Tahnee Robinson to share story of hard work, sacrifice at basketball camp

By Larissa L. Jimmy
Navajo Times

CHINLE, July 18, 2013

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Tahnee Robinson

T ahnee Robinson accomplished a lot.

She was the first American Indian to be drafted into the Women's National Basketball Association when she graduated from the University of Nevada-Reno, where she averaged around 22.1 points her senior year.

Her dominance on the court later led her to be drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, before she was traded to the Connecticut Sun in 2011. She became an ambassador for Nike N7 and has traveled abroad twice to play professionally in both Bulgaria and in Israel.

Needless to say, achieving this impressive resume was not an easy road for the 5-foot-9 guard.

The Wyoming native from the Wind River Indian Reservation will be making a stop on the Navajo Nation next week teaching student-athletes the fundamentals of basketball and sharing the story of her to becoming a professional basketball star.

The three-day training camp will be held at the Chinle Wildcat Den from June 23 to 25.

Robinson, who is a mixture of the Eastern Shoshone, Northern Cheyenne, Sioux and Pawnee tribes, said she took an interest the sport and began training for basketball when she was six years old.

The time and effort that she put into her training while growing up convinced Robinson's mother, Sara Robinson, that her daughter was serious enough about the sport and began investing in her daughter's passion.

In high school, however, here life went down what seemed like a dark road.

"I was a teenage mom. I used to drink, party, and smoke weed," confessed Robinson, in a telephone interview with the Times.

After the birth of her son at age 19, the athlete wondered if this was the end of her dream.

But instead she made the decision to push even harder.

Although it wasn't easy for Robinson being a full-time mom, a full-time student, and playing basketball in college, she said she persevered.

"It was difficult. I walked every step of that life with her," said Sara, adding that she was very hard on her kids, including Robinson.

And with the help and support of her family, the young Native girl from Wyoming with the passion for basketball would become a professional basketball player.

"I hated her for it, but now I love her for it," said Robinson, adding that her mother's high expectations helped her to get to where she is at today. "I lived that life, but now, after going through everything that I went through, I want to inspire and motivate kids that they can do more with their lives."

Sara, who Robinson calls her business partner, said that the camp is to convey the message of hard work, sacrifice and determination to achieve one's goals.

"If this is what you want to do, then it's an everyday sacrifice. You have to challenge yourself," said Sara.

Robinson said that she will be bringing her professional trainer, Edward LeBlanc, who has also trained other professional athletes.

However, the camp is limited to 100 participants.

"I know that there are a lot of kids who don't have the same opportunity as I did. I want them to have the same opportunity and I want to help them," said Robinson.

According to the coordinator and Robinson's grandfather, Charles Gover, "We want to bring Tahnee because she's a Native American girl who grew up on the reservation with the similar circumstances … and through the things she had to go through, maybe she can motivate other Native American athletes to pursue their dreams."

There is a fee of $135 per person.

Information: call 928-674-9481.

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