WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren today welcomed the 2023 Arizona 1A State Championship Rock Point High School Lady Cougars basketball and volleyball teams to the presidential stateroom at the Office of the President and Vice President.
The teams arrived with their school Principal James Patterson, basketball coach Andrew Reed, assistant coach Crystanya Begay, volleyball coaches Kyle Arthur and Marisa Clark and Athletic Director Chris Wilson.
Because Rock Point High School enrollment is only about 300, many of the girls play on both teams.
“All of you in this room know how to be champions,” the President told the teams. “You’re bringing a lot of pride and joy back home to your community. Continue to have that championship attitude. You’re not going to make every shot on the court or in life but just keep trying.”
The basketball Lady Cougars claimed the coveted 1A state championship with a 49-45 point victory over the Joseph City Wildcats to bring home a second championship in a row.
The volleyball Lady Cougars had an even closer victory, nabbing the 1A state championship with a 25-23 point victory over the Tempe Prep Lady Knights.
Both teams arrived wearing their colorful traditional finest and many girls wore their Navajo wraparound white winter moccasins, or k’é ntsaaí. They brought with them their three golden basketball trophies adorned with the nets from their winning shots from this year’s and previous championships they won, and two golden volleyball trophies from those state championships.
“Tell me what it means to be a champion,” the President asked them.
“It’s about hard work,” one of the girls said. “It’s about having a strong mentality,” said another.
The President wanted to know how many seniors were there. A majority of hands went up. Several juniors raised their hands next, and just a few sophomores after them.
“Regardless if you play volleyball, basketball together, just really develop that bond,” he said. “I really want you to leave high school and to continue to maintain your relationships with one another, call one another, encourage one another.”
He told them that the world gets a little bit bigger when they leave home. But their world will remain close when they surround themselves with really good people who encourage each other.
“As you move on to college, or whatever it may be, learn how to continue to call each other, talk to each other, encourage one another and help one another because that way the world doesn’t seem to get bigger than you,” he said.
He told the teams that they demonstrate the leadership qualities he seeks of himself, those he works with, and what he set as core values of his administration.
“The first is competence,” he said, “to have acquired the skills and put in the practice to be able to achieve the goal before you.
“The second is commitment, to have the determination, the grit, the willingness to sacrifice comfort to do the hard thing, and to find within yourself the will to persevere despite setbacks that are a part of all sports.
“The third is compassion, to feel on a deeper level the desire, the drive and the benevolence of your teammates to sacrifice for you as you would for them.
“The fourth is teamwork because no one does anything alone. We cannot be the high scorer nor the best passer without the assistance of our team, our coach and all those who love us,” President Nygren said. “Without a supportive team around us at every stage of life, life is more of a struggle.”
The success of this championship, he said, is what you young women have achieved with your skills, abilities and heart have made us all very proud of you, he said.
President Nygren will also be meeting with other state high school championship teams.
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