Young Tribal member throws out first pitch at Mariners game

Young Tribal member throws out first pitch at Mariners game

By Hailey Palmer, Puyallup Tribal News

A young Puyallup Tribal member had a day to remember Mother’s Day weekend out in Seattle.

Every year, the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families partners with the Mariners for We Are Family Day, an event that celebrates the foster, kinship and adoptive families in the state.

Tribal member Niko Arquette, 8, who is in out-of-home care, had the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at the Seattle Mariners game against the Oakland Athletics on May 12 as part of the partnership between DCYF and the team.

Niko was nominated for the honor by his foster parents, Jesse and Lani Martin.

He was the first Tribal dependent child ever chosen by DCYF to throw out the first pitch, and he was well aware of the significance.

“It’s very awesome,” Niko said.

A huge Mariners fan, Niko was notified in a surprise announcement at his school last month, where staff wore Mariners gear and he was given a jersey with his name on the back.

“We were kind of keeping it a secret for a good three weeks, and I think that was the hardest thing for us because we were excited for him,” Lani said. “We finally told him at school and he was completely shocked and overwhelmed.”

In the weeks leading up to his big day, Niko spent a lot of his extra time practicing his windup for the big day.

When it came time to take the field, Niko showed no fear of the crowd of more than 41,000 people as he jogged out to the mound. He even made time for some crowd work, making sure he turned around and waved to everyone in the ballpark before firing off the pitch to his foster dad, Jesse.

Brave enough to throw from the mound, Niko’s pitch was met with a roar of applause from the crowd before he ran off to take a picture with the Mariner Moose.

“It was so much fun,” Niko said. “I’m one of (the Mariners’) biggest fans. If (the first pitch) is on TV I’m totally watching it.”

Niko was joined on the field by Jesse, Lani, his sisters and Puyallup Tribal Councilman James Rideout, with plenty more friends and family watching from the crowd.