Shoni Schimmel’s career in the Women’s National Association may be coming to an end … and it won’t be a happy ending for all the people who looked up to her.
Considered a role model when she played for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team, Shoni and her sister Jude attracted hundreds of Native Americans at home and road games. They celebrated when Shoni was picked by the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA draft in 2014.
Shoni would get off to a good start in the WNBA, averaging 8.3 points and more than 21 minutes of playing time per game. She was voted to the NBA All-Star team in her first season, going on to earn Most Valuable Player honors while leading the East to a 125-124 overtime win over the West.
Instead of going overseas to play basketball, Shoni elected to go home to the reservation after the season. She returned the next season to Atlanta needing to play herself into shape, starting slowly but finishing the season averaging 7.6 points per game.
Atlanta wasn’t happy with Shoni’s lack of commitment during the off-season, trading her this year to the New York Liberty. Schimmel again was out of shape, needing to recover from her time off on the reservation.
New York Liberty is 17-7 and leading the WNBA’s Eastern Conference. Shoni has not been a factor, however, averaging less than five minutes of playing time in 16 of the team’s 24 games.
Schimmel scored six points on a couple of 3-pointers in an 88-70 loss to the Minnesota Lynx six games ago but has not scored since. She was scoreless in three games and didn’t see the floor in the two other games.
Disappointing that Shoni loses her motivation between seasons, failing to stay in shape. That’s unfortunate for her — and all the young Native American girls who looked up to her.