WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren received a basketball signed by the 2023 New Mexico high school state champions today.
He gathered with the Gallup High School Bengals girls varsity basketball team after their win at the New Mexico state high school championship game earlier this month.
After greeting Head Coach Todd McBroom and the family and relatives who made the special trip to Window Rock at the president’s invitation, President Nygren gave his encouragement to the champions.
“Anything you do in life as you move forward, always do things that make you feel joy in life,” the president said.
Members of the winning team were also able to ask the president questions.
“How does it feel to be the president of the reservation?” asked one of the team members.
President Nygren said, even though the girls gathered may not be considering the moment when they seek out a homesite lease, his campaign was based on ‘Yideesk’ą́ądi Nitsáhákees,’ or thinking for the future. He said his first 75 days in office have kept him busy working towards that goal.
“My goal, as president, is to make it easier for you guys to come home,” he said.
He asked Sophomore Rylie Whitehair about a moment she considered to be the scariest part of the season.
Whitehair pondered the question from the president for a moment and responded thoughtfully.
“There was basically no moment I was afraid because I had trust in all these girls,” Whitehair said.
Senior Delia Tello agreed with Whitehair.
“It takes a lot of focus and a peer mentality,” she said. The president asked her what it takes to be a champion.
“The ones that want to work hard, they’re the ones that are going to be successful,” Tello said. She pointed to the younger players and peers and said they have a lot of potential.
The president also took on a question about sports he played during high school.
President Nygren admitted he wasn’t much of an athlete after middle school. “I did skate all four years, though,” he said.
“I always stayed in shape enough to where they would call on me and say ‘Buu, we need a sixth runner on the cross country team,’ or ‘Hey, you’re still in shape, we just need someone to play defense,’” said President Nygren.
He acknowledged there are a lot of life lessons in playing sports and in winning a championship like the Gallup Bengals accomplished earlier in the month. He shared his encouragement with the group.
“Being successful in life, it’s a daily thing,” he said.
The hard work they put in on the court is something they’re going to take with them throughout their life. As champions, they’re also leaders and role-models for not only those that are following after them, but also for many adult Navajo people.
Teamwork can lead to success and is something President Nygren pointed to about his administration. He reminds his staff to be passionate, like the champions gathered there, about their work and their dedication.
“I’m almost like the coaches,” said the president about leading the Navajo Nation.
“We’re doing it for the people.”
Following their meet and greet, the president’s office had lunch with the championship team and their relatives.
The Gallup High School 2023 girls varsity basketball roster includes:
- #1 – Ashlee Duboise (G, Jr.)
- #2 – Kiera Livingston (G, Sr.)
- #3 – Yanibah Begay (PG, Sr.)
- #4 – Alysha Slinkey (G, So.)
- #5 – Aniyah Dahozy (G, Jr.)
- #10 – Raven Tso (G, Sr.)
- #12 – Bailey Mike (G, Sr.)
- #13 – Raeanna Chee (G, Jr.)
- #22 – Daliyah Morris (SF, Sr.)
- #23 – Delia Tello (SG, Sr.)
- #32 – Summer Joe (P, Fr.)
- #33 – Adriell Thomas (P, Jr.)
- #34 – Rylie Whitehair (C, So.)
- #40 – Kayden Tsosie (P, 8th)
- Dakotah Spence
Along with Head Coach McBroom, Mike Butkovich, Chris Trujillo and Odessa Yazzie are the assistant coaches.