Before classes start on Monday mornings, you can find Ibrahim “Abe” Daniel talking shop with his teachers and fellow students about the games he watched over the weekend. Whether it’s basketball or football, Abe has a take on who deserved to win, who was unlucky and what it takes for a team to succeed. As he looks ahead to celebrating his high school graduation this Spring after six years at PRIDE Prep, a charter public school in Spokane, Abe is already putting in the work to realize his dream of working as a sports analyst and broadcaster. Next stop, Washington State University.
After joining PRIDE Prep toward the end of his 6th Grade year, Abe reflects today on how he was mostly “goofing off and having fun.”
“When I give advice to new middle schoolers today, I tell them to enjoy their three years in middle school, make friends and have fun…but make sure you keep on top of your schoolwork,” Abe says.
Abe shares his experience as a PRIDE Prep student and community member when he met with prospective students, parents and elected officials when he served as part of the school’s ambassador program.
“When I was an ambassador for my school, I greeted visitors touring Pride Prep and helped answer their questions. Our school is smaller and it feels like a family here. A big part of my job as an ambassador was to help people feel comfortable while they are here,” Abe says. “Student ambassadors also help interview new teachers so that they can help them understand our experiences as young people in the community and as students at our school.”
Abe was born in America, but his older sister was born in Ethiopia. His parents moved from Ethiopia so that their children could have more opportunities in life and in their education.
“My parents didn’t want their kids to be held back just because there are relatively few options in Ethiopia,” Abe says. “My mom wanted me to be a doctor but as I got older and shared my passion for sports with her, she found out what type of jobs would be a better fit for me.”
The NFL and NBA might not play any games in Ethiopia, but Abe’s family supports his passion for his journey ahead. “Socially, in Ethiopia, there is no American football. There is basketball, but most of my family lives in villages where basketball just isn’t a part of their lives. In America, sports has helped me meet people from other communities, races and cultures. When I was much younger, I was really only around people within our Ethiopian community here in Spokane,” Abe says. “Playing sports at an early age really helped me out, even though it was something that my family wasn’t used to. I had help – my sister drove me to practices and games. She was already 11 when my family moved here, so I know that it was much tougher for her than me and I’m thankful that she has been such a great sister.”
A Community to Grow In
“Before Pride Prep, I was going to a school that mostly white,” says Abe. “It wasn’t a bad experience – I still met kids that are now my best friends. At Pride Prep, in part because its smaller, I feel more confident talking to my teachers than I did at a larger school. Teachers are still teachers, but their goal is to help you achieve your dreams and be there for you. I could talk to any of them about serious issues, even emotional ones. I don’t think it’s like that at every school. I could go into Brenda’s office at any time and she’d be there for me. Paige, Brian, Amy…the whole staff just feels like a family that there is to support you.”
“I’ve had great mentors at school, like Andre,” says Abe, remembering a previous administrator at PRIDE Prep. “He grew up as a Black man in Chicago and that experience really helped me hear him when we met at school. Even though I was growing up in a city like Spokane where not a lot of people look like me, he taught me that it doesn’t matter who you are, or who you were, but as long as you put in the work, there is nothing that you can’t do. It really stuck with me when he said that I just had to believe in myself.”
Abe shares that having mentors like Andre, great friends at school and a teaching staff that he felt comfortable with all were part of his community experience in learning how to be professional and mature when working with adults. As a member of the Black Student Union and a school ambassador, he learned that even if he didn’t think he would be good at something at first, he could thrive if he put his mind to it.
A Career in Sports Journalism
When you turn on your television to watch Skip Bayless and his colleagues debate whether or not Steph Curry or Michael Jordan is the true GOAT (Greatest of All Time), you are watching some of the teachers that Abe found outside of the classroom.
“I started watching sports when I was eight – with my family being from Ethiopia, they were still figuring out how things are here in America when I was born and sports weren’t a part of our lives,” Abe says. “People call me a bandwagon fan because I love the Golden State Warriors and Steph Curry, but I just happened to start watching sports when their title runs got going.”
“Most kids were still watching cartoons,” Abe laughs. “I was just more interested in what all the adults were doing. It takes real reporting. You are interviewing players, learning about different types of sports and traveling. And it’s hard work – you have to be ready to be right as often as you are wrong. A few years ago, I knew it was time to trade Russell Wilson – I was right about that. But also thought that Drew Luck would be a better replacement than Geno Smith and we all know how that turned out – I’m happy to be wrong about that one!”
Something tells us that it won’t be long before we change the dial or flip the channel and hear Abe giving his latest analysis of an upcoming draft or the chances of a playoff hopeful down the stretch. We know that wherever he ends up or whatever he chooses to pursue, he’ll be a leading ambassador for his community as he realizes his dreams.