Incredible hardly seems like an adequate word to describe the sports world for Indian Country in 2014.
It was a year of monumental firsts: Shoni Schimmel became the first Native American to be drafted in to the WNBA in the first round; Miles and Lyle Thompson shared the award given to the top college lacrosse players, becoming the first Native Americans to win it; and soccer star Chris Wondolowski made his first appearance in the World Cup, playing for the U.S. national team.
But the year was also fraught with protests, most of them aimed at the Washington NFL team and its owner, Dan Snyder. The team’s racist mascot spurred thousands of Native Americans to demonstrations calling for Snyder to change the logo, which he adamantly refuses to do, insisting that the term “Redskins” honors Native Americans. Despite his attempts to hold back history, there was some significant progress against the team– the name lost its trademark protection; and 50 Senators, as well as media companies and retired players came out against the name – and the fight will surely continue into 2015.
Something else that will also carry over into the New Year is the good works by many to improve the lives of Native youth. Notah Begay III held his 7th annual Foundation Challenge to benefit young people and Billy Mills (while celebrating the 50th anniversary of his historic Olympic win) pushed for more support of youth.
Here’s a quick look at 12 of the biggest moments in sports in 2014:
1. The Atlanta Dreamer
“DREAM BIG,” followed by several emoticons and then “#N8tive” was what Shoni Schimmel tweeted on Monday night before she held up an Atlanta Dream uniform on the stage at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, the site of last year’s WNBA draft. She was drafted 8th overall, the highest position for a Native American in the history of the WNBA, and went on to have a rousing rookie campaign.
2. Only Inuk in NHL Opens up About Racism
Jordin Tootoo, a 31-year-old forward, opened up about how he overcame racism as a child and still deals with it today in the NHL. "I experienced [racism] last year," he told CBC news. "I'm not going to hold things in anymore. I can't. I need to speak out, and for [people] to understand how hurtful it is, especially at the professional level.” He hopes the NHL will adopt a no-tolerance policy for racist remarks.
ICTMN Archive photo
Notah Begay III
3. A Hall of Fame Hole-in-One
On October 11, Notah Begay III was officially inducted into the Stanford University Athletics Hall of Fame. Joining in the celebration was his former college teammate, Tiger Woods.
Miles and Lyle Thompson win Tewaaraton Award
4. Historic LAX Win
It’s often said that brothers share everything, which may explain why on May 29, 2014, University of Albany attack men Lyle and Miles Thompson were honored with the Tewaaraton Award, given annually to the top male and female collegiate lacrosse players.
Billy Mills wins the 10,000 meter run in Tokyo on Oct. 14, 1964.
5. Billy Mills Still Running Hard
On October 14, 1964, Billy Mills was in Tokyo running the most memorable race of his life. Fifty years later, Mills, now 76, is still the only American in track and field history to win an Olympic gold medal in the 10,000 meter run, and he’s working hard on behalf of youths through his Running Strong charity.
Iroquois Nationals at the World Lax Championships in Denver.
6. The Nationals Get Bronzed
On July 3, the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team began arriving in the Mile High City on July 3 to get acclimated and prepare for the 2014 Federal of International Lacrosse World Championship. The team played well, but lost o Canada, the gold medalist, and the USA, the silver medal winner. The Nationals finished third, capturing their first medal in the tournament’s history.
7. Mr. Wondo-ful
As excited fans boomed for Team USA in the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil during the 2014 World Cup, a similar roar could be heard thousands of miles away in Carnegie, Oklahoma, where the Kiowa tribe was hosting its own viewing party for USA striker Chris Wondolowski.
8. Logo No-Go
On June 18, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled six Federal trademark registrations for the Washington Redskins. Two months later, lawyers for the Washington Redskins football team filed an appeal in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. A ruling on the appeal is pending.
T.J. Oshie with Team USA
9. Back in the U.S.S.R.
Native hockey players T.J. Oshie, Team USA, and Carey Price, Team Canada, both made big plays in the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, to help their teams advance. Price had a .971 save percentage and two shutouts, helping Canada take the gold medal. And Oshie had sports fans calling him “T.J. Sochi” after his shoot-out goal helped USA beat Russia. Team USA placed fourth.