Diné player gains new experience playing softball in Dominican Republic

Girls hold Navajo Nation flag on the field.

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Courage Todachine, left, and Rochelle Begaye played for Team USA in the World Games for women’s fast-pitch softball in Dominican Republic. Todachine, of Fort Defiance, and Begaye, of Window Rock hold up the Navajo Nation flag during opening ceremonies. Todachine and Begaye are the lone Native Americans on Team USA.

FORT DEFIANCE

The American International Sports Teams 19-under Dominican Republic tour was more than competing in a softball tournament.

USA’s Team Stars featured a pair Navajo players, Courage Todachine, of Fort Defiance, and Rochelle Begaye, of Window Rock.

Team Stars finished third place among the five countries that participated in the six-day tour that included pool play and the tournament.

The tour included two teams from USA. In addition to Team Stars, there was Team Stripes.

Todachine said Team Stars’ daily schedule was different from Team Stripes. She said after waking up in the morning and eating breakfast they boarded a bus that took roughly 50 minutes to get to their location.

After playing their games, she said they did some sightseeing and when they were done they spent time at the beach before heading back to the hotel for dinner.

She said her purpose of the trip was to gain lifelong friendship, introduce her to the world and play the game she loves.

“My personal purpose for the trip was to gain new experience and further developing my skills,” Todachine said. “This trip taught me that softball is universal. Whether we are here on the reservation or in Santo Domingo, softball is the same. Everyone learns the same thing in different ways. No matter the sport, it brings everyone together.”

Begaye said she personally benefitted from her trip overseas to the Dominican Republic, playing softball and sharing her Diné culture.

“The purpose of this trip is to bring girls from all over the country to make one team and play the sport they love, softball, together,” Begaye said.

“Also to learn and develop skills from the other girls. And to expand the knowledge of the sport softball, and to opportunity to travel. I personally benefited from this trip by being able to travel out of the country for the first time and mainly the opportunity to share the Diné culture with other ladies. Upon meeting the girls one night to eat dinner, we shared our backgrounds and wanted to know more about each other. They were absolutely shocked hearing about Diné culture. They were fascinated.”

Begaye said her experience from the trip was not every country is wealthy, but that it did not stop the Dominican people from being happy.

“Softball is universal,” Begaye said. “Many girls from Dominican want the chance to play and having the determination to get there. Today in the U.S., we have children who are put in little leagues in many different sports that don’t want to play.”

Begaye said she and Todachine displayed the Navajo Nation flag and had pride in their culture.

“We displayed the Navajo Nation flag and took a picture,” she said. “The girls wanted to know where we were from. The parents took plenty of pictures of the unique Navajo Nation flag. We shared our culture with the coaches and girls. We talked about the meaning of the Navajo Nation flag, the ceremonies and what they represent and do. Lastly, our Diné language. They were so intrigued and wanted to know many words in Navajo.”


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