First Family of Sports Award-Detail

Supporting youth & sports since 1942.

First Family of Sports Award-Detail
First Family of Sports Award-Detail

The Shelton Family

    When Al and Shari first came to Tacoma in 1984, fresh out of family practice residency, they had three little boys. Aaron was 4, Aubrey 2, and there was baby Ben.

    Al was young and idealistic, taking a job with the Puyallup Tribe in their small clinic, and deciding to live near his work on the Eastside and sending their kids to public school. "We wanted to be involved in the community," he recalls.

    Their realtor would not show them houses in that part of town so they found one themselves, just off Portland Avenue on 34th Street, where they still live today. It had a big yard where they built a basketball court and the large living room became a gym on rainy days. It was a family thing to be involved in sports, and as the kids kept coming (six in nine years) they all got involved in football, basketball, and baseball through the Eastside Boys and Girls Club.

    Shari kept track of the schedules which became rather complicated after Austin, and then the twins, Kaleb and Karina, joined the family. "We tried to have several kids on each team to make things less complicated," she says, and so there was always someone playing in an older age division. She also had to keep track of music lessons - piano and an instrument for each - and there soon was a family band playing at their church and other events.

    The family's love of sports started with Al, who won the 'Outstanding Athlete Award' in 1972, his senior year at Christian Academy in Japan. His parents taught in a seminary near Tokyo. He was starting guard on the Far East championship team and set an assist record that lasted more than 20 years. His real gift, however, was running, and he was the league champion in cross country and in the half mile and mile during his sophomore and senior years. He attended Seattle Pacific University on a track scholarship but had a foot injury in the fall of his freshman year, so consequently spent more time with the books and ended up going to medical school.

    Given Al's background and highly competitive nature, it was only natural that the Shelton children were encouraged to play sports. As they grew, Al coached basketball at the Boys and Girls Club for five years, winning multiple city tournaments. He then formed and coached an AAU basketball team named the Tacoma Knights, winning many tournaments locally and regionally and even taking several teams to national tournaments over a period of 10 years. He also has been the team physician for the Lincoln Abes basketball program for the last 20 years. One of his favorite memories is sitting on the bench with the Lincoln team at the state championships.

    While not involved in organized sports, Shari enjoyed sledding, biking, and hiking in the mountains near Ketchikan, Alaska, her childhood home. She also claimed the title "Coach" in the music arena, driving the kids to their many lessons and making sure all of them practiced. The same held true for their academics, as she had the joy of having Aubrey, Ben, Austin, Kaleb, and Karina in her journalism and creative writing classes at Gault Middle School. She still gets teased for once giving Austin his only A-. "While I was never in organized sports, I feel as if I had a great hand in our children's success in sports, academics, and music. All did very well in school. Austin even was the valedictorian at Lincoln. "They have been a very fun, sweet, and lively bunch to raise, and have all been a blessing to us," Shari said. She was quick to add, "It wasn't always easy, though, and we were always thankful for the support of our extended family, and our church family, helping us in many vital ways."

    Aaron, the oldest, paved the way for his siblings, lettering in three sports at Lincoln High. In tennis he played first doubles in 1998 and first singles in 1999, the latter year winning the coach's award. He was the baseball team MVP in 1999 and still remembers the thrill of blasting a home run out of Heidelberg Field into the Safeway parking lot one beautiful spring day. In basketball he was a two-year letterman on teams that went to state, including the 1998-99 team that placed fourth at state. He later had the distinction of winning the intramural basketball championship at both University of Washington and the University of California. He started the family tradition of playing at Spokane Hoopfest and has won a divisional championship si xout of the 12 years that he has played there.

    Aaron works in the Human Resources Department at the Emerald Queen Casino and directs the employee appreciation events. Naturally, he plays on their basketball and slow pitch teams. He married Kristine Rolstad, who was a basketball and volleyball player at Bethel. They have two children, 6-year-old Aiden and 4-year-old Abby. When not playing a mean tenor sax, Aaron enjoys a round of golf, occasionally playing with his father in tournaments. Two years ago in a Cascade Cup Tournament at Washington National Golf Course, Aaron won the longest drive award while Al won the straightest drive award. Aubrey was a four-year letterman in basketball at Lincoln High, awarded All-Narrows second team in 1999 and 2000, and first team in 2001. Twice a team captain, he was the starting post player on the state championship team in 2001.

    Aubrey went to University of Puget Sound where as a freshman he averaged 20 points per game and was named to the All-Northwest Conference Team and NCAA Division III Freshman All-America Team. His junior and senior seasons, the team won back to back conference titles and advanced to the NCAA Division III "Sweet Sixteen." In his junior year he scored his 1000th career point in a win at PLU. When he graduated from UPS he was in the record book as being in the top 10 in scoring, free throw percentage, attempts, makes, and in games played. While at UPS he won the Tim McDonough Award for Service and Leadership.

