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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


April 5, 2003 - Issue 84


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Leupp Honors its Basketball Champs

By S.J. Wilson - Navajo-Hopi Observer

The ChampsLeupp — Spirits were high at Leupp Schools Inc. on March 14, a day the community chose to honor their State Championship winners — both the girls and boys high school teams took first place in the Small School Interscholastic Association tournament.

This is the first time LSI has achieved this honor.

Awards were handed out to all team members before an enthusiastic crowd. Most Valuable Players were Byron Manekeja (boys) and Orlanda "Muzzie" Chee (girls). But all of the kids were clearly respected winners in LSI.

The boys team consisted of Ferdelle Cody, Lawrence Begay, Malcolm VanWinkle, Stuart Cody, Justin Blackwater, Byron Manekeja, Lou Begay, Kyle Chee, Ronderick Begay and Eric Begay.

The girls team featured Randi Shauna Cook, Deynese Tso, Kirstin Riggs, Deena Wilson, Michella Benally, Maranda "Moe" Chee, Orlanda Chee, Standrea Ashley and Cynthia Ashley.

Stanley and Ernestine Ashley, parents of the Ashley girls, were presented with the gift of $50 as the LSI Teams most dedicated parents.

"We attended every game. I'm just happy for them, that they won," Ernestine Ashley said.

Players also gave gifts their parents and relatives, recognizing that without their support, becoming champions would be more difficult.

Kodiak YazzieAn honored guest, Kodiak Yazzie of the Northern Arizona University basketball team, was on hand to congratulate the team and to offer support and advice. Yazzie, who appeared as part of a collaborative effort between NAU and LSI, distinguished himself at Coconino High School before making the university team. He said he enjoys visiting the reservation, where he receives special treatment. A junior at NAU, Yazzie spoke to school assembly about the importance of focusing on education, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and of working hard to achieve goals.

"Stay in school, get your education," he said. "It's what has given me the chance to play in a Division I school. Take advantage of the opportunities you have right now."

His status as an athlete, Yazzie said, has given him the opportunity to travel all around the United States.

"Stay away from drugs and alcohol. This is something you don't want to get involved in," he said. "In my experience, I've seen people mess up opportunities they've had or could have had."

He spoke of how attention to his education gave him the opportunity to play with NAU.

"I would hate it when my mother would make me do my homework, but it really paid off in opportunities, including scholarships."

Yazzie said he's very grateful to his parents, Donna and Steve Yazzie, who reside in Flagstaff.

Victory ParadeGirls Coach Elsie Shirley told team members how proud she was of them, of the community's love for them.

The Boys Coach, Derek Blackhorse, expressed his pride in the team, and spoke of his own pride in his first year of coaching. "It was a big challenge for me," he said. "If I can achieve a goal, all of you can reach your goals as well!"

Cindy Joe, Principal of LSI said that she and the whole community are all very proud of the teams.

"It's been very good for them," she said. "They have put LSI on the map. We are too small to make it into the big leagues, but we have a lot of students with talent and skills – a lot of potential."

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

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