‘Something special’

Daughter and father coach Tohatchi to first-ever championship


Navajo Times | Adron Gardner
The Tohatchi Cougars rally around varsity girls basketball coach Tanisha Bitsoi after the New Mexico 3A girls state championship game at the Wise Pies Arena in Albuquerque on March 10. The Lady Cougars defeated top seed Eunice by a 57-50 count.

Six years ago, Tanisha Bitsoi graduated from college and moved back home to the Navajo Nation.

A former Lady Cougar herself from 2000-2004, Bitsoi felt the desire to return to the gymnasium of Tohatchi High School where she once played basketball.

In her four years as a student at Tohatchi, she only made it to the first round of the state tournament and never got a chance to feel the glory that comes with winning a state title, but that changed last weekend when Bitsoi led Tohatchi to the school’s first-ever state title.

Bitsoi said the feeling was different than what she had imagined.

“I think when I took on the role of coaching it changed me. I see these young ladies – I don’t have any children – so I see them as my daughters. I think mothers – how they feel is they want the best for their kids and that’s just how I feel about every girl that comes into this program,” she said. “It’s just different because you’re older and you see it from a different perspective. I think that’s why it’s so different. I know that I can make a difference and I can in some way impact their lives, that’s the most satisfying part.”

Moving from a player to a coach was a challenge for Bitsoi, now 30, who started coaching when she was 24 years old.

In her first season she coached the team to only three wins and 21 losses, but in a couple of seasons, their records reflected more wins than losses.

She said it’s been nothing short of an experience and a quick one at that.

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Categories: People
Tags: Lady Cougars

About Author

Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi

Sunnie Clahchischiligi has been the sports writer for the Navajo Times since 2008. She has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of New Mexico. Before joining the Times, she worked at the St. Cloud Times (Minn.), the Albuquerque Journal, the Santa Fe New Mexican, Sports Illustrated Magazine in New York City and the Salt Lake Tribune. She can be reached at sunnie@navajotimes.com or via cell at (505) 686-0769.