TUBA CITY, Ariz. — Sophia Katherine-Ray Honahni, 17, a senior at Tuba City High School recently won the All-American First Team Volleyball Award and a $1,500 academic scholarship given to athletes not just for their sport skills, but for their commitment and service history.
The “First Team Volleyball Award” was presented to Honahni at the Gilbert American Leadership Academy last week by the Dairy Council of Arizona and the Arizona Coaches Association as a joint partnership for gifted Arizona high school athletes.
Honahni is the daughter of Angela Riggs and Gary Honahni, and step-dad Gary Riggs. Honahni is from the Navajo, Hopi and Tewa tribes.
Honahni is also a member of the Tuba City High School National Honor Society and has been involved in community service through the high school organization for the past few years, which helped her win the recognition from the Dairy Council and the AZ Coaches Association this year.
Honahni has shown promise in science coursework at Tuba City High School, particularly in anatomy and physiology.
She credits her TCHS science teacher Effie Hyden with providing much of her academic inspiration. Honahni says that Hyden is interested in all kinds of science and that has made it very easy for Honahni to be curious about the human body, animals, the environment and Mother Earth.
Being from a tri-tribal background, Honahni said it’s easy to relate to the importance of caring for the earth mother, along with knowledge of science discipline.
“Although I play a lot of volleyball, which takes up a large part of my day, I also really like giving back to our community and volunteering in any way I can,” Honahni said. “When I volunteer, it helps me meet other new people in our community and I really enjoy that too. My own culture and family values help with my volunteering and helping in the community is a big part of my life with my friends and family members.”
One of Tuba City Unified School District’s main goals is for students to build strong athletic skills along with a solid academic background to help them become successful
Honahni is one of the examples for Tuba City High School in blending her family and cultural values along with readying herself academically for the next step, college.
“I can’t name just one person at Tuba City High School who has really helped me because there are really just so many good teachers here who have helped me out individually through these years,” she said. “But there are a few that just come to mind immediately. Ms. Raye Lynn McCabe was my Algebra II and Calculus teacher. She just has such a beautiful soul and is so inspiring. She continues to inspire me on not just an academic level or sports level but on a personal level. She has made my years at Tuba City High so much fun. She always put a smile on my face and encouraged me, even before I was taking one of her finals that I would sometimes just dread.
Honahni said that Hyden was an inspiration to her, too.
“I just adore her science classes,” Honahni said. “I love the way she teaches us. And then Mr. Ruben Ruiz, he’s no longer at TCHS, but he used to be our assistant principal and our Spanish teacher. He would constantly encourage me to do my best and to stay away from boys…ha. He would always say, Sophie, you have a lot to contribute back to your own community. “
Honahni said she is looking forward to college and can thank her mom and her older sister Lucia for their support and encouragement as well.
“My mom and older sister, Lucia, always tell me to do my best and would tell us stories about our great-grandfather, who really believed in higher education and just wanted us to go all the way we could in the education field,” Honahni said. “My sister and I would study late in the kitchen together, when she was already in college and I in high school. She would come home with huge textbooks and piles of notes and I would just think….I want to be just like her. Then I see some of my other friends who have gone onto college and hear about their success and I think….I want to be like them too. I am so honored by this special award.”
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