Celebrating the Schimmel Sisters’ Mother: Cecilee Moses Taught Them to Love Themselves

Editor’s Note: This commentary was originally published on Mother’s Day weekend 2013. It is being republished today in honor of Mother’s Day.

Rick and Ce Ce Moses Schimmel, the parents of Shoni and Jude, in town for Senior Night. (File photo)

Rick and Ce Ce Moses Schimmel, the parents of Shoni and Jude, in town for Senior Night. (File photo)

March Madness continued into April this year for American Indians who became captivated as they watched the Schimmel sisters take their Louisville Cardinals to the NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship game in New Orleans.

No American Indian had ever played in a NCAA men’s or women’s basketball championship game before the Schimmel sisters did so last month. The sisters are tribal members of the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla in Oregon.

The Louisville Cardinals advanced farther into tournament play than most sports writers expected. As their magical season continued, the team became known as the spoilers as they beat first Baylor, then Tennessee and Cal. As the Schimmel sisters kept winning, more and more non-Native people became acquainted with the term “rez ball.”

While the two sisters became the “hottest” talked about items in Indian country, their mother, Cecilee Moses, could be seen in the crowd as ESPN panned the crowd to focus in on their parents during the tournament play.

The two Umatilla sisters, Shoni and Jude Schimmel realize they have their mother to thank for much of their success. Not only has she been their mother, but she coached both of her daughters as they were in high school.

While the two sisters became the “hottest” talked about items in Indian country, their mother, Cecilee Moses, could be seen in the crowd as ESPN panned the crowd to focus in on their parents during the tournament play.

Schimmel Family at KFC Yum! Center on Native American Night.

Schimmel Family at KFC Yum! Center on Native American Night.

The two Umatilla sisters, Shoni and Jude Schimmel realize they have their mother to thank for much of their success. Not only has she been their mother, but she coached both of her daughters as they were in high school.

During the NCAA women’s tournament, I sensed there was some special chemistry that existed between the mother and daughters. So, I wanted to talk to them in celebration of Mother’s Day. I was fortunate to get all three on the telephone yesterday.

 “She has been the most inspirational person in my life,” stated Shoni Schimmel without hesitation. “She is a great person. I am thankful for her every day. She is the best mom there could be,” the twenty-one-year old star basketball player continued.

Jude, who won the Elite 89 Award – an award given to the person who has the best GPA among all players in the Elite 8 tournament – has the same sentiments about her mother.

“I would define her as a super woman. She has been our main inspiration and support, commented Jude. “Not only has she raised her own kids, but she has raised other kids. She is a strong woman, who is very giving.”

Talking to both basketball stars, I could hear the electricity of their love and respect they have for their mother in their voices.

Born in Mission on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon, Moses played basketball for the Blue Mountain Junior College in Pendleton, Oregon. She took her basketball player skills to the next level. She became a high school basketball coach. Overall she has coached some 100 girls, including Shoni and Jude.

“It was fun for me,” Moses responded when I asked her about what it was like to coach her two daughters while they were in high school. “I talk to my kids all the time about good and bad. It was the same thing when I coached my two girls. I tend to ride my kids hard – on and off the court. I want them to expect to play well to win.”

Moses recalled she and Shoni bumped heads only three times while she coached her.

“Then the mom came out,” she chuckled. “I think she thought she could ‘test’ the water.

That did not last long. Actually, it was really good and fun coaching them.”

Building mutual respect between the coach and players is important to success according to Moses.

“My mother told me her father, who was Nez Perce, had skills to have his people do things for him because he believed you have to develop mutual respect for one another,” stated Moses. “That is what I tried to do as a coach. I believe mutual respect is important between a coach and players,” she continued.

Before the family moved to Portland, Oregon so Moses could take a high school coaching job, the family lived on the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

“My daughters know what rez life is about. We understand what commodities are about; we are familiar with IHS (Indian Health Service); we understand about the WIC program. In other words, we have ‘been there; done that.’ One thing we learned to do is all get along with each other,” said Moses.

Whether a coach or a mother, Moses has wise advice:

“One thing I like to stress to Native people is what I taught my daughters: You have to be passionate about what you want. You have to believe in yourself, but most important is you have to love yourself. I taught my children God made you for a reason. It was up to them to find that purpose. You find the purpose, then you will succeed, but you have to believe and love yourself.”

A mother teaching her children to love themselves may be the best lesson a mother can teach her children in preparation for NCAA play or life itself.

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  1. Lee Knutsen 4 years ago
  2. Debra Rincon Lopez 4 years ago