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Bryan Strom drives past defender with basketball.

Former men’s basketball player finds success

Bryan Strom honored by American Indian College Fund, looks to give back to community

Bryan Strom’s Yakima roots run deep. Growing up on the Yakama Nation reservation, the son of former Yakima Valley College women’s basketball head coach Adam Strom, he began playing basketball at an early age.

Along with his older brother Isiah and twin brother Bryce, Strom helped lead the Yakama Nation Tribal School’s team to the state tournament five consecutive years, including a runner-up finish his senior year in 2020.

With Isiah previously playing for the Yaks, Bryan and Bryce decided to follow in their brother’s footsteps, joining the team for the 2020-21 season.

“It was a family thing and that was important because not a lot of people get a chance to play with their brothers, especially at the college level,” Strom said.

However, Strom’s connections to the Yaks went beyond his brothers. Also on the Yaks squad that season was his cousin, Quentin Raynor, who would go on play a pivotal role the following year in the team’s Northwest Athletics Conference (NWAC) championship. The Stroms also grew up playing AAU basketball with future teammates Trey Funk and MarJon Beauchamp.

“Even though it was a short season because of COVID, it was so much fun,” Strom said. “MarJon and Quentin were living with me and my brother, working out with us.”

Bryan Strom and teammates
Bryan Strom, second from left, poses with former teammates including MarJon Beauchamp following the latter's selection in the first round of the 2022 NBA draft.

The opportunity to play with Beauchamp, who would go on to be drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2022, made a particular impact.

“Being part of his journey was so cool,” Strom said. “The steps he took to get where he is, it motivates me, not just in basketball but in life, to keep working hard.”

After the Yaks missed out on making the NWAC tournament in the shortened 2021 season, Strom decided to follow his father to Lawrence, Kan., where he had taken a new position as head coach of the women’s basketball team at Haskell Indian Nations University.

In his first season at Haskell, Strom, an enrolled member of the Quinault Nations, gradually gained more playing time and was playing well during the 2022-23 campaign before an ACL tear ended his season.

“The rehab is going well, I’m doing every day with the athletics trainer as Haskell,” he said.

While he still has two more years of eligibility, Strom’s focus right now is on his studies and completing his bachelor’s degree in environmental science.

That commitment to academics was recognized during Strom’s first year at Haskell, when he was named the school’s American Indian College Fund Student of the Year.

“It’s more than just a scholarship. When you think about what that award means and how few people get that recognition, I felt really blessed,” he said. “I take a lot of pride in keeping up with my school work and getting good grades.”

While earning his degree in environmental science would open a wide range of career opportunities on reservations, Strom also has his eye on pursuing a career as a dentist or orthodontist.

“When I got braces, I was like, ‘Man, this is a cool job, I think I’d enjoy doing that’,” Strom said. “On the Yakama reservation, kids don’t have an opportunity to get braces on the reservation, and it would be cool to be able to come back and take care of people so kids would have that opportunity in their community.”