Schimmel sisters find inspiration in youth

By Antonio Ramirez
Navajo Times

DULCE, N.M., August 1, 2013

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(Times photo – Donovan Quintero)

Louisville Lady Cardinals Jude Schimmel, left, and Shoni Schimmel watch some of their basketball camp players scramble across the court in Dulce, N.M., last Thursday.

T rue inspiration is not won through fame, recognition, awards or titles.

As fantastic and prestigious as those may be, true inspiration is motivated by helping others, according to Jude and Shoni Schimmel.

That idea was reinforced when the two sisters facilitated a youth basketball camp in Dulce, N.M. last week.

Last March, the sisters led the Louisville women's basketball team to the National Collegiate Athletic Association's championships.

Since the NCAA finals, Shoni has earned a gold medal at the 2013 World University Games in Russia, while both attended the 2013 ESPN ESPY Award show in Los Angeles as nominees for "Best Upset." They were also awarded the 2013 Phil Homeratha Leadership Award at the Native American Basketball Invitational.

And to conclude their summer, both sisters decided to give back by sharing their expertise in the game of basketball. They held two camps this month for Native American youth in Santa Fe, N.M. and then in Dulce, N.M.

"They're our inspiration," said Shoni of the young athletes. "You talk about us being an inspiration for other people, but we're inspired by that little girl out there. She's looking up to us and she wants to be us. I'm out there saying, 'Be better than us.'"

Ramaine Wood, coordinator for the camp in Dulce, N.M., got a call from a friend who asked if he could host a camp with the Schimmel sisters. Wood said that he went to the tribal Council of the Jicarilla Apache Tribe, pitched the idea and got their support.

Wood's daughter Kaylee Wood, who attended the camp, said the Schimmel sisters are inspiring because she looks at how far they've gotten without giving up.

The path towards achievement will twist and wind in ways unique to the individual. No two paths will be exactly the same. However, many people will share common experiences.

At the camp, Jude shared a story about perseverance and her experience of transitioning to college.

"I had my sister there, but it's just not the same because we have a huge family," she said. "I have five younger siblings that I want to be around all the time.

"When you go off to college and you can't see your grandmas and you can't see your younger siblings or your parents, after you live with them for 18 years, it's kind of hard to be away from them for so long."

Over time, Jude adjusted with the help of her mother's advice.

"Our mom told us, 'It's only four years of our life. Make the most out of it. At the end, if you really want to go back home, you can. At least it's your choice. It's not a bad thing if you want to live on the reservation. At least make it your decision.'"

Added Jude, "If you really want to go to school you have to keep that in the back of your mind. So stick it out and make the most of it. It's not always going to be easy and it's not always going to be fun. You have to see the bigger picture and understand that you're there for a reason."

While planning to play for the WNBA, Shoni said that it's still important to stay on top of the grades before focusing on basketball.

"Continue to do all the rights for yourself," Shoni said. "Get yourself to the next level and stay in the right direction."

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