Shoni Schimmel sets foot on the court for the first time in a University of Louisville practice uniform at the KFC Yum! Center in October.

Not many Native Americans in this region. Definitely no Indian reservations. Difficult to imagine the “stigma” that these folks sense in some far western states.

After viewing the “Off The Rez” documentary on the TLC Network, we know much more about the challenges facing Shoni Schimmel and family, endearing them even more to University of Louisville fans, if that’s possible.

Can’t wait to see her team up with little sister Jude next season.

The observer was there when Schimmel first set foot on the court at the new KFC Yum! Center for her opening practice session last October, happily welcoming her to Louisville. A quick smile and a thank you from Shoni.

We were also there for her first college basketball game, against the University of Tennessee in front of 22,000+plus fans. Shoni was a little tight that night, committing eight turnovers, all of them within the first minutes, while making only three assists. Still obvious, however, that she was a gifted floor leader and ball handler, her confidence growing every time she touched the ball.

As the season progressed, she would display many other skills while starting all 35 games, scoring 528 points, averaging 15.1 points, 4.9 assists and two steals per game. An extraordinary season for a college freshman.

Far from the reservation, she is thriving in Louisville, her home away from home.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

15 thoughts on “Shoni Schimmel’s new Louisville home”
  1. You know what is so amazing here is that someone had enough insight more than two years ago to begin planning, then filming this documentary, with no script of how it would end.  Not to mention the fact that this piece featured a female athlete.  Here’s hoping there is a budget to assure a followup (which could trace her leading the Lady Cards to their first national championship).  Thank you Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos.  GO CARDS!  

  2. Schimmel had been on Louisville’s radar for a long time, even before she headed to Portland. When other schools backed off after the ankle injury, Louisville remained strong in their interest. A testimony to Jeff Walz’s knack for discovering talent and putting in the work to secure it.

  3. Shoni is joy to have around and she’s going to be even happier here with her sister Jude as a teammate. Really nice to have seen the documentary, allowing us to appreciate her even more. She has a great personality and is a tremendous ambassador for the university. Go get ’em, Shoni. We want you to experience tremendous success in life.

  4. I watched The Rez last night. Mark and Kelly produced a great documentary. I too have a daughter who also dreams of going to college one day to play basketball. This was very inspiring and an eyeopener too. I wish Shoni all the best in Louiville..

  5. “Something” told me to turn on my television last night and put the channel on TLC. I couldn’t believe the amazing and beautiful story I was so blessed to watch. I was constantly “rooting” for Shoni and her family as I heard them speak of all their struggles in life – present and past. Shoni, you are an amazingly strong, resilient young lady with such a bright present and future. Your entire family beautifully exemplifies courage, determination, strength of heart, soul, and character, and resilience to overcome the unfortunate prejudice they’ve seen. You and your family are truly inspirational, Shoni, and I am deeply grateful you all shared your story with us all in such an authentic documentary. May God bless you ALL and keep you safe, and may you enjoy much peace, love, and happiness. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart! Go Shoni and team!

  6. On some off chance I turned on TLC last evening and saw “Off the Rez”. I was hooked in the first 5 minutes of the program. What an amazing service this documentary, TLC and most importantly Shoni Schimmel and her awesome family has provided Native Americans. I was certainly impressed by the ‘mad skillz’ that Shoni has but more importantly the dedication to their family that Shoni’s parents have is quite humbling! Shoni you are a class act and I wish you the best of luck in your college (and God willing WNBA) career. I have just become a Louisville Cards Basketball fan and definately a Shoni fan!

  7. I told a person about Shoni when she was 12 that led to this documentary. That person didnt really grasp onto her until she hit high school. Then it was downhill from there. Watching her from Tiny tot to where she’s at now is amazing. Shoni and Jude have been on “our rez radar” long before everything 😉 The next great Umatilla who ppl are watching is a 5th grader named Mary Stewart.

  8. I had the opportunity to play against her when we were in High School. I knew she would be a badass player. Just her by herself, she would kill our defense. I would never forget the face of our coach when Shoni would pull the 3 almost from half court. Cant wait to see what more she will accomplish in the future.

  9. A great female version of the the documentary Hoop Dreams that came out in the mid 90’s.

  10. Osiyo,

    Been following Shonis career for a while now and I was very excited on her choice to come to my home town. Reports of her promise to be one of the greatest have been floating around for many moons. Even more excited after seeing the doc on TLC and at Tribeca, and am turning many people on to it and the womens program at UofL. However a side comment here, there are many Native Americans in this region, I’m proud of it and talk openly, but when even in recent weeks as I personally experienced at my employer, people make jokes about our heritage, most of my people prefer to remain under the radar.

    James “Tsali” Washington
    Eastern Band Cherokee

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