On Tuesday, July 14, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community welcomed the Schimmel family to the Community. They were here to participate in the second annual Native American Heritage Night at US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix. The family first appeared at the Round House Café for a meet-and-greet.
Shoni Schimmel was one of the first Native athletes drafted into the WNBA and plays for the Atlanta Dream. Her younger sister, Jude Schimmel, is a former NCAA basketball player and now an author, publishing her first book, Dreamcatcher. Both are role models and an inspiration within Indian Country. They were joined by their parents, Ceci and Rick Schimmel.
The Schimmel family often uses the summertime to travel across the nation to visit various tribal communities hoping to inspire Native youth and their families. Many youth are now finding out that although they might be part of a minority, they are capable of doing anything they set their minds to.
Jude Speaks at Round House Café
During the session at the Round House Café, Community members were able to ask Jude questions and get T-shirts, individualized signs and photos taken with the Schimmel family. Many also expressed their thanks and encouragement to the family.
SRPMIC President Delbert Ray, Sr. kicked off the event by welcoming and introducing the family. He highlighted their accomplishments and also elaborated on how parents play a key role in bringing up a successful child.
“First of all, I just want to say thank you for the opportunity to be here, to speak and to be a part of your Community. It’s an honor for our family. The biggest message I want to give is me and my family come from a small reservation in northeast Oregon, the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and Shoni and Jude are really no different than you kids right here,” said Rick Schimmel as he addressed the youth.
“When they were your age, they had big dreams, but they come from the same place that you’re coming from right now. So whatever it is you want to achieve in life, you certainly can achieve it. They are two examples of success in Indian Country, but in retrospect all of you can do the same. Follow your dreams, be proud of who you are, and have the ambition and the passion to pursue whatever it is you love to do,” he added.
When Jude was given the opportunity to speak, she elaborated on her basketball career, her educational endeavors and how she experienced just about everything with her sister Shoni. She made it clear to the youth that many doubted her, but despite any of that, she was able to prove them wrong and show them that Native Americans were just as talented as other players.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. You’re going to get a lot of ups and downs in life; there’s going to be a lot of obstacles. But, if you know what your goals are and what you want to achieve, don’t let [anything] stop you. Only you know what you’re capable of. Have confidence in yourself, believe in yourself and don’t let anyone tell you [that] you can’t do something,” said Jude to the youth.
Shoni Offers Advice to Fans
WNBA Native all-star Shoni Schimmel participated in Native American Heritage Night on Tuesday evening during the Atlanta Dream vs. Phoenix Mercury game at US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix. This night gave thousands of Schimmel fans the opportunity to support Shoni and her family and allowed spectators to experience a night of Native-inspired events.
This Native American Heritage Night was one to remember as the SRPMIC played a huge role in the night’s events. The arena was full of bright-orange SRPMIC Schimmel shirts, which had been given out earlier that day at the Round House Café. Many of the shirts were signed by the Schimmels.
The SRPMIC Employee Choir kicked off the festivities by singing the national anthem. As events got underway, youth and employees from the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale Red Mountain Campus participated in the fan tunnel, welcoming Mercury players onto the basketball court.
During the halftime show, Native athletes who played a key role in Indian Country were honored on the court. Of the six who were honored, Community employee Joe “Tomahawk” Tate, two-time Sport Jiu Jitsu International Federation (SJJIF) Heavyweight World Champion, was recognized. Also during halftime, Community member RJ Lopez performed a hoop dance for the thousands in attendance. He left the crowd in awe as they gave him a standing ovation.
After the Dream suffered a 80-71 loss to the Mercury, fans weren’t as disappointed as you’d think. They still chanted Shoni’s name and held their homemade signs proudly as they waited for Shoni’s post-game Q&A session with fans. Shoni was rather proud of her 12 points and 4 assists as fans welcomed her back to the court. Schimmel played for 30 mins during the entire game, which left all of her fans proud.