STCC welcomes Navajo Nation basketball players

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Courtesy: STCC Left to right, Quiana Dishface, Lakoda Jim and Zoey Lynn Natonabah

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Three new students from the Navajo Nation will be on STCC’s Women’s basketball roster this year.

Quiana Dishface, Lakoda Jim and Zoey Lynn Natonabah are the newest recruits for the women’s basketball team at STCC. Quiana is from Utah while Lakoda and Zoey are from the American Indian territory in New Mexico.

The three women marvel at how different life is here in New England in comparison to their previous upbringing on the reservation. “It’s really different from back home. It’s not dry,” said Natonabah. “It’s really green and a lot of moisture. When it was raining, a girl thought it was weird that we were just looking at the rain, because we don’t get much rain back home.”

The three young women were recruited by Ed Guczek, STCC women’s basketball coach. “We are fortunate to have a very strong recruiting class coming in for women’s basketball,” said Guczek. “I am very proud to have such a diverse representation on our roster representing our school. When I recruit I emphasize the cultural appreciation that our school has along with strength in education.”

Courtesy: STCC Quiana Dishface, right, practices with teammates in the gymnasium at Scibelli Hall.

Coach Guczek says that he’s proud that these three students have the opportunity to play a competitive sport that they love while getting the opportunity to enroll in a school with a strong and affordable education. “When I recruit, I recruit not only for their basketball skills, but also I ask what are their goals? What are their aspirations? Academically, the school is able to meet those goals and aspirations,” said Guczek.

“We didn’t really have a court,” said Dishface, recalling her upbringing on the reservation, “but it was basketball.” Dishface has played and practiced basketball since fifth grade and now has the opportunity to play in the city where the sport was invented 2,000 miles away from home.

Courtesy: STCC Quiana Dishface practices on a fall afternoon at STCC.

To keep up with the newest recruits check out the STCC’s women’s basketball roster.

The three players from the Navajo Nation said they chose STCC because of the strength of its academic programs. Natonabah and Jim hope to receive degrees in nursing while Dishface is pursuing biology and aspires to own an aquarium to teach people about the connections that creatures and people have.

“In Samoan culture, in Hawaiian culture, they have attachments to animals, which are sacred beings,” Dishface said. “In the Navajo culture, we see animals as our protectors, guides and family. Our creator is something different. But our animals are the foundation for what we know today. Without our connection with animals we wouldn’t know much about our world and how to survive.”

STCC has provided a welcoming atmosphere for the new students thus far, “Here, you’re welcomed. I see different types of people. A variety of different cultures and heritages coming in together. It feels like home. It feels welcoming, so I enjoy it.”

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