American Indian youth enroute to Louisville
LOUISVILLE – Thousands of Native American basketball fans from all over Indian Country are descending into Louisville, Kentucky this weekend to attend the University of Louisville Cardinal women’s basketball game that will honor five senior stand outs including Indian Country’s very own Shoni Schimmel.
Hailing form the Umatilla reservation in Pendleton, Oregon, Shoni and her younger sister Jude have captivated fans from Indian country during her four years of playing basketball at Louisville. In that time, Shoni has garnered accolades from every major women’s basketball award association since she began her career in 2010 and was recently named a Top 10 finalist for the top award to receive, the Naismith award as college basketball’s player of the year.
Youth from the MHA Nation heading to Louisville, KY
Since the announcement of the senior game being named Native American night, fans have been flooding the phone lines and emails at the Cardinal ticket office to get tickets. In a recent story by the local newspaper the Courier Journal in Louisville, upwards of 1,500 Native American fans from 38 different states have purchased tickets to this game and those are just the fans that they know of, it doesn’t include the fans in recent weeks who are now filling the upper bowl of the KFC Yum Center that is generally closed during women’s games.
Even with the impending winter storm Titan, fans are still flocking into Louisville this weekend. Fans as far as Fairbanks, Alaska and Calgary, Canada are coming to the game to show their support. When warned about the weather recently one online fan Twyla Blackbird said, “We are Native…nothing is going to stop us!!!”
Rick and Ceci Schimmel speaking to Prairiie Potawatomi Band Nation youth on Friday, Feb. 28
While fans are making their way towards Kentucky, the biggest fans of the Schimmel sisters are also en route to cheer on their daughters and that is the parents Rick and Ceci. But along the way, the parents recently made a stop at the Prairie Band Potawatomi reservation in Mayetta, Kansas to speak to the youth of the Boys & Girls club located on the reservation. In a story published by The Indian Leader, Rick talked about how people told him that his daughters would never make it to the level they are at now, he said, “The haters are going to try to stop you, don’t let them. Keep that constant desire to keep going….you guys are our next generation’s leaders, you’re the ones who are going to make a difference.”
When fans finally arrive into Louisville, Kentucky most will be looking to take in some local culture and eateries but some younger fans will be attending official campus tours by the University of Louisville advancement office, in a release by their office they said, “More than 120 people representing five different tribes will take campus tours March 3 and 4 as part of their visit to Louisville. They’ll visit places such as academic buildings, the new student recreation center and Grawemeyer Hall and have lunch at the Ville Grille.” Some fans also posted online that during these tours they hope to catch a glimpse of Shoni or Jude heading to class in hopes of getting an autograph or picture.
One item that should be announced to fans attending the game is that we had a recent conversations with head coach Jeff Walz regarding gifts for the girls and he clarified that under no circumstance is it permissible for an enrolled university athlete to receive gifts. We know many people are looking to honor the senior athletes with the customs and traditions they have been raised with but under NCAA rules, athletes cannot receive gifts no matter the circumstance. Also, in speaking with the media relations office they understand that the thousands of fans attending the game will want autographs and pictures so they are moving the autograph session off the arena floor and anticipate it will be more than a few hours. An announcement at the game will pinpoint the exact location where fans can line up to get autographs.
Best of luck to everyone traveling and keep us up-to-date on your experience via our fan event page at:
Editor’s Note: This artilce appears courtesy of NDNSPORTS.COM