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2018 Lori Piestewa National Native American Games

On Friday, July 20, Native American youth and adults gathered for the opening ceremonies for the 2018 Fiesta Bowl Lori Piestewa National Native American Games in Scottsdale.

More than 3,000 Native American athletes participated in basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, cross country, and track and field events.

“Lori’s dream was to bring people together, and by looking out at the crowd, she has accomplished that,” said Jessica Lynch, who was named the honorary chairwoman of games.

Lynch was serving alongside Lori Piestewa in the U.S. Army when they were ambushed and attacked in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2003. Piestewa was the first Native American woman in history to die in combat while serving in the U.S. military and the first woman in the U.S. military killed in the Iraq War.

Lynch thanked all those who participate in the games and support the Piestewa family and veterans each year. She wished all the players the best of luck as they competed in the three-day tournament.

Lori Piestewa’s mother, Percy Piestewa, thanked all the sponsors and athletes for their participation and thanked the parents for giving their children the opportunity to participate in the games. She said it is a way to honor the veterans who have fought for the freedoms “that enable us to do what we’re doing today.

“To make it in life, the first thing you have to say is ‘I am going to try,’” said Piestewa. “It’s not whether you win or not, it’s that you played the game and played it fairly.”

The games took place in and around the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, July 20-22. A number of SRPMIC members participated in the basketball and baseball tournaments.

In the boys fifth- and sixth-grade division, Salt River Ba’ag took home the championship title, undefeated in their division. The Rebels in the same division unfortunately went 0-3 throughout the tournament, but they fought their hardest in each of their games.

In the boys seventh-grade division, Salt River Ba’ag came up short with a record of 1-2 in the tournament.

In the girls sixth-grade division, the Lady Rebels finished 0-3 for the tournament.

In the girls eighth-grade division, Kristine Scabby played with the Lady Mambas team in very close games. The Mambas ultimately fell short, posting a 1-2 win-loss record.

In the girls JV division, the Lady Mambas recruited Morning Star Scabby to play on their team. The Mambas finished with a 0-3 record in the tournament. On AZ Native Sky Black, Nyese Jones, daughter of Sara Achin, helped her team get a championship win. AZ Native Sky Black beat N-10 by 23 points. The team defeated N-10 after losing to them in their second game of the tournament.

In the girls varsity division, Copa Crew Hype recruited Daycee Santo. The team went 2-1, missing the championship title, as the AZ Lady Warriors beat Copa Crew Hype by 2 points in the championship game. Juilanne Carlisle played with the Run-N-Gun team, which also went 2-1 in the tournament.

In the men’s division, the AZ Warriors finished 2-1, losing to All Nations in the championship bracket. In the women’s division, former WNBA players Shoni Schimmel and Ryneldi Becenti played on XFactor, and the team went undefeated until their final game in the championship bracket against the Unknown Ballers.

Schimmel, who has been in the Phoenix area for the summer, working out and participating in speaking engagements, joined the team that consisted of Hopi and Navajo players and a couple of ladies from Oregon.

“It’s cool to be out here and play in memory of Lori Piestewa,” said Schimmel.

Click here to view photo gallery.