College players get to strut their stuff for hometown crowd

Navajo Times | Krista Allen
NAU women’s basketball coach, Loree Payne, talks to Chelena Betoney (5) and Tate Tsingine (21) during a timeout in a game against University of Antelope Valley (Lancaster, California) at the Warrior Pavilion in Tuba City on Nov. 27. The Lumberjacks knocked off the Pioneers 104-49.

TUBA CITY

It is their families that motivate Diné collegiate basketball players Tate Tsingine and Chelena Betoney to stay at the highest level.

Tsingine and Betoney are both upperclassmen at Northern Arizona University, where they play on the women’s basketball team. The team on Monday night played in front of a crowd of 793 at Tuba City High School’s Warrior Pavilion, where Tsingine grew up playing and where her life changed when she signed with Central Arizona College in June 2015.

“It was amazing,” said Tsingine, a senior at NAU, when asked what it was like to play in front of her hometown. “It was great.”

“I’m really blessed to be able to come back and play in front of my community and those who watched me grow up playing, from boarding school to Tuba City High days,” she continued. “It brought back a lot of memories and just seeing certain people in the crowd and in the environment. Everyone was really into the game and they came here to support.”

Head coach Loree Payne in April announced Tsingine’s national letter of intent, saying the 5-foot-10 guard brings much needed collegiate experience to the Lumberjacks (Tsin Yitseełí in Diné bizaad) following two seasons at CAC where she started 56 of 60 games. She was a vital part of a program that compiled a two-year record of 44-16.

“You’d have to play outside, off the (Navajo Nation), like in Phoenix or at other competitions,” Tsingine said about her journey to NCAA Division I. “You’ll … get better and see what is out there. It’s not enough to play just around the (Nation). So, going to college was at a much different level (where) the (pace) is quicker and much more physical. It’s a challenge.”

Tsingine says through her culture, hard work and with her community’s and family’s support, she was able to push through.

“There will be hardships and stuff,” she added. “Having that strong backbone helps you to continue, to keep going and getting through it.”


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Categories: Basketball

About Author

Krista Allen

Krista Allen is the Western Agency Bureau reporter for the Navajo Times. She covers the western half of the Navajo Nation, including Page, Tuba City, Kaibeto, Cameron, Tonalea and Shonto. She can be reached at kallen@navajotimes.com.