Diné College Revives Basketball ProgramJan 29th, 2016 | By Lori Tapahonso | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive
The 2015-2016 academic year marks the return of collegiate basketball to Diné College. Under the guidance of the men’s head basketball coach, Warlance Foster and head women’s coach, Lemix Benally, the teams are currently sanctioned through the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA). The college recently requested admittance to the larger association of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) for its 2016-17 season.
The men’s team scheduled nine games this season with schools like Northern New Mexico, Future College, Johnson & Wales University, and Oglala Lakota College. The women’s team scheduled six games this season with teams from the University of Southwest, California Miramar University, Bristol University, Rhema College, and Oglala Lakota College.
The last time men’s and women’s basketball teams were active on was in 1987 when the college was known as Navajo Community College. Warlance Foster made reviving the basketball program a priority when hired as athletic director in July, 2015. “The goal of the first season is to develop the structure and system to build a successful basketball program, getting the gym in compliance with collegiate rules and regulations, and compete against other collegiate teams,” Foster says.
Foster said he hopes to develop a tough schedule for the teams next season in order to improve their capabilities. “There is a major difference between a rez ball team and a structured disciplined college team,” he explains. “Height, ability, and the speed of the collegiate game need to be experienced. [We need to] develop a tough schedule for next season with schools like Fort Lewis, Western State, Adams State, Haskell, Northern New Mexico, and I am working on playing a few Division 1 schools. [This] schedule will help in recruiting the top Navajo players on the rez.”
The men’s and women’s teams each have two games remaining in their regular schedules. They will both compete in the Oglala Lakota Round Robin on January 30 in Kyle, South Dakota, and then face-off against basketball powerhouse Oglala Lakota College on February 20 in Tsaile, Arizona.