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TCC Basketball Alumn Achieves His Dream at TCC and Beyond

TCC Basketball Alumn Achieves His Dream at TCC and Beyond imagePosted: 5/13/2010 1:58:00 PM

Rachi Wortham's mom was very serious about academics. Says Rachi: "She would tell us: "Anyone can be average.""
Rachi, who graduated from Foss High School with honors in 2000 and from TCC on an athletic scholarship in 2003, remembers: "One time I had made all As, but also two Cs. It wasn't my coach who wouldn't let me play basketball -- it was my mother! I was really angry at her. But I never forgot the lesson."


Says Rachi's mom Clister "Cookie" Wortham: "He was on the honor roll from then on. Now he tells high school kids: "This is the one free thing you will have in your life. You have no excuse to not take advantage of it." Says Rachi: "Back then, I didn't understand my mom planting those seeds. But it paid off."

By any measure, Cookie Wortham's four kids are a successful bunch. The oldest, LaTasha, graduated from Western on an academic scholarship and now is on the congressional staff of U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks. Rachi attended TCC on a basketball scholarship then graduated from Eastern on an academic scholarship. He now has a master's degree from EWU and is an assistant coach there.

The two youngest Wortham girls followed in the footsteps of their older siblings. Harmony graduated from Clark Atlanta University and now works in the movie industry. Courtney is a Gates Millennium Scholar and will graduate from UW-Tacoma in June.
How does a single Mom with four kids living in one of Tacoma's roughest neighborhoods raise four successful adults?

"They say it takes a village," says Cookie. "There were times we had to go live with my parents. My dad would take off work to make sure everyone was in school. And La Tasha would sit down and do their homework with them. She excelled. They excelled."
It went beyond family...
Says Cookie, "Maybe my kids wouldn't have turned out the way they did without People's Center, Metro Parks, and the Boys & Girls Club. Other people kept my kids off the street."

Rachi agrees: "We all grew up in the heart of it, and we all made it out. We lived in a gang-riddled neighborhood where I had no father -- but lots of father figures. Some of those were basketball coaches... If it hadn't been for those places and those people, I promise on my life I wouldn't be where I am today."
TCC basketball coach Carl Howell turned out to be one of those people. He offered Rachi an athletic scholarship to TCC, and then guided him toward an academic scholarship at Eastern.

"I love that Coach Howell asked me to play basketball at TCC," says Rachi. "I knew a bunch of guys on the team that I grew up with. It was family right away." One was R-Jay Barsh, team captain in 2002 and now assistant coach at TCC. R-Jay and Rachi remain friends to this day.
Now it's Cookie's turn.
Says Cookie: "I planned to go to college - it just didn't happen. All the time my kids were growing up I preached 'School, school, school'. Now I need to practice what I preached."

This time it's her kids supporting her. "Rachi is always there for me and for his sisters. After all this time, he's still doing it. Only now he thinks I'm one of the kids!"
Getting started was the hardest. "After the first quarter, I knew there were a few things I needed to change -- like making time to study. But going back to school is one of the best decisions I've made in a long time," says Cookie.
Soon she could be the fifth Wortham with a college degree.

Story by the TCC Connection Newsletter

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