Last spring, the Corona virus pandemic shut down schools across the country and left a lot of athletes without games to play, records to break and fans to cheer them on. The spring semester turned into the fall and still in most cases, schools remain closed. In some areas, some sports came back this fall but that was not the case for the majority of schools. So where are the Native athletes now? How are they keeping in game shape? Brent Cahwee, Pawnee and Yuchi, is the co-founder of the very popular website, NDNsports.com and he's on deck ready to talk about Native athletes and Covid-19.
"I had a wonderful conversation with the Winnebago high school men's basketball coach. And I asked him about that particular question and he, when the shutdown happened, he said it was actually one of the best things to happen for his program as the kids weren't in school but the parents didn't want the athletes to be not doing anything. So he was able to work with them all last spring and summer and fall to get him prepared for the season. So he was claiming it was a blessing in disguise because he was able to work with athletes that needed help in their game and stuff."
"Some of the up and coming athletes that we have coming out in the next few years would be Ms. Jaileen Yarrow. She is from the Lake Pyramid Paiute tribe. And she's one of the top point guards on the west coast. Last summer she was ranked as one of the top 25 athletes in the western region of the United States. And I was able to catch up with her at this tournament they were playing in. And she's a real talented athlete. She's had so many different accolades and she's only a freshman right now. She has an offer from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for college right now. So I look for big things for her to come out by the time she's done with high school."
"While there are some areas of the country that are playing high school sports, with fans or without fans, there's some areas of the country that have no sports going on whatsoever. So a lot of those kids, what they've been doing is playing on the AAU amateur travel circuit. So you have players who don't have a high school season, but they're still traveling across the United States playing in areas like Phoenix and Las Vegas and all over the Midwest really too. So that's probably what they'd been doing to get recruited as well. But the NCAA having a bid period extended, the only way they can see college coaches is through our platform, zoom and texts and phone calls."
"Stailee Heard she's from Oklahoma. She is a two sport star. She's a sophomore at the Sapulpa high school there. And she's one of the top point guards in the state of Oklahoma for her class. And she's also the most recent class five, eight state cross country champion as well. So she's someone that will most likely play college basketball, but I understand she picked up volleyball for the first time this season. So who's to say, by the time she's a senior, she could be a three sport All-Stater."
"And this young man right here Mr. Jesse White at White Shield North Dakota he is gone over 2,500 points toward his career in high school. Now he's closing in on the, I think the number three spot and he's hoping to get to the number one spot by the time his final game has played this year. He's one of the top athletes in Indian Country and he's a good role model from his reservation. I've seen him play at tournaments and I've talked to him and he's got some college offers, but he's not gonna make that decision until the end of the season. He's just focusing on finishing out the season strong, but he's definitely one of the top guards in Indian Country."
"Here we have Nahcs Wahwassuck he's one of the top five recruits in the state of Kansas. He's from the Prairie Band Pottawatomie reservation. He is someone that's under the radar and he's been playing on the travel circuit getting his names, he's getting offers going in and stuff like that. He's as you can see, he's a pretty good size. He's about six foot five. And he is going to be someone that is going to be a steal for whoever recruits him in college. And that's kind of the big thing moving forward with trying to get recruited during the pandemic has been a challenge as well."
"We have a our own Native AAU travel teams. There's two registered programs. Right now there is the Lady Unity program. And then there's the EYG program out of Oklahoma. Lady Unity program recently played in Phoenix and on the 28 five Nike tournament of champions where they competed against teams from Nike teams that were sponsored by Adidas teams that were sponsored by Under Armour. And it was an all Native girls teams."
"There that came out on top of the tournament. There was a 14 week tournament. So they had to travel from Phoenix every weekend from all over the country from Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and Montana to come and play in this 28, five week. So that's how getting recruited is something that needs to be done as well as these Native teams that just typically play on the reservation. They they need to hop in the AAU arena as well."
Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix.
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