'I hope I can continue to inspire Indian Country'
Indian Country Today
Another Schimmel sports star is ready to make her mark on college basketball’s biggest stage.
Milan Schimmel is heading to Ohio in the fall to join the University of Cincinnati women’s basketball program after two years of junior college basketball. Schimmel, the younger sister of Shoni and Jude Schimmel, is the latest from the talent-rich Native family to reach Division I college basketball.
Schimmel, a 5-foot-8 guard, said she connected with Cincinnati coach Michelle Clark-Heard during her recruitment.
“I really love the coaching staff there,” Schimmel said. “I really believe in the coach, and I really feel like I can trust her with a lot of things. She’s going to support me, coach me on and off the court. At the end of the day, I feel like she ultimately wants me to succeed.”
In a statement, Clark-Heard said: “Milan is a versatile guard that has the ability to play multiple positions in our system. She is able to score in a variety of ways and brings great experience to our team as we continue to build a championship culture.”
The Bearcats basketball program officially made the announcement on April 21. Schimmel is the sixth member of the new signing class.
Schimmel’s path to Division I basketball had a couple more stops along the way compared to her older sisters, who both starred at the University of Louisville and helped lead the Cardinals to a second-place finish in the 2013 Final Four.
Schimmel has two years of eligibility remaining. She starred for Eastern Florida State College and was named first team all-Suncoast Conference earlier this year. Schimmel played for Hutchinson Community College in Kansas the season before.
In a tweet with Milan’s photo, Eastern Florida State College coach Rob McDonald said he was “super” proud of her. “This young lady is the truth, period! I call her ‘Miss does it all on the floor and some’!”
Schimmel will be one of the few Native athletes competing in Division I athletics.
In the 2018-19 school year, 635 Alaska Native and Native American athletes competed in Division1 sports, according to a NCAA demographic database published in March. The number could be higher as the data was self-reported by NCAA schools.
The same data set listed a total of 182,685 total Division I student athletes, with more than half being white. Black student athletes were the second highest, with 38,218.
Schimmel said she’s a versatile guard who can dribble and create for others while also playing on the wing. “My game is a combination of both my sisters,” she said. “I feel like I can shoot the ball and handle the ball.”
Shoni Schimmel, known for her electrifying play at Louisville and during her time in the WNBA, congratulated her sister on her Instagram.
“May you continue to enjoy your journey in the basketball world and this life,” she wrote. “Stay inspiring! You’re amazing and I’m happy for you … stay blessed, sis.”
And Milan isn’t the last Schimmel with an eye on college basketball. Her younger brother Mick Schimmel is set to graduate from high school and has his own impressive list of basketball accomplishments at the same high school Milan attended, Nixya’awii Community School in Pendleton on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in northeastern Oregon. Shoni and Jude both starred at Franklin High School in Portland.
Since early March when her school closed the campus, Milan Schimmel has been home in Umatilla working on her game and finishing her spring semester classes online. She’s limited basketball-wise because of safety restrictions caused by COVID-19. She said she stays active by running and doing drills on the outdoor basketball hoop. She said basketball in the Schimmel household remains competitive.
Because of the coronavirus restrictions across the nation, it’s unclear when Schimmel will move to Ohio. She plans to major in business administration, and since her season ended in Florida, she’s been itching to get back on the college basketball court.
“I look at the bigger picture,” she said. “People look up to me and being a role model, not only in the local area but all across Indian Country, I’m really excited to go to the next level, and I hope I can continue to inspire Indian Country.”
After college, Schimmel said she wants to play professional basketball overseas and visit places she hasn’t seen before. In 2017, Jude Schimmel played professional basketball in Spain.
“When she talks about her experience it sounded really cool, but it’s always something I wanted to do. I want to see the world,” Milan Schimmel said.
Dalton Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe, is a national correspondent at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter - @daltonwalker
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