PHOENIX, Ariz. - The Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI) is an organization that allows Native American high school athletes a chance at receiving college athletic scholarships. The tournament features over 80 tribal teams from the United States and Canada. NABI was certified by NCAA in 2007 as the first all Native American tournament. The sponsors include the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury, Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals, U.S. Airways Center, Merck, 21Native.com, Navajo Times, and Verve. It is presented by Nike, Ak-Chin Indian Community, the University of Phoenix and their newest honorary commissioners Amare Stoudemire, and Diana Taurasi.
Six of the Hopi JROTC color guard team members started their morning early on July 11-12 by arriving to Hopi High School at 6 a.m. to load their van. The six cadets included Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Dominique Halwood, Cadet Command Sergeant Major Amber Naha, and Cadet Major Whitney Damgaard, Cadet 1st Lieutenant Samantha Manycows, Cadet 1st Lieutenant Waukere Joe, and Cadet 1st Lieutenant Candice Tso. The cadets were both excited and happy that they were going to the NABI games to present colors, But not nervous! They were motivated and ready to give it their best.
Upon arriving in Phoenix, the cadets were very anxious to get in the pool - mainly because the temperature was 106 degrees. They stayed in suites and went to a swimming park where they enjoyed swimming for an hour. Then, they went to eat and got ready to present by 4 p.m. By 4:30, they presented the National Flag, the Arizona State flag, and the Hopi flag, followed by two rifle carriers. The first rifle carrier was Cadet 1st Lt. Samantha Manycows, the National flag was carried by Cadet Lt. Colonel Dominique Halwood, the Arizona state flag was carried by Cadet Major Whitney Damgaard, the Hopi flag was carried by Cadet Command Sergeant Major Amber Naha, and the 2nd rifle carrier was Cadet 1st Lt. Waukere Joe. Cadet 1st Lt. Candice Tso was calling cadence and commands. When they were done, the cadets stayed to watch the game a while before leaving to eat dinner, and enjoy a walk around the Metro mall for an hour. They then, retired themselves to their suites and prepared for their trip back home the next morning.
On Sunday, the cadets were on their way back home by 9 a.m. They picked up breakfast just before leaving Phoenix and arrived back to the school at 1:30. They were both excited and happy to be out of that dry, hot air and back at home.
Overall, it was a nice and fun trip because they made the best of it and had fun. They did a good job and that's what made it great.