigertail

Track and Field
Head coach: Matt Beckham
Asst. coach: Michael Daniels
Team: Alonie Gore, Gordon Jumper, Jeremiah Pickup, Abigail Tigertail
Up and Coming Award: Jeremiah Pickup
Most Valuable Player: Gordon Jumper

Student-Athlete Academic Recognition
These student-athletes were recognized for maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher during the 2017-18 school year while maintaining their commitment to their teams:
Cordell Baxter, Thomlynn Billie, Leviticus Buster, Billie Cypress, Crystal Garcia, Leilani Gopher, Les Gopher, Alexis Gore, Alonie Gore, Aniya Gore, Franklin Jumper, Romeo Jumper-Garcia, Jeremiah Pickup, Abigail Tigertail, AJ Tigertail, Timothy Tigertail

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Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at

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