Having both made their debut at the 2012 Pacific Cup, it was a remarkable sign of things to come for the dynamic rookie duo of Mele Rich and Shuree Hyatt. As the Pacific Cup represented the first interleague match in LFL history, their debuts were part of a landmark moment in both Seattle Mist history and for their careers.
It would come as no surprise to fans to know that both Hyatt and Rich are two-sport stars. Hyatt has experience as a professional soccer player. Having logged time as a midfielder with the Seattle Sounders, she was also a Division I star with the University of San Francisco. USF head coach Pamela Kalinoski regarded Haytt as the most athletic player on her team. Hailing from Lakewood, Washington, Rich has a basketball background which led her to a collegiate career at Evergreen.
Hyatt would contribute two touchdowns and a two-point conversion in the 38-18 win over the BC Angels. She would carry that momentum into the regular season as the Mist finished with their first-ever undefeated season. Along with Rich, the two would be finalists for the LFL 2013 Rookie of the Year Award. Hyatt would emerge as the recipient of the award but their remarkable rookie seasons were truly part of an astounding team effort.
Both of these rookie sensations brought a versatile game to the Mist. Each would shape their game in the same mold as Seattle Mist superstar Jessica Hopkins. Like Hopkins, they would emerge as triple threats in rushing, receiving and defense.,
Rich would average 7.8 yards per carry while scoring five touchdowns. She would account for 59% of the Mist rushing attack, a very impressive mark as a rookie. Her 283 combined yards from scrimmage led all Mist players while ranked second in receiving on the Mist. Defensively, Rich would log 10.5 total tackles and one interception.
Ranking second on the Mist with three interceptions, Hyatt showed tremendous instinct on defense. Her 14 total tackles were testament to her athleticism. This was complemented by a solid receiving season where she grabbed nine receptions for 123 yards and three receiving touchdowns, ranking second behind Lashaun Fowler.
If one game signified that they were truly star quality, it would come in a 24-20 win over the three-time defending LFL champion Los Angeles Temptation. The May 4 contest was on the road, making the task even more challenging. Facing a 14-6 deficit as halftime approached, Rich ran in for a touchdown, sinking the morale of the Temptation.
In the third quarter, Hyatt would intercept a pass from Temptation quarterback Ashley Salerno. Returning it for a touchdown, Seattle would enjoy their first lead of the game by an 18-12 margin. The game would end in a 24-20 final for the biggest win in Mist history.
A few weeks later, a convincing July 20 whitewash of the Las Vegas Sin provided the Mist with its first undefeated regular season. Rich would contribute touchdowns on both sides of the ball in a 52-14 triumph. Of note, she would intercept superstar Sin quarterback Nikki Johnson and return it for a touchdown. Offensively, she scored twice, including the score that would have Seattle eclipse the 50-point barrier. Along with Hyatt, the two combined for 93 combined yards from scrimmage.
Having both been key contributors to the finest season in Mist history, the next step is the elusive Legends Cup. Although Rich shall soon be tackling the upcoming role of motherhood, she has the potential to play a key role in the Mist hoping to maintain a powerhouse for years to come. Considering how many mothers compete in both indoor and outdoor pro football (Hopkins is one), Rich is too great a talent to not see on the gridiron in the future. Both Rich and Hyatt have proven to be significant building blocks for the future of the Mist franchise and are poised for long and glorious careers.