LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11)—They’re coming from the Shoni Schimmels’ home state of Oregon; they’re coming from Oklahoma.
Monday night’s women’s basketball game against No. 1 UConn is Native American Appreciation night at the KFC Yum! Center, and they’re coming to see the No. 3 Cards take on the Huskies.
“Oh, we've known about the Schimmels since they started playing basketball,” Muscogee Creek Nation’s Edwin Marshall said.
“Go Schimmels from the Muscogee Creek Nation,” Marshall said.
“On Instagram they're taking pictures and saying ‘hey we're traveling through Oklahoma to go to Kentucky and it's raining really hard,’ but they're still taking pictures,” University of Louisville basketball player Shoni Schimmel said.
Thousands of Native Americans are braving the snow and the ice to see Shoni and Jude Schimmel take on Connecticut.
“It's unbelievable because they could watch on TV, but it's crazy that they're coming out to support us and come to the University of Louisville just to watch us play basketball,” Schimmel said.
Tonight is not just special because it's Shoni's Senior night.
“Who would have ever thought the University of Louisville would host a Native American night? But knowing the following they have I think you'll see that are Native Americans that will be there from all over the region,” Marshall said.
The Schimmels' fans have been traveling to see them play all season long, in Dallas versus SMU and in Oklahoma. They make shirts, get their pictures taken, and take pride in the sisters who are pursuing their dreams.
“The kids get together, play a little street ball together, and they call it “rez ball” and they've got their own kind of way to play,” Marshall said.
That's the way Shoni plays, and now she's doing it “Off the Rez,” as seen in the 2011 documentary chronicling how her and her family left their Umatilla Indian reservation for college basketball. Now the Schimmels’ are people saying thank you for the example.
“Anytime we have an opportunity to find a role model like that, we always support them,” said Marshall.