background image

Salt River Represented at Fort Mojave Indian Tribe Second Annual Chair Volleyball Tournament of Champions

The Salt River Majestics take second place in the Gold Bracket at the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe Second Annual Chair Volleyball Tournament of Champions. (L-R) Brenda Hardy, Geronimo Martinez, Mary Fierros, Etheleen Ray, Christine Osife, Ginger Thomas, and Josie Duarte.

Three teams from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community traveled to Laughlin, Nevada’s Avi Resort & Casino to compete in the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe’s Second Annual Chair Volleyball Tournament of Champions, held August 28-31.

During the three days of the tournament, the Lightning & Thunder, Senior Steppers and the Salt River Majestics teams competed with more than 40 teams from surrounding states. The SR Majestics took second place in the Gold Division and Senior Steppers took second place in the Bronze Division.

The Majestics played approximately 17 games in the double-elimination tournament. The team, which was formed in 2005, currently has seven players: Etheleen Ray, Brenda Hardy, Christine Osife, Ginger Thomas, Josie Duarte, Mary Fierros and Geronimo Martinez. Three players are from the original 2005 team.

“We’re the diehards,” said Ray, who is team captain.

The SR Majestics faced great competition at the tournament but were well prepared, maybe more so than they thought. The team regularly practices twice a week, so they went into the tournament ready to play. They were seen as underdogs, with only seven players (one substitute), and quickly became the fan favorites.

“We got beat once but came back with a vengeance,” said Ray.

The scoring rules of the tournament were the first team to 15 points or the team with the highest points after 30 minutes wins. The Majestics held one team 1-0 to pull off one of their wins. They made a name for themselves, even playing a game with only four players at one point. Due to the number of teams and the number of games, it was difficult to keep track of where they stood in the tournament overall.

“Next thing we knew, we were in the championship,” said Ray.

The Majestics found out the night before the big game, and instantly the nerves started setting in.

Brenda Hardy (L) and her mother Nerissa Juan watch a match. The SR Majestics practice twice a week at the Salt River Gym.
“It was my first tournament, so I was real stressed—my heart was beating, my mom was watching, and I went and hugged her and told her, ‘I think I’m going to cry!’ It was so nerve-racking,” said Hardy, the newest member of the SR Majestics. Some players were so nervous that they joked about taking a bathroom break before the start of the game and never coming back.

“I told them, ‘Win, lose or draw, we’re all going to win or we’re all going to lose together,’” said Martinez.

The team got pumped and ready to play as the lights dimmed, the music blasted through the smoke-filled air and the players were introduced to the roaring crowd. “Just like when the Suns come out,” said Martinez.

The championship game was played under different conditions than the previous games in the tournament. The audience lights dimmed and lights were turned on in center court, similar to a boxing match, which threw some of the players off. The SR Majestics put up a good fight, but ultimately fell to a from California.

Although the team walked away with second place, they were very happy and proud of their performance.

“We surprised ourselves and everyone else,” said Ray. “We’re not seniors, we’re elders,” she continued. The oldest member of the team is 82.

During the trophy ceremony, the crowd cheered as the Majestics were acknowledged. “We get the trophy and everyone was screaming for us,” said Martinez. “We were the favorite, we were it! We surprised everyone, and everyone acknowledged that. It gave me goosebumps just hearing everyone yelling for us.”

The experience for the Salt River Majestics was one they’ll never forget. It was full of not only chair volleyball but also lunches, dinners, dances and even a luau. They eventually came back to Salt River with tired arms and a second-place trophy to add to their collection. The team has won more than 20 trophies since 2005, and they aren’t sure where they are going to display the latest one.

“Maybe we can put it at the new Recreation Center,” said Martinez, “so maybe some other seniors in the future see what we won and they’ll be inspired to do something.”

“Or there should be a senior trophy case somewhere to let people know we’re still active,” suggested Ray.

“We’re still here!” exclaimed Hardy.