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Native Sun News: Shoni Schimmel visits tribes in South Dakota

The following story was written and reported by David Michaud, Native Sun News Correspondent. All content © Native Sun News.

Shoni Schimmel (aove) and her sister, Jude, led the Lousiville Cardinals women’s basketball team to a victory of the Baylor Bears in last year’s NCAA tournament. The victory is considered to be the greatest upset in the history of women’s college basketball.

Shoni Schimmel visits Crow Creek and Pine Ridge
By: David Michaud
Native Sun News Correspondent

PINE RIDGE—Shoni Schimmel, along with her mother and father, traveled to South Dakota to share her story with Native Americans who were inspired by her and her sister during the Women’s NCAA Basketball Championships.

The Schimmel family made the trip to South Dakota and first traveled to the Fort Thompson on the Crow Creek Reservation and met with the people there, sharing her story and meeting the residents. After that visit the family made their way to Pine Ridge.

While at Pine Ridge the people got their first look at Shoni during the parade, as she rode on one of the floats. As the float that she rode on passed by the parade announcer, Tiny DeCory said, “and here is Louisville basketball star Shoni Schimmel!” drawing the largest cheers from the crowd.

As the parade traveled through town the lined up crowd continuously cheered as Shoni passed by. Everyone, it seemed, knew who the basketball player from Louisville was and were inspired by her presence.

With the conclusion of the parade the Schimmel family made their way to Pine Ridge High School. At the high school the family shared the documentary film from when Shoni was a junior in high school until after her senior season called “Off the Rez.”

After the film was finished the festivities continued as Shoni and her family was given an honoring. Before the presentation they were honored with an honoring song, along with other traditional Lakota activities.

During the session Shoni and her parents were asked a plethora of questions about her life, basketball and outside of basketball.

When answering the questions there were two answers that Shoni came back to. The first and most popular question had to do with her experience against undefeated and first ranked Baylor and their star player Brittany Griner, as she scored a one-and-one against her and got in a small shoving match after the play. Shoni said she, “didn’t remember what” she said to her, adding, “It’s just part of basketball.”

It also came up that Shoni was a big fan of the man who the Pine Ridge Thorpes take their name from, Jim Thorpe. The family was looking at the large picture of Thorpe and the wall and Cecilee brought up that she always looked up to him and her children did too.

Another question that was asked several times, albeit in different ways, was how she handles the schoolwork while at college.

“It’s tough, but you have to remember that student comes first in student-athlete,” said Shoni. “I know that I have to keep up my work or I can’t play basketball.”

Shoni went on to talk about her experience in the World University Games, where she was part of Team USA and won the gold medal. The World University Games are like the Olympics for college athletes.

“Playing and representing USA was great, it was a good experience playing with all the other girls and being around them,” said Shoni.

After about 45 minutes the questions had finally stopped and it was time for an autograph session with the older Schimmel sister. When it was announced that Shoni would be signing autographs almost everyone in the gym, children and adults, ran to try to be the first in line.

In the autograph line Shoni was asked to sign almost everything possible, ranging from a drum to one child’s forehead. After the autograph session was over, and everyone in the gym had a chance to shake the family’s hands, the Schimmel family took a trip to the pow wow, their last activity for the day.

On Sunday the Schimmel family attended a 3-on-3 basketball tournament at Red Cloud High School.

At the tournament Shoni watched players compete for the title and offered tips to all the players about how to improve their game. These tips, from a woman who competed in the National Championships and played for Team USA, was something everyone in attendance was grateful for.

Unfortunately, after the tournament it was time for the family to leave. After their time in Pine Ridge though the family, Shoni in particular, inspired many young athletes to pursue their dreams. All the people who experienced her story and her presence are sure to have been given hope that someday their dreams will come true if they work hard enough, just as Shoni’s have.

(Contact David Michaud at

Copyright permission by Native Sun News

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