Watch Louisville face off against UConn tonight on ESPN at 8:30 EDT in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship.
And before the game, as SB Nation writes, “Discovery’s Fit and Health Network will broadcast “Off the Rez”, the story of Louisville Cardinals star Shoni Schimmel (and, by association, current teammate and sister Jude) today at 6 p.m. EDT.”
Today, Buttercupia left the following comment on one of my posts about Brittney Griner:
After Louisville’s amazing win over Baylor and the incredible play of Shoni Schimmel, I was watching an ESPN anchor (a woman) interviewing her. After briefly touching on the game itself and her performance, the interviewer went on to inquire as to what it was like having Kevin Durant come into the locker room. After that, she asked Shoni if she’d been to the hospital to see the injured Louisville man who had a horrific broken leg on the court on national TV. Shoni was rightfully confused as to why they spent most of the time interviewing her talking about men.
Also, that young woman has a three-point shot that defies nature. It’s amazing.
The point: why can’t Shoni Schimmel just be awesome in her own right? And that’s a great question.
Shoni and her younger sister Jude are both players on Louisville’s women’s basketball team, who will play tonight against U Conn in the championship (Louisville is the first #5 seed to ever make the championship – no #5 or lower seed has ever made it that far in the tournament). To get there, they had to beat historic standouts Baylor and Tennessee.
In one of the most riveting basketball games I’ve ever seen, Shoni Schimmel led her team to a historic win against the #1 seeded Baylor Bears team, who are last year’s reigning champions and who had at their center Brittney Griner, one of the most dominant players to ever play the game. Commentators have said that Baylor’s loss in the Sweet Sixteen was possibly the greatest upset in women’s NCAA tournament history.
After beating Tennessee in the Elite Eight, Shoni was named the Oklahoma City Region’s Most Valuable Player.
There is something else about the Schimmel sisters that matters, outside of their awesome basketball playing. They belong to the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla. As Colorlines says, “the Schimmels are among about two dozen self-identified American Indian athletes competing in Division I sports.” If you follow the #SchimmelShow hashtag on Twitter, it is full of Native people cheering the sisters on (among a whole lot of other people).
This past weekend, The New York Times featured the sisters in an article titled, “Far From Reservation, Sisters Lead Louisville.” An excerpt:
Through Shoni’s influence, in particular, the Cardinals have adopted a more structured version of what many call Rez Ball, an up-tempo style that is joyful, feverish and fearless.
“It’s a very rare position they’re in to excel at this level,” said Ryneldi Becenti, a star at Arizona State in the 1990s who is the only female basketball player inducted into the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame. “I don’t think I’ve heard of any Native American women getting to the Final Four, especially being the biggest part of the team.”
For Tuesday’s victory over Tennessee here in the regional final, Indians from numerous tribes came in support, holding up signs that said “Rez Girls Rock” and “Native Pride” and “Never Give Up.” Many said they viewed the Schimmels as an inspirational counterpoint to the despair of poverty, alcoholism, teenage pregnancy, drug addiction and educational indifference often found on reservations.
Shoni is also the subject of a documentary titled Off the Rez (mentioned at the top of this post because it will air tonight before the national championship game). It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2011.
Shoni Schimmel was a high-school junior living on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon, the star basketball player on the local team. Then Shoni’s mother, Ceci Moses, took a job coaching a high school team in Portland, and against the wishes of her own mother and grandmother on the “Rez,” Ceci brought Shoni and her seven other children with her. Now, Shoni’s senior year has become the most important year of their lives as mother and daughter fight to prove that Native American women can become champions off the Rez
The sisters have a compelling story. They represent the power of sport at its best. And they are just damn fun basketball players to watch. I will be cheering them on tonight when I tune in for the #SchimmelShow.
For more on the Schimmel sisters:
- Shoni Schimmel at ESPNW (April 5): This was our goal the whole season
- Indian Country Today Media Network has wonderful comprehensive coverage of both Schimmel sisters and their run to the championship
- Colorlines: 6 Native American Basketball Facts, Inspired by Louisville’s Star Sisters
- Win leads to vows: Rick Schimmel and Ceci Moses decided to marry after U of L’s win
- Bleacher Report/LA Times: Native Americans Shoni and Jude Schimmel Look to Lead Louisville to NCAA Title
- SB Nation: Native American heritage draws support for Schimmels, Louisville in Final Four run