It’s All Relative: Whatcom Hoops Are Family Affairs

Having grown up as a military brat with our closest relatives 2,500 miles away and only knowing one teammate before joining my high school team,* I’ve been amazed at how close the family ties are in Whatcom County sports.

Almost every season you have parents coaching children, siblings playing with each other, and cousins galore on the same team. 

This seems to be especially true this year with our Whatcom varsity basketball teams. Perhaps the best example is Lynden Christian.

The Lyncs’ legacy goes back several generations to Glen and Alice Dykstra. Glen, of course, helped Lynden Christian win its first basketball state title in 1976, and their children — Shannon, Greg, and Grant — each won state titles in basketball or football.

This year there are two Dykstras coaching— Grant on the boys’ staff and sister-in-law Kelly on the girls’ — and five Dykstra cousins playing for the Lyncs: Grant’s sons Griffin (a senior) and Gannon (sophomore), Kelly’s daughters Demi (senior) and Danya (sophomore), and Shannon’s son Lane (senior).

If those weren’t enough relations, the Lynden Christian boys have two more father-son pairings. Head coach Tim Zylstra and assistant Brian Sipma — themselves LC alums — are coaching their senior sons, Dexter and Tyler.

Lynden Christian isn’t the only school with family connections on the basketball court. Here are our Whatcom programs that have either parents and children, siblings, or first cousins on their varsity teams. (And if you see any we’re missing, let us know.) 


BELLINGHAM GIRLS: head coach James Wolverton and daughter Ellie Wolverton (senior)

FERNDALE BOYS: assistant coach Ray Ootsey and son Bishop Ootsey (junior)

FERNDALE GIRLS: sisters Madisyn Butenschoen (senior) and Mallory Butenschoen (junior)

LUMMI NATION BOYS: head coach Jerome Toby and son Jerome Toby Jr. (freshman), assistant coach Kevin Day and son Landon Day (junior)

LUMMI NATION GIRLS: assistant coach David James and daughter Jemma James (eighth-grader), sisters Keyonee Morris (junior) and Makaya Morris (freshman), first cousins Aliesha Solomon (senior) and Raven Solomon (senior)

LYNDEN BOYS; assistant coach Mike Elsner and son Brady Elsner (junior), assistant coach Blake VanDalen and son Weston VanDalen (junior), assistant coach Brian Heppner and son Brant Heppner (sophomore)

LYNDEN GIRLS: sisters Adia Newcomb (senior) and Kalanie Newcomb (junior)

LYNDEN CHRISTIAN BOYS: assistant coach Grant Dykstra and sons Griffin Dykstra (senior) and Gannon Dykstra (sophomore) and nephew Lane Dykstra (senior); head coach Tim Zylstra and son Dexter Zylstra (senior); assistant coach Brian Sipma and son Tyler Sipma (senior)

LYNDEN CHRISTIAN GIRLS: assistant coach Kelly Dykstra and daughters Demi Dykstra (senior) and Danya Dykstra (sophomore)

MERIDIAN BOYS: assistant coach Jackson Short and brother Alex Short (junior)

MERIDIAN GIRLS: sisters Avery Neal (senior) and Kinsley Neal (freshman)

MOUNT BAKER BOYS: head coach Tony Clark and nephew Tanner Clark (assistant coach), brothers Kaden Hill (senior) and Carter Hill (freshman)

MOUNT BAKER GIRLS: head coach Tiffany Ramirez and sister Danielle Tyler (assistant coach) and father Dan Tyler (assistant coach)

NOOKSACK VALLEY GIRLS: assistant coach Dennis Anderson (father) and Kaylee Anderson (daughter), first cousins Taylor Lentz (senior) and Lainey Kimball (junior)

NOOKSACK VALLEY: sister Taylor Lentz (senior) and brother Colton Lentz (sophomore)

SEHOME BOYS: first cousins Grey Garrison (senior) and Grant Kepley (senior)

SEHOME GIRLS: assistant coach Andy Hart and daughter Emmy Hart (junior), sisters Mac (senior) and Madi Cooper (junior)

SQUALICUM BOYS: assistant coach Matthew Nixon and son Marcus Nixon (sophomore), brothers Nick Watt (senior) and Zach Watt (freshman)

SQUALICUM GIRLS: assistant coach Reed Richardson and daughter Caitlyn Richardson (junior)

SQUALICUM: brother Kyle Heaton (senior) and sister Makayla Heaton (junior)

* Our team won a Washington 4A state championship yet not one of the 15 players was born in the state of Washington. Yeah, weird.

Whatcom Hoops January-24-2023
From left: Danya Dykstra, Demi Dykstra, Kelly Dykstra, Lane Dykstra, Grant Dykstra, Griffin Dykstra, Tim Zylstra, Dexter Zylstra, Brian Sipma, Gannon Dykstra, Tyler Sipma
Jim Carberry of Whatcom Hoops

Jim Carberry is a former Bellingham Herald sports editor and author of several books on Whatcom County prep basketball. Follow him on Twitter @whatcomhoops and visit the Whatcom Hoops Facebook page.

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