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On Track

Sports Feature

Written by: Lauren Hunsberger

Photos by: Inese Westcott

Bellevue Club member and standout track athlete Tali Rose Estes talks about what makes her name one to remember at just 12 years old.

Tali Rose Estes is only 12 years old, but she has been making headlines from the day she started running competitive track at 9. The 2018 season is no different.

In April, Tali Rose competed in the Fifth Annual V12 Invitational in Jacksonville, Florida, an elite national event in the outdoor track season, and she took home two silver medals in the 100 and 200 meter races. As the season continues, her coaches predict that “she is poised to have a special year running national times,” says Joe Estes, Tali Rose’s father and coach. “And we just got started.”

Joe brings plenty of athletic experience to the table. He played football at Southern Illinois University and briefly for the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers. After declining an offer to play on the World League, he turned to mixed martial arts and competed on an international stage.    

“I was young back then, late 20s, and it was a lot of fun, a great experience.” Joe says. “But at some point it was time for me to make a career decision; fighting wasn’t paying well back then.” So he quit professional sports, met his wife, Maria Stoodley, who was an elite sprinter, and they started a family. Tali Rose is his eldest daughter, and she took to sports right away.

“We knew Tali was going to be fast when she started racing and beating everyone on the playground, but we had no idea she was this fast,” Joe says. Both parents dedicate a lot of time to coaching and supporting Tali in her endeavors, but they also realized early on that her talents needed more direction than they could provide. Joe reached out to Colan Sewell, the coach and founder of the Sewell Institute of Speed in Kirkland. Sewell was hesitant to take such a young athlete, but Joe says all it took was one meeting.   

“I’m meant to be a sprinter,” Tali Rose says. “The way I run, my form, everything.” But she explains it has to do with much more than athletic pedigree or a knack for good form. She genuinely loves running fast.

“My dad played sports with me when I was younger, and I fell in love with everything. Anything athletic, I just love,” she says. However, it’s sprinting drills she finds herself practicing and perfecting in the hallways of her house or walking through the grocery store. “She’s a really fun kid,” Joe says of her passion for the sport.

Tali Rose is currently practicing on the track three days a week with two days of supplemental strength training, and all the hard work is paying off. She recalls one of her proudest moments occurring at a recent invitational that was held at Washington State University.

“She was running the 200, and on one side was a girl from Gonzaga and one from Central Washington on the other. And she beat those girls,” Joe says.

Tali Rose is the youngest girl to race in that particular invitational and is aware of her prowess, but she remains extremely humble about her accomplishments.

“It’s just inspiring to know that I’m at the level of all those collegiate athletes,” she says. “It’s been really fun to meet all these new people too.”

 Joe simply hopes that one day Tali Rose will end up in a similar position. “My dream is for her to get a scholarship,” he says. But Tali Rose has other ideas.

“The Olympics, that’s the goal,” she says.


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