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Totems sporting new football uniforms recognizing one of school's fallen heroes | Prep football feature
When Scott Weeden thinks back to his days in Bellevue and at Sammamish High School, he remembers the friendships.
From his days at Spiritridge Elementary to time spent playing football with the local Boys' Club, Weeden can't help but recall the bonds he built during those early years.
None were stronger than the one he formed with Mark Tevelde.
"He was a unique individual," Weeden said. "Just one of those kids that seemed to do the right thing."
The two met as youngsters at Spiritridge and went on to become Totems together in the late 1980s, Tevelde continuing on the path of standout athlete and Weeden finding his own niche in the student body away from the playing field.
For most, the lasting memory of Tevelde came during his junior season as quarterback of the Totems, in a Homecoming football game that still lives in KingCo and state prep sports lore.
Decades before Bellevue came to prominence, wiping away state records and collecting state title trophies for hobby, Juanita was the most recognized prep program in the area. The Rebels captured back-to-back 4A state titles in 1984 and 85 and would make it back to the title game in 1986, garnering a national ranking from USA Today at one point.
The Rebels, which entered the year on a 26 game winning streak, won their first six games of the 1986 season to push the streak to 32 and again looked the part of a dominant state title favorite when they headed to face an unheralded Sammamish squad in the Totems' homecoming game.
"There was a mystique Juanita had," Weeden said, likening their aura at the time to that of the current Wolverines, winners of the past six 3A state crowns.
But in 1986, Sammamish had one thing Juanita didn't: Mark Tevelde.
After trailing 14-0 early on, Tevelde and the Totems rallied to tie the game at 14 and send it to overtime, where they won 21-14 to give the program one of its most memorable moments on the gridiron along with the 3A state title game run in 1999. For Sammamish, the win was a historical achievement, garnering praise from all corners of Washington's prep football scene and for Weeden, it was the lasting image of his days as a Totem.
But for Mark Tevelde, it was but a fleeting moment in an otherwise tragic tale.
During the next season, as a senior, Tevelde began exhibiting signs of possible mental illness.
He and Weeden remained close after graduation, Tevelde even visiting Weeden at college on the East Coast after he was diagnosed with schizophrenia after his final year at Sammamish. In just a year's time, Weeden could see the toll the illness had taken on his once-upbeat friend.
"He was struggling with it," Weeden said. "I had never seen anyone go from this pinnacle to struggling. That was tough to see."
Tevelde would not be able to continue his fight with the condition, taking his own life in 1996 and leaving behind a lasting legacy of friendship and teamwork. Friends and family have played basketball games in his honor and even placed a bench in Spiritridge Park to commemorate one of the places he was most fond of.
But on Friday, Weeden will bring Tevelde's memory home to Sammamish High School in the most fitting way possible.
Just as they did in 1986, with Tevelde at the helm and an underdog mentality fueling the locker room, Sammamamish will take the field Friday against Juanita for the homecoming football game. And while they will not be facing a group with a national ranking, and enter the game winless on the year themselves, Tevelde will not be far from the consciousness. Instead, he will be standing proudly on their chests.
Weeden and his uniform and apparel company Saiphs provided the Totems with commemorative uniforms for the game, complete with a patch memorializing Tevelde. The team was given the new uniforms after practice this week and had the chance to listen to three of Tevelde's other teammates from the 1986 team talk about the game, the man and the memories they created before his tragic death.
"Just to be part of this is thrilling," Weeden said. "To be able to do a special jersey and uniform commemorating that team and have a childhood friend on there, it gave me the chills."
Saiphs is offering customized jerseys for fans, along with polo shirts and athletic shirts that also have the Tevelde patch, and is donating all proceeds above the cost of the uniforms (which were provided to the Totems without a cost to the school) to the Mental Health Ministry at University Presbyterian in Seattle, where Mark was a patient.
For current players like junior Ben Friedman, the connection to the history and story of Tevelde are palpable.
"If they could do it years ago in a Sammamish jersey against a huge team, we can do it now," he said. "It just makes us feel more connected to the history of the program and school."
Contribute to the Legacy
More than $7,000 has already been raised and Donations to the Mental Health Ministry at University Presbyterian can be made online at https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/cZfk5 and Sammamish fans can also purchase commemorative apparel and jerseys like those worn by the Totems in the Homecoming game.
The jerseys the Totems will wear, from Saiphs. JOSH SUMAN, BELLEVUE REPORTER
Sammamish players were able to listen to three of Tevelde's teammates after a practice leading up to the game. JOSH SUMAN, BELLEVUE REPORTER