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Native American basketball fans headed to Louisville

by Cindy Hess, communications and marketing last modified Feb 28, 2014 03:15 PM

Even the polar vortex can’t discourage fans of the Schimmel sisters.

Native American basketball fans headed to Louisville

Shoni and Jude Shimmel

On March 3 Cardinal basketball star Shoni Shimmel will play her final home game at the KFC Yum! Center and more than 1,500 Native Americans are heading to Louisville to see the 7 p.m. game—despite yet another forecast of wintry weather.

Shoni and her sister Jude, a junior, are Oregon natives and members of the Umatilla tribe. They have become Native American sports icons and their popularity has bolstered interest in UofL.

As part of the trip to Louisville, more than 120 people, representing five different tribes, will take campus tours March 3 and 4. They’ll visit places such as academic buildings, the new student recreation center and Grawemeyer Hall and have lunch at the Ville Grille.

“We are really excited to host these tours,” said Tammy Lawson, campus tour program coordinator. “The Schimmel sisters are great role models and they’ve done so much to raise UofL’s profile.”

Native American groups are traveling from nearly 40 states to see Shoni Schimmel’s final home game.

The UofL game against University of Connecticut is Native American Appreciation Night and will feature entertainment from various tribal groups including Elk Soldier, a South Dakota-based drum group. After the game, the entire women’s basketball team will sign autographs.

Communication professor Selene Phillips, a member of the Wisconsin-based Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe Nation, has also been working to raise the university’s profile among Native American communities.

In 2012 she founded the university’s first Native American Student Organization and in March will lead a spring break service learning trip to her reservation.

“Last year we arranged a tornado shelter and cleaned and organized a large basement of donations,” Phillips said. “This year we will do similar activities, and, weather permitting, we will assist with a fund raising event.”

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