SHIPROCK, N.M. — From the football field to the rodeo arena and all the way to the Navajo Nation Council, competition and integrity followed LoRenzo Bates.
In a room filled with the 2018 Navajo Times Fall All-Stars, their families, and friends, Bates shared how the two components popped up in every aspect of his career as a student, athlete, and professional.
Bates said the two are what led the dozens of All-Stars recognized last Friday to their accomplishments.
“I understand the competitiveness,” he said. “That competitiveness, that discipline that each of them showed to be able to get here today.”
Bates was the guest speaker at the annual Navajo Times awards banquet held at the Phil Thomas Performing Arts Center in Shiprock last Friday, where the newspaper announced its players of the year, coaches of the year, and all-stars for the 2018 fall sports season.
The award ceremony began with the traditional photo session of the All-Stars and coaches. Bates then shared a message with the young student athletes and the rest of the audience.
Bates, who was a member of the Navajo Methodist Mission (now Navajo Preparatory School) football team that won the school’s only football state championship in 1968, shared his experience with competition as a young adult.
He spoke of the time and effort put into playing football, basketball, and running track and field, and his dedication as a rodeo athlete in college. He said he and his friends often practiced under a blanket of darkness just to get better.
“Getting on the bull in the middle of the night with nobody out there to protect you, we wanted to show that we were just as good or better,” Bates said.
Bates said he understood the determination many of the student-athletes had to do well, and commended them for it.
He also applauded and encouraged the support system behind the All-Stars.
“It’s up to you as parents to encourage your kids to be able to move on with the ability that they have,” he said. “(It’s) the parents that push them, that took them to where they needed to go.”
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in the Navajo Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.