Growing up in Navajo culture in Utah, Quiana Dishface remembers learning to play basketball on dirt. She developed a passion for the game and went on to play in high school, off the reservation.
Now, Quiana is now more than 2,000 miles away from home, playing basketball for Springfield Technical Community College.
Producer Dave Fraser spoke with Quiana – and two other players from the Navajo Nation – and brings us the story.
Read the full transcript:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: Growing up in Navajo culture in Utah, Quiana Dishface remembers learning to play basketball on dirt.
She developed a passion for the game and went on to play in high school, off the reservation, and is now more than 2,000 miles away from her home, playing for Springfield Technical Community College.
Producer Dave Fraser spoke with Quiana — and two other players from the Navajo Nation — and brings us the story.
Quiana Dishface, STCC Women’s Basketball Player: When I first touched a basketball, it was something that I knew I wanted to do.
Dave Fraser, Connecting Point: Quiana Dishface has a passion for basketball. It’s a game she was introduced to growing up on a Navajo reservation in Montezuma Creek, Utah.
Quiana Dishface: I grew up beside a river. My house is right next to the San Juan River.
I used to live in a hogan that’s made of sand, and so I slept on a dirt floor. I slept on sheepskin. The cold nights, the sheepskins kept me warm by the fire, and it’s just — just home.
Dave Fraser: Qiana is one of three players from the Navajo Nation who were recruited to play basketball at Springfield Technical Community College.
Lakoda Micaela Jim, STCC Women’s Basketball Player: When I first came, everyone thought I was Hispanic. They’re like, “Can you speak Spanish?” And they thought I was from Mexico. I was like, “No, I’m from New Mexico.”
But yeah, I think…I really like it here.
Zoey Lynn Natonabah, STCC Women’s Basketball Player: Back home, it’s very dry, like it’s really hot during the summer, but here it’s like a lot of moisture and there’s a lot of trees. And that’s one thing I felt…I found interesting and new to me when I came here.
Lakoda Micaela Jim: I feel like us three understand each other because we’re all Navajos. And, like, it’s really funny, especially on the court, we just look at each other and look at a certain place and they’re like, “OK, I know what you mean.”
Zoey Lynn Natonabah: Like just one look —
Lakoda Micaela Jim: Like, just like we can just connect with just one look.
Dave Fraser: Prior to coming to STCC, Quiana played her high school ball in Utah. She chose to play off the reservation in the nearby town of Blanding.
She says those years were difficult because of how people treated her.
Quiana Dishface: I was different and I…I knew it. From the moment I stepped in the classrooms, I was treated different. I felt like all eyes were on me, yet nobody sat by me. Nobody wanted to be friends with me. Nobody even took interest to seeing who I am as a person.
Dave Fraser: Despite those challenges, she says that time in her life made her stronger and changed the stereotypes that existed.
Quiana Dishface: Now they see me for who I am. They see the unique side of me. They see how smart I am. They see…just how kind I am. And now I’m friends with a lot of people in Blanding and I broke many barriers and now I feel like Blanding is unified.
So, yeah, I just I’m just proud of where I come from and proud of who I am, and I just didn’t let it — didn’t let it put me down.
Ed Guczek, STCC Women’s Basketball Head Coach: Ok, let’s bringing in ladies.
Dave Fraser: Ed Guczek is the head coach of the women’s team. It’s a program he started from scratch in 2016.
Ed Guczek: One of the things that we built is not only recruiting basketball players, but strong women. Strong women that have goals and aspirations where they want to go and achieve, not only in the basketball court, but also academically as well.
I’m very proud of the fact that the school embraces culture. And that’s very, very important to them because in some situations, they’ve experienced a prejudice in the past.
And I want I wanted to, basically, welcome them with open arms so that they could have a new horizon, a new opportunity, that they could enjoy college life, and they can enjoy their basketball career.