RENO, Nev. — The first-ever Native American All-Star Showcase tipped off on June 20, featuring more than 50 star athletes and coaches representing more than 12 schools across Northern Nevada.
“We wanted a way to recognize the Native basketball players and coaches throughout Northern Nevada,” said Randy Melendez.
Melendez, a longtime basketball coach and Recreational Assistant for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, was in charge of creating the showcase.
“The whole idea behind this showcase was to bring our community together,” said Melendez. “We just love basketball.”
The RSIC’s Colony Gym was jam-packed as community members gathered to cheer on the all-star boys and girls.
“There was a great turnout this year,” said Melendez. “They gym was well packed, and the crowd definitely got their money’s worth.”
The girls’ game was a nail biter up until the very end, with the 1A, 2A, and 3A girls defeating the 4A girls, 72-71.
The boys’ game was both competitive and high-scoring, with the 4A boys defeating the 1A/2A/3A team, 92-70.
Melendez said this year’s Native American All-Star Showcase served as a chance for the younger kids to see their role models in action.
With Native American students making up a very small percentage of college athletes, one of the main goals of the showcase is to assist with recruiting efforts by having coaches and recruiters attend the games.
In the years to come, Melendez hopes to extend the showcase to the surrounding West Coast states so other Native players and coaches can participate.
“Now that the word got out, this will just get bigger and bigger,” said Melendez. “We may even need a bigger venue.”
Visit www.rsic.org to learn more about the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony.
Jarrette Werk is a journalism student at the University of Nevada, Reno, and works for the Sierra Nevada Media Group as an intern, writing and taking photos for First Nation’s Focus. Email him at email@example.com.