Brothers lead the Whitehorse Raiders

By Sunnie Clahchischiligi
Special to the Times

SHIPROCK, December 13, 2012

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(Special to the Times – Donovan Quintero)

TOP: Whitehorse Raiders Tristan Mitchell (30) goes up strong for two-points against three players from Ignacio Nov 30 in Kirtland, N.M.
SECOND FROM TOP: Whitehorse Raiders Daivik Mitchell (32) collects a rebound against Ignacio Nov 30 in Kirtland, N.M.

T ristan Mitchell and his younger brother Daivik do everything together.

They rope, hunt, and fish together. More importantly they take care of the paint for the Whitehorse Raiders.

The two siblings are the backbone to this season's basketball team.

"I think Tristan and Daivik are lucky," Whitehorse head coach Matt Baldwin said. "I think it's kind of fun to see them be able to play on the court the same time. They're different than most, sometimes I don't even look at them as brothers, it doesn't even cross your mind all the time."

But they are brothers, even if it isn't always obvious.

During a recent tournament at Kirtland Central High, the two took the court and put their brotherly skills to work.

Tristan, one of two seniors on the team, proved to be a strong leader on the team while Daivik showed that he is ready to take the reigns once his brother graduates.

Both started playing basketball as soon as they could walk.

Tristan, the older of the two, is said to be the quiet one, who thinks of basketball as a recreational sport.

Baldwin, who coached Tristan all four years of high school, said the senior has grown to be an aggressive player.

"The biggest growth I've seen with Tristan is he's gained a little confidence, he always had the size but he wasn't using it," the coach said. "…In the past two years he's more and more wiling to use that size and kind of figured out how to use his body more…and he's a lot stronger going in to the hoop.

Added Baldwin, "Tristan's always been more of a quiet leader, he give a lot of effort in practice, he's always leading by example that way, his personality and attitude he's just always taken the game to heart, but never too seriously."

But Daivik is different.

The younger of the two is considered more of a mental player. Baldwin said he's always thinking things through and trying to learn as much as he can about the sport.

"I've been impressed this year how quickly he's developed, compared to last year he's come a long way this year…His brother his confidence has been blossomed," Baldwin said. "He's more aggressive, looking to be a scorer and rebounder."

Outside of basketball the two are just like any other brothers. They joke, they laugh, they go places together and support each other.

It's something their parents, Sylvia and Harold Mitchell enjoy about two of their five children.

Sylvia Mitchell said she enjoys watching her sons work together on the court, especially since her two older children, who also played basketball, didn't get to play with each other in high school.

"They are so close that if one of them goes on a trip somewhere the other one always misses them. I have never separated these boys a part since they were born," she said. "I'm just so proud of them, it's just amazing to watch both of them play…"

Tristan said he enjoys playing basketball because it keeps him out of trouble and it creates a special bond between him and his brother.

"Playing with my little brother, I like it, you know him a lot better than you know your other teammates," he said. "Being around each other everyday you have that trust with each other when you're on the court."

Daivik, on the other hand, has his reasons.

"I'm dedicated but I'm not as some people would be – out there where they live, breath and eat basketball. I'm more like I'll practice, I'll get prepared for games, I'll try to play my best, I want to do my best," Daivik said. "It's just a fun game, especially when your teammates you know them really well, and you're all friends, it's not so much playing basketball, just being there with your teammates having fun with them."

This past summer Daivik traveled to Hawaii with a traveling team to play in the World Youth Tournament for basketball.

"I thought it'd probably be a pretty good experience to go, not many people get to go to Hawaii, or get to play basketball in Hawaii, especially teams from out here," he said.

While basketball is a big part of their lives, Sylvia said she and her husband have always encouraged their children to put school first.

"Both myself and my husband we stress education, that's the number one thing. They make that their priority," she said.

Tristan hasn't decided where he wants to go to college but plans to study electrical engineering.

Baldwin said it's the educational drive that makes both boys determined and discipline, which is exactly what his team needs.

"Both of the brothers have been really easy to coach, they don't assume anything, if they have questions both Tristan and Daivik are really good at coming to me and asking," he said. "They're wanting to learn and grow and become better."

The Mitchell brothers are Tl'aashchi'i, born for Naaneesht'ezhi Tabaaha. Their maternal grandfather's clan is Hashk'aa hadzohi and paternal grandfather's clan is To'aheedliinii.

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