Diné signs with NAU basketball as point guard

By Shondiin Silversmith
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, November 29, 2012

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T he hard work of a 17-year-old senior at Mountain View High in Mesa, Ariz., is paying off because she gets to start off her college career as a point guard for the Northern Arizona University women's basketball team.

A basketball career that started in the fourth grade has lead René Coggins, 17, to the big leagues of college ball.

"The college experience is just one of a kind. People play in the college division because they truly love the game. I think it's the game in its purest form," Coggins said about how she sees college basketball. "I'm really excited to be able to play in college, especially at NAU. I think it's going to be an amazing experience."

Coggins is the first Arizona recruit to sign with NAU this year, according to head coach Sue Darling.

"She will bring her competitive fire and spirit to this program," Darling said.

Coggins' passion for basketball grew as time went by.

"I just fell in love with the game," she said. "I fell in love with the competition, the friend's you make along the way, the team camaraderie, the determination, and just how much hard work is involved with it.

"It's an incredible game, and I love it," she added.

Darling said what made Coggins an ideal candidate for NAU was not only her basketball success but also her academic career. With a 4.0 GPA, Darling said, "she raised eyebrows at NAU."

Darling believes that Coggins is, "The type of kid you build a program around."

"They were trying to start a new era at NAU. I really love what Coach Sue is looking to do for the NAU program, and I really want to be a part of that new NAU era," Coggins said about why she accepted the offer. "I fell in love with the team."

Darling said Coggins' overall leadership and basketball IQ made her an ideal point guard.

"She's good in herself," she said, "but she makes the other girls around her better, as a point guard that's critical."

It's a position she takes the most pride in because "being a point guard means your being a leader, you're the floor captain, you're an extension of the coach on the floor, and I think a lot people should take more pride in that role."

Darling said that Coggins is a "self-less basketball player," and that's what makes her a great leader for the position.

According to the statistics presented by NAU, Coggins is a four-year letterman and has been the team captain for three years at Mountain View High.

She led her team to the state semifinals during the 2011 and 2012 seasons and averaged 11 points per game while shooting 48 percent from the field and 87 percent from the free throw line.

"She's a competitor and a winner," Darlings said her prized recruit.

Coggins said it feels great to sign with NAU and next year she is hoping to help the team grow by becoming a successful leader on the court. She understands that it will take some hard work on her part to achieve that.

"I want to see how far my hard work can take me. Just be the best player I can be, I am going to keep working hard for as long as I can," Coggins said.

She is hoping that her story will help influence others.

"I really made it a goal for myself to be an example to show other Navajo students that it's possible to do really well in school and if you work hard you can end up at great place like NAU," Coggins said, who is born for the Towering House clan.

As for choosing NAU, she felt that it was the obvious choice for her.

Coggins starts her college basketball career next fall. She said she looking forward to "playing in the sky dome for the first time with my new teammates and just having a blast."

"She's a great kid and really something special, we were lucky to get her," Darling said.

For more information about the NAU lumberjacks visit: www.nauathletics.com.

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