I’m headed to the Yum Center tonight to watch the Louisville Cardinals women’s basketball team (ranked No. 3 in the nation) take on the No. 1 UConn Huskies. This is a huge game that will determine rankings for the NCAA Women’s Tournament. No matter what happens, UConn will be a No. 1 seed in the regionals. And no matter what happens, Louisville, which won’t be knocked out in the early rounds, will be playing in the regional championships in Louisville.
Louisville coach Jeff Walz with guards (from left) Tia Gibbs, Jude Schimmel and Shoni Schimmel.
If Louisville wins, it will be the No. 1 seed in the regionals in Louisville, while UConn would likely be the No. 1 seed in Lincoln, Neb. If Louisville loses, UConn would get the No. 1 seed at Louisville, while the Cards would be the No. 2 seed.
So tonight’s a pretty important game.
Add to that it’s a special night for Louisville players Shoni and Jude Schimmel, sisters who grew up on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in eastern Oregon:
The game is also Native American Appreciation Night, to honor some of Louisville’s most dedicated fans.
It’s Native American night because it’s Senior Night in Louisville and the last regular season home game Shoni, a senior, will play for the Cards. Jude’s a junior and will be back next year, but Shoni is a superstar in women’s basketball, and the sisters are treated as heroes among the Native population. If you’ve followed women’s college basketball at all this year, you know that members of tribes across the country have attended home and road games wherever the sisters play.
Here’s a clip from the documentary “Off the Rez” that shows how important the sisters are to the Indian community:
According to Indian Country Today, Shoni is:
… one of only a few Native American female basketball players in the college ranks, yet she says growing up on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in eastern Oregon (Cayuse, Umatilla, Walla Walla) provided her with the best possible basketball apprenticeship one could ask for. “There’s so many Native Americans that coulda-shoulda-woulda but didn’t do anything,” she said. “It’s almost sickening how much talent is (on the reservation),” she told the Courier-Journal. “I am very proud of who I am and where I came from, but I wanted to be one of the ones that made it out. My job is to play basketball, and I love doing it.”
It’s a huge game for Native Americans. It’s a huge game for Louisville Women’s basketball, which lost in last years NCAA final to UConn. And it’s a huge game in women’s sports.
Of course, I’m going to go. I got my tickets months ago.