Humboldt lacrosse alum helps Vashon Vultures carry on winning ways

Tristan Carbery

On a cold, wet day late this May, the Vashon Vultures flew high, winning the 2019 Washington state 1A/2A lacrosse championship — the third in school history.

Pacing the sidelines during the dramatic 4-3 win, was Tristan Carbery — an assistant coach with the Vultures and Humboldt Hogs alumni.

The Vashon Vultures outscored opponents in the regular season 169-45, on the way to its 2019 state lacrosse championship.

Carbery was a sophomore when Vashon won its last championship 14 years ago, and one of three players from that squad to help out this year’s team. Trailing 2-0 at halftime, Carbery said the Vultures had to dig deep and not let their nerves get the best of them during the title match.

“I think what was most telling was this was actually the first game in our entire season that we were trailing at halftime or really at all,” he said. “To be down in the biggest game of our season really demonstrated the heart of this team and their willingness to hang in there, keep fighting and just know that once we scored that first one we would remember what it is we did best this whole season — and that was score goals.”

While he doesn’t get to play as much as he would like, Carbery said lacrosse will always be a part of his life and is definitely his favorite sport.

“For me, I think it’s the perfect blend of physicality and finesse,” Carbery said. “I grew up playing all sports — soccer and baseball and wrestling and pretty much everything I could play — but for me, lacrosse is the perfect blend of physicality, finesse, a team sport. I just love the fast pace of the game and how quickly it changes.”

You were on a state championship team with Vashon in 2005. Does winning it all this time feel the same, or is it different now for you?

It felt more special I think back when I won it just because of my life experience and everything that I had done up to that point.

I was a sophomore at the time and to win state — it was a massive deal. It meant a lot to me to be a part of that team. Coming back this year, given our whole season and how we went 15-1… It really felt like — to me — it was supposed to be. We were the better team and once we settled into that second half of the state championship game, we really showed the kind of team that we were.

How did you end up at Humboldt and joining the team?

I actually joined the team in 2007 just kind of by accident. I showed up one day and they were practicing in the Field House and I was like, ‘Oh wow, you guys have a team.’ They were actually in midseason I believe at that point or something because I remember like I showed up in the beginning of the week or midweek and that weekend we were traveling up to Portland to — I think it was Portland — to play a game. So I joined the team and like three or four days later I was playing my first game as a Hog. It was cool. We were a little team. We were scrappy. Oftentimes we would show up with 11 people, just enough to field a team — maybe we would have a sub and that would have been a good day. But we played together. We had a lot of heart, we had a lot of fun more than anything else, so yeah I definitely look back fondly on my years as a Humboldt Hog.

What’s your favorite lacrosse moment as a Hog? Or otherwise?

I think some of my fondest memories as a Hog would have to be just the camaraderie and the shenanigans we got into during our away games. We didn’t have a lot of wins under our belt for the first few seasons but we had a lot of fun traveling and going to these other places — having a van full lacrosse players and just kind of going out and having fun and playing the game that we all loved… Those are probably my favorite moments just hanging with the team, traveling to all these different places

Can you talk about seeing players like Luke Jensen pick up a stick for the first time? What can you tell us about him as a teammate and a friend?
Luke Jensen (left) with Tristan

We had a lot of first-year players on the team when I joined Humboldt. Luke Jensen was actually my roommate through most of college. He was first my roommate in the freshman dorms. Then we got an apartment in the second and third year, so I definitely was pretty influential in having him join the team and coaching him throughout the season.

It was really something special to be able to take these athletes that had never played lacrosse before and get them excited and teach them the game. For me, being a very intellectual and coach-minded type person, I’ve always been drawn to the coaching aspect of things and at Humboldt I really got a great opportunity to step into that role as kind of an assistant coach/player. It was really something special to be able to coach up guys like Luke and all the other first-time players and really kind of play that role of assistant coach as well as a player. Luke was a great guy, one of my best friends all through college and was just a really great teammate, really really nice guy. That goes for a lot of the guys on the team but me and Luke definitely had a lot of good times together.

What are you up to now?

Currently, I’m doing a number of different things. I moved back to the Seattle area to start working for a startup company three years ago that works in healthcare informatics. The mission statement is to really institutionalize integrative medicine and holistic medicine. I also work part-time as a personal trainer at the local athletic club in my hometown and I also work for a nonprofit that does nature-based rites of passage and mentorship for young men in our community. And obviously, I also coach lacrosse when it’s in season as well.

What does lacrosse mean to you?

Lacrosse means a lot to me. I did a paper on the history of lacrosse when I was a freshman in college. I did a lot of research into the roots of lacrosse and how all the different native tribes throughout the Americas all had their own version of a stick and ball game. How they used it not only for fun and games, but they used it more for training their warriors. They used it to settle land or resource disputes. They used it as a very spiritual thing and I definitely feel very called to that. I am fortunate enough to be connected with some First Nations people and some communities in my current life and I just feel very called to the essence of the game, the deeper roots of what it really means and where it came from. I feel very called to that and it means a lot to me to be able to continue that. And now as a coach, I’m honored to be able to pass along the little bit of knowledge that I’ve gained so far to young ones that are aspiring to be better lacrosse players, and if I can coach some mentorship in there and help them develop as young men — I enjoy doing that as well.