    Aubrey has been coaching basketball at Lincoln High since 2008 when his youngest brother, Kaleb, was a senior, and the team went 25-5, won he district tournament and placed fourth at state. He has had a remarkable coaching career at Lincoln. In just seven seasons he has compiled a 144-44 record, won the Narrows League four times, the West Central District five times, advanced to the "Sweet Sixteen" six times, and placed third (2013) and fourth (2008) at state. He has been named Narrows Coach of the Year three times, ('08, '10, '11), and was named News Tribune All-Area Coach of the Year in 2008. He is very proud that 98 percent of his players have graduated and most have gone on to college.

    Like all of his brothers, Aubrey still plays basketball. He was part of the family team that won the Hoopfest Family Division three years in a row. He was tournament MVP in leading the team of brothers to victory in 2011 in the Elite Men's Division. He is a social studies teacher at Lincoln High and married Courtney (Knippel) Shelton, who also is a Hoopfest champion and was captain of the Rogers Rams basketball team that made it to state in 2001. They met at UPS, just had their first child, Claire, and are both accomplished musicians, Courtney on the violin and Aubrey on the piano. They have spent a lot of time playing music together for events, weddings, concerts, and their own band gigs.

    Aubrey says the biggest highlights of his athletic career are winning state in 2001 as a player, being a part of the team that turned UPS from an average program into a national powerhouse, coaching his brother in 2008, beating #1 ranked Federal Way in the 2010 District Championship after being down 21 points in the 4th quarter, and winning the Elite Hoopfest Division Championship in 2011 with his brothers.

    Ben was arguably the most decorated high school athlete of the family, even winning the coveted Tacoma Athletic Commission Athlete of the Year in 2003. He played all four years on varsity in basketball, was starting varsity quarterback for three years, and was MVP and All-Narrows his senior year on the baseball team. In basketball he played on Coach Tim Kelly's back-to-back state championship teams, in 2001 with his brother Aubrey, and in 2002 as team captain and all-state tournament honoree. He remembers outscoring Brandon Roy in the state semifinals game against Garfield, 24-18, in a game Lincoln won by 13. The next year as a senior he was MVP and First Team All-Narrows, and led the team to the quarterfinals of the state tourney.

    In football there were more awards. Ben was quarterback, captain, and All-Narrows League all three years. As a senior he was a Wendy's All-America candidate, a Blue Chip athlete, and led Lincoln to its best record in 28 years (8-2), tying for second place in a playoff in the Narrows League. He remembers accounting for four touchdowns in a 27-24 road victory over Capital, which ended up taking second in state. He was awarded 2003 Lincoln High School Athlete of the Year and received an athletic scholarship to play football at Western Washington University where he earned three varsity letters. He played quarterback for the local semi-pro Tacoma Invaders for two years, leading the team in total yards and touchdowns, before breaking several ribs and ending his football career.

    Ben then began his coaching career at Roosevelt High while completing his master's in education at Seattle Pacific. He assisted on the varsity team that made it to the state playoffs in 2009. The last three years he has coached basketball and football at Stewart Middle School, where he is also the physical education and health teacher. He has an overall combined boys and girls basketball record of 39-7. This year his varsity boys had an undefeated season and won the first boys basketball city championship in school history. As a special teams and quarterback coach for the 2013 Stewart football team, he helped lead the Panthers to win the city championship in the first year as tackle football returned to Tacoma middle schools.

    Ben is married to Laura who is the daughter of Al's friend from high School who was the point guard on Al's championship team. They have a 2-year-old son, Bennett, and are expecting a baby girl in June. Ben's favorite sports memories include winning the Hoopfest overall Elite Championship against former Division I athletes in 2011, made special because the team was made up of four brothers, a first for that tournament. Austin, the fourth son, also played basketball, and as a sophomore was on the team with Ben that went to state in 2003. He remembers subbing in for Ben, who had already scored 17 points at the end of a game that was no longer close. He made a free throw in the last minute and often commented how his highlight at the state tournament was combining with his brother for 18 points. He lettered two years and was team captain his senior year. Austin's true athletic gift in high school mirrored that of his father - running. He lettered four years in track and ran the anchor leg on the 4X400 relay team that competed at the state meet. His 1200-meter leg in the distance medley relay is part of a school record at Lincoln, and in cross country he was the team's top runner and team captain. Austin continues to run and has entered several half marathons and recently took first place out of 515 runners in the Husky vs. Cougar Rivalry Clash 5K in October 2013.

