Native Village Youth and Education News

April 1, 2009 Issue 196 Volume 4

State title thrills reservation
By The Associated Press
Condensed by Native Village

Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming:   The Wyoming Indian High School Chiefs recently defeated the Lusk High School Tigers to win the Class 2A Wyoming State High School Basketball Championship. And a community grieving the loss of two of its elders once again had a reason to smile.

The Wind River Indian Reservation is home to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes. In the week before regionals, the Chiefs' Melvin Villa lost his grandfather, Joe Oldman. Teammate Mylan Glenmore also lost his grandmother, Gladys Moss.

"It was real tough times for the whole community, because they weren't just Mylan's and Melvin's family members," Wyoming Indian coach Craig Ferris said. "They were elders in the community, and that's a big thing in our community.  To lose people like that really hits hard. It doesn't just hit the family, it hits everybody."

Villa collapsed on the court after the game and later broke down when talking about his grandfather. "He passed away the day before regionals," Villa said. "So I did this for him. I took it hard because he used to go to my games. ... I did it for him. My dad just said that me and (Glenmore) got the power now and we had to use it. He knows that both of them are watching us."

What they, and the thousands of Wyoming Indian fans in attendance, saw was a team overcoming tragedy and coming together with one purpose - bringing the state title back to the reservation.

 "When we have games it's a community," said elementary school principal Owen St. Clair. "They take these players as their own kids. And when we win a state championship, the whole community wins a state championship. You can just see that with the overwhelming support from our community. It's a big deal."

It was also a big deal for the countless other Chiefs who played in the state tournament but never won a championship.

John Underwood played at Wyoming Indian from 1979-82. Now in a wheelchair as a result of an accident, Underwood watched his son Lorenzo accept his championship medal after the game. Moments later, Lorenzo  waded through the crowd and placed the medal around his father's neck.

"I almost broke down and cried," John said. " ...It means a lot because my dad, he's gone now, he always hoped I would get a championship too. So for (Lorenzo) to get one for his grandma and grandpa means a lot. I'm just proud of him and the team and what they did."

Lorenzo, who nearly quit the team two years ago, was just glad that his dad was able to share in the moment.

"I'm just thankful that my dad is still here with me," Lorenzo said. "I enjoy it when he's here because we went through a tough time last year. But now he's feeling good and I'm feeling good, so it's great to have him at my games so he can watch me."

Mylan Glenmore shared similar emotions. "This [win] is for my grandma," Glenmore said. "That's why I did it. If it wasn't for her I wouldn't be playing, because she pushed me a lot to go out for all sports, even if I didn't excel in them."


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