On Friday, October 17, White River and Norris students hosted special visitors to their school. Shoni Schimmel, along with her parents Rick and Ceci, came to inspire, not only White River and Norris students, but St. Francis students and local community members as well.
Shoni Schimmel,for those of you who may not be familiar with her, is a 5’9” point guard for the Atlanta Dream, who was raised on the Confederated tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Mission, Oregon. The documentary movie, Off the Rez, shows Shoni’s journey from her life at Hermiston High School to her family’s move to Portland, Oregon so Shoni could attend Franklin High School to increase her chances of being recruited by a Division 1 school. Shoni went on to have a very successful career at Louisville, where she was joined by her younger sister Jude. In April 2014, Shoni was selected in the first round of the 2014 WNBA draft by the Atlanta Dream. And according to her dad, Rick, with the help of Native Americans voting for her, was selected for the 2014 WNBA All-Star game where Shoni earned the Most Valuable player award.
Shoni and her parents shared their message with students in White River and Norris along with students from St. Francis and later in the day visited Todd County. Shoni, Rick and Ceci also visited other reservations across South Dakota sharing their message.
Students and audience members heard a heartfelt message from Shoni, Rick and Ceci encouraging the students to be their best at all times. Students were encouraged to be respectful, to show determination, to work hard. How else do you think Shoni has gotten where she is today? Ceci encouraged the students to keep their bodies and minds well and healthy by staying away from drugs and alcohol. She encouraged students to read as you will need to read the rest of your life. Students were encouraged to do their homework. But the most important message from the Schimmel family was listen and respect your parents and elders. A message that hopefully the students heard.
A few students from St. Francis and White River were lucky enough to be able to ask her a question, which she answered. Nic Marshal asked how she picked her number 23, to which she responded isn’t that what all the great ones wear on their uniform.
A big thank you to all that played a part in bringing Shoni and her parents to White River to share their story and words of encouragement.
The students, who were from kindergarten through high school, need to be commended as their behavior was outstanding and courteous throughout the hour.
Shoni Schimmel did not have time on this trip to the Rosebud Sioux Reservation to sign autographs or take pictures with students but did promise to return again, only next time bringing back her little sister, Jude, and together they will sign autographs and take pictures.
Shoni Schimmel, I do not know if you will read this but we will hold you to your promise of returning with your sister, Jude. So until your next visit, play hard and keep being a good role model for young people to follow.