    Austin also lettered two years in football at Lincoln High, and as a senior was the Tacoma Athletic Commission Finalist for Student-Athlete of the Year for the National Football Foundation and the College Hall of Fame. Because of his stellar endurance, Austin played on both the championship team in 2011 at Spokane Hoopfest, and also joined Aaron, Karina, and Al to win the Co-ed Family Division. Austin attended WSU as a Distinguished Regents Scholar, went on to Pacific Northwest University Medical School, and is now a resident at the newly formed family practice residency at the Puyallup Tribal Health Authority where Al is Clinical Director. It is no longer a small clinic but a large organization with more than 200 employees providing health care for the Native Americans in Pierce County.

    Austin is engaged to marry Crystal Martin in September. Crystal was a three-sport varsity athlete at Liberty High School in Renton and rowed for four years at Washington State. She was team captain in 2012, the year the 12th-ranked Cougars went to national championships. Austin and Crystal were the 2-on-2 Co-ed basketball championship team at WSU. Austin also is a concert pianist and plays alto saxophone in the family band and at church.

    Growing up going to her big brother's sporting events, Karina naturally got involved in sports at an early age. She played on Kaleb's kindergarten through third grade basketball teams. She played at Lincoln as well and recalls that as a sophomore she was brought up from junior varsity to play in the post-season. In one of the state tournament games, star player Alex Montgomery got fouled and came out with an injury, and Karina went in to shoot the free throws. She made one, and thanks to that, all of the Shelton kids have scored in the WIAA basketball state tournament.

    An outside and middle hitter, she was Lincoln's co-captain two years, MVP her senior year and honorable mention all-league. Karina's best sport, however, was golf, in which she was team MVP all four years. The first golfer from Lincoln High to make it to the state tournament, Karina went on to play golf at Pacific Lutheran where she was team captain in 2012. She remembers the challenge of weather as a golfer in Tacoma, telling of an event where it rained, snowed, hailed, and was sunny, all in a period of 18 holes. Karina is a Promotions Coordinator at the Emerald Queen Casino. She plays flute and enjoys international travel. In the magical year of 2011 she was on the family team that won the Hoopfest Family Division. She is now getting into coaching as well, helping coach the Lincoln High volleyball team this year. One of her favorite sports memories is being on the court as a "sweeper" during Aubrey and Ben's state championship basketball game in 2001.

    Kaleb, Karina's twin, is well known to the Tacoma Athletic Commission as he was awarded the Dick Hannula Amateur Athlete of the Year Award two years ago. He was born 14 minutes after Karina, so is the youngest of the Shelton kids. He played football and baseball up through middle school, but in high school, basketball was his game. Although he attended School of the Arts in Tacoma focusing on his piano talents, he played basketball at Lincoln.

    Kaleb started on varsity all four years, scored more than 1,000 career points, was all-league, and with older brother Aubrey as coach, helped lead Lincoln to a fourth place finish at the 2008 state tournament. Following in Aubrey's footsteps, Kaleb had quite a career at UPS, in his senior year leading the 20-win Loggers to the Northwest Conference tournament championship game. He was the captain and a first team All-Northwest Conference selection, as well earning Academic All-District First Team recognition. Kaleb was honored to win the Ben Cheney Award as the university's Outstanding Male Athlete of the Year. Kaleb, like Karina, also has a fond memory that as a 12-year-old he was a "sweeper" stationed under the basket at the state tournament in the Tacoma Dome during one of Ben's games. On one occasion Ben made a basket and winked at him! Another highlight was the West Central District championship victory over Bellarmine Prep, whose team included a future Division I player and a future professional player. He too, of course, revels in the elite men's 6-feet-and-over championship at Spokane's Hoopfest in 2011. "It was so awesome to be the first team from Tacoma, and the first group of brothers to win it." Kaleb is now in police academy in San Diego where he lives with his wife, Jazmin. They have a black lab named Kona and enjoy the sunshine and walking at the beach. Kaleb has put his musical talent to use by playing keyboard with other musicians at his church.

    As it turns out most of the Shelton family athletic story is about basketball and Lincoln High. Whether playing, coaching, cheering as a spectator, or helping as team physician, they have been closely involved at Lincoln for 20 years. There was a Shelton starting on the Lincoln basketball team for 10 consecutive years, and the following eight years Aubrey has been the coach. The Lincoln story, of course, includes Coach Kelly, Coach Williams, and two state championships.

    "What really counts are the relationships, shared experiences - both exhilarating wins and devastating losses - and the many achievements, all of which have each developed deep bonds within our family and with a whole host of friends," Al says. "We have been so blessed by all of these, and our lives so enriched."
    First Family of Sports Award-Detail
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