By Dan Ninham (Oneida)
For the past thirty-five years, the United Tribes Technical College Thunderbirds have competed at the NJCAA level in men and women basketball. According to the website: "UTTC's goal is to recruit the very best Native American student-athletes from around the country and to showcase their athletic skills in the spotlight of competition."
The UTTC Thunderbirds men's basketball team are 7-4 and are almost into the holiday break. They have two more games tonight and tomorrow.
Tate Bear is a 6-5 freshman forward on the United Tribes Technical College basketball team. He is Meskwaki from Tama, IA and Sicangu Lakota from Rosebud, SD. His parents are Jarvis Bear, Meskwaki, Tama, IA and Tanksi Clairmont, Lakota-Dakota, Denver, CO.
Tate is averaging 14.8 ppg and 6.7 rpg playing 30 minutes a game at UTTC. His high school honors include Iowa Star Conference honorable mention, all-second team, all-first team, and all-elite team, and finalist for PrepHoops Iowa player of the week.
"I don't really know my tribal core beliefs in words," said Tate. "As a child they were always shown to me as an example or words and they were always reinforced in me as I grew older. So they always are with me wherever I go. Growing up I was always taught to just listen and watch and I've grown older that has helped me as a young man whether it be ceremony, a basketball drill, or watching a teacher do an example problem."
"Tate is one of those players coaches love because he leads by example and really understands the game well," said Pete Conway, AD and Head Men's Basketball Coach, UTTC. "He is able to play multiple positions on the court. He's not afraid to mix it up inside and is a really good shooter who continues to develop his perimeter skills. He puts in the necessary work outside of practice and in offseason so as he matures and his body develops he has the potential to be a very good player at the next level.
"His teammates all really looked up to him and he did a good job of trying to push them in the right direction," said cousin Vincent Lasley. "He's a good kid with a good head on his shoulders."
"As an athlete he leads by example," said Garrett Bear, head boy's basketball coach, Meskwaki High School and Tate's uncle. "Could be more of a vocal leader. He tries to contribute in every aspect in order to win. Has played a lot inside, out of position but did it for the good of the team. It made him well rounded, and he can play inside, outside, facing the basket and back to the basket. Hard matchup for bigger players due to his skill set and speed also for guards due to his length and the amount of time playing closer to the basket. Tate is just a flat out basketball player. As a nephew he is family-, community- and culturally-oriented. Strong ties and active in all those aspects. He is continually trying to improve his skills and to do things the right way. He is a kid you don't have to worry about on and off the court."
"I'm just a kid from the middle of Iowa living my dream of playing collegiate basketball and making friends while I'm at it," said Tate.
Photo Credit: Luann Poitra