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'You can hear him from a ways away': Wellpinit football player honors late father with battle cry, songs

You can catch a glimpse of Isaac's singing skills on the football field but why he sings is a much larger story.

WELLPINIT, Wash. — Wellpinit, Washington, is a quiet place, unless you're at a Wellpinit High School football game. Then, you'll clearly hear Isaac Tonasket. 

"It makes me proud, who I am. I think of the kickoff like a start of a battle," Tonasket said. 

He's the team's offensive and defensive lineman who is also the kicker and the leader of the war hoop battle cry on kickoffs.

"You can hear him from a ways away," said Tonasket's teammate, Jasper Abrahamson. "They just send that shock through you." 

Tonasket has no problem showing off his vocal range. He sings traditional Native American songs. It is something his dad Christopher Lee Tonasket encouraged from a young age.

"Everyone tells me how proud he would be, just seeing how far I've come," said Isaac. "So I think he'd be really proud."

Isaac's dad is no longer here. He died six years ago at the age of 36.

"After he passed, I didn't sing that much," Tonasket said through tears. "I would say I like to sing because it makes me look back on him and makes him proud."

The first song he wrote was for his dad. Since then, he's written more about influencing positive thoughts.

"I'm just trying to stay positive. Just because positivity spreads and brings more positivity around others," he said. 

He also wrote more songs about his dad.

"I knew that he had something special. He didn't quite believe in himself," said his mother, Monica. "But I told him he has a gift. I told him he should share his gift. His voice can help others and really uplift people's spirits."

Tonasket did just that. He performs in front of people frequently now.

One of the places he performed was Multnomah Falls, Oregon. He and his teammate Steven Ford recorded a video of a song Isaac wrote about his dad.

"When we posted it we thought we'd get like 2,000 views," Ford said. "Then it just blew up. It was wild."

The video went viral. Steven and Isaac say just last week it eclipsed one million views.

It was a proud moment for the kid who honors his dad by singing.

"It meant so much to me," Tonasket said. 

With the beat of his drum and the messages Isaac spreads, there isn't any doubt that his father would be proud.

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