The Sammamish Totems received new uniforms, and attached to them were a few important messages.
Tuesday evening, the football team was presented the uniforms from a group of Totem alum. The uniforms came with a message of Totem pride, despite their win-loss record (0-6).
But it’s also something even bigger.
A group of former Sammamish athletes from the 1980s set out to honor their friend and teammate Mark Tevelde, the star quarterback from the 1986 team that beat rival Juanita.
Tevelde’s junior year (1986), he led the Sammamish football team to a win over Juanita, a team that had won 32-straight games, including back-to-back State championships.
During his senior year, between football and basketball season, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
“You didn’t know if you should treat him differently, treat him special,” close friend Mike Fauser said. “We watched him morph into a completely different person…Here’s a guy who had all the potential in the world.”
After living with schizophrenia for 10 years, Tevelde took his own life in October 1996 at the age of 26.
At what would have been Tevelde’s 20 year high school reunion, a group of alum, including Fauser, decided to organize a basketball game to pay tribute.
That grew into something bigger.
Last year, Fauser and his friends raised money to install a park bench at Spiritridge Park in Bellevue, where they had been playing their honorary basketball game for the past five years. Fauser said they raised around $5,000.
The park bench was installed, and where the rest of the money would go was decided by Tevelde’s parents, who chose the Mental Health Ministry at University Presbyterian Church.
Again, that grew into something even bigger.
About a month ago, Fauser approached friend and Totem alum Scott Weeden with the idea of designing commemorative football jerseys.
Weeden, founder of Saiphs Superior Athletic Wear, grew up with Tevelde, playing basketball, football and soccer with him. They were even locker partners from 7th grade, on.
Weeden didn’t think twice about doing the jerseys in such a short period of time. He even extended the order deadline because, according to him, it was just that important.
“Mark had such a positive impact on a lot of people,” Weeden said.
The jerseys include a patch honoring Tevelde.
That patch, placed over the heart of the jersey, is a silhouette of Tevelde throwing the ball – left-handed with a high release.
“It gives you the chills,” Weeden said. “That’s my guy on the jersey.”
As of Tuesday, Fauser said they had raised about $7,500 out of their $10,000 goal. The jerseys were presented to the team Tuesday night.
The message remained mostly positive.
“Our primary message was that the win loss record is insignificant in the big picture of what it means to be a Totem Football Player,” Fauser said. “We asked them to play hard, to give everything they have, and to have fun doing it.”
The fundraising for the Mental Health Ministry will continue Friday night when Sammamish takes on Juanita (3-3) for their Homecoming game – something done very much on purpose.
At halftime, Fauser said they will give a framed commemorative jersey to Tevelde’s parents, and another framed jersey to Sammamish High School.
“Years later, we remember our friend, he’s in our hearts,” Fauser said.
Visit the Saiphs online store to view the jersey and more commemorative apparel.
To read more about the Mark Tevelde Fund for Mental Health Ministry and see the fundraising progress, Mike Fauser set up a site.