Ta-Tes Boulby, a seventh-grader at Redwood Elementary School, signed up for football for the first time this past fall.
It was a change of pace from wrestling, Ta-Tes’ preferred sport, the one he was born to compete in. Ta-Tes played defensive end for the Del Norte Youth Football AA Blue Warriors. “I like the hitting,” Ta-Tes says.
At the beginning of the season, football was not kind to Ta-Tes.
“The very first game, they lost and they didn’t score a point,” Boulby’s father, Del Norte Youth Wrestling coordinator Roger Boulby recalls.
Ta-Tes wanted to quit the sport immediately afterward. Roger asked him why.
“This sucks. I just want to win,” Roger recalls Ta-Tes saying.
“I think he just likes doing (individual) sports,” Roger says.
Ta-Tes’ self-reliance shines through on the wrestling mat. He has been wrestling for 10 years, under the tutelage of his father; while his exact record is difficult to quantify, he is believed to have lost tens of sanctioned matches and won hundreds of matches.
This season alone, he went undefeated in Redwood Empire Wrestling Association competition and finished seventh in the Schoolboy (born 1999–2000) 136-pound division at the California USA Wrestling Kids Freestyle State Championships, held May 31–June 2 in Fresno. He will compete at the West Kids Regional — Freestyle championships on June 16–22 in Pocatello, Idaho.
Ta-Tes (his name means “red-tailed hawk” in the Yurok language) travels on a well-marked path.
His older half-brother is Roger “Bronc” McCovey, a two-time California state champion at heavyweight (285 pounds) for Del Norte High. His brother Robert is a junior wrestler for the Warriors with two Humboldt-Del Norte League championships to his name.
“He’s got that shadow (over him), but he does a good job,” says Del Norte junior wrestler Eric Turner, who has practiced with Ta-Tes.
Ta-Tes’ main weapon, according to those who have watched and practiced with him, is his foot speed on the mat. He is able to escape from or reverse any holds due to the speed and leverage he possesses and the experience he has gained from attending regional meets and practicing with high-school athletes.
“He’s a strong kid,” Turner says. “He knows what he’s doing. He’s more of a real defensive wrestler. He uses other people’s movements to get to where he wants to be.”
As an eighth-grader this coming fall, he is in an awkward position. Not yet able to join the high-school Warriors, Ta-Tes and Roger must travel extensively to find competition.
“I know locally, he has a hard time getting matches,” says Clint Schaad, assistant coach of the Del Norte High wrestling team, who has known Roger Boulby for many years. “He’s head and shoulders above the competition (in the Redwood Empire). By going well up into Oregon, to Idaho, he’s searching for kids that’ll push him and make him better.”
The soft-spoken Ta-Tes is 5-foot-6, all sinew. His goals within the sport are as lofty as his background may suggest.
“I really want to be the league champ for all my years here (at Del Norte High),” Ta-Tes says. “You have to train hard (and not) quit.”