The No. 1 ranked Hamilton Huskies girls basketball team is set to compete against No. 4 Dobson in the State 6A Semi-Finals this Wednesday, March 17. This Huskies team is stronger than ever and their bond goes beyond what you see on the court.
Like many high school basketball teams across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented them from having traditional basketball practices for some time. Instead, the Huskies participated in basketball class, which gave them an opportunity to educate their teammates about topics the girls found important.
For Haili Trevino Gonzales, this was a chance to share about an issue occurring in her culture as a part of the Gila River Indian Community.
“It’s been a big pandemic with MMIW which is missing and murdered indigenous women,” said Trevino Gonzales. “We have a few native girls not only on varsity but the JV and freshman, sophomore team so I thought it would not only be a great time to educate them but educate everyone else on the team.”
Huskies girls basketball head coach Trevor Neider turned basketball classes into a way for the girls to get to know each other on a deeper, more personal level.
“It was an opportunity for them to share their experiences, a little bit of what they’ve gone through and what they’re doing and just to educate other people,” Neider said. “We kind of hold ourselves to a higher standard, that we’re maybe part of the group that needs to be positive and make a better change.”
Trevino Gonzales used this chance as more than just a way to pass time when the pandemic kept the team off of the hardwood.
“We are a very multi-cultured team so I thought like we’d be able to help represent each other and get to know a little bit about each other,” Trevino Gonzales said. “I was really grateful that he gave me the opportunity to let them know because there’s about eight native girls total on the team and one of the statistics is that one-in-five native girls goes missing.”
The Senior shooting guard wanted to make these statistics known to her teammates so they could understand that at any moment one of their own could go missing.
Despite coming from different backgrounds, Trevino Gonzales and her teammate Amari Burnette share similar experiences. With full support from their coach, the girls focussed their presentation on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Burnette and Trevino Gonzales are thankful they are part of a diverse team that celebrates differences.
“I’m just grateful that we have that because we’re also able to see different perspectives and learn about each other’s cultures,” said Burnette. “Having that representation on the team really helps us see different views that we probably wouldn’t have seen if our team wasn’t as diverse.”
Learning more about her own culture led Trevino Gonzales to make warmup shirts for her team to wear with information about the MMIW movement.
“Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to wear them to one of the games because of the school but I do plan on wearing it for one of the playoff games,” Trevino Gonzales said.
Trevino Gonzales has not only become an advocate for her community but those she’s surrounded by as well. Recently the Huskies celebrated senior night and Trevino Gonzales decorated her senior night t-shirt on behalf of all of the movements her team stands behind.
Over the last several months the team has become closer because of the time they took to learn about each other’s cultures.
“When we’re on the court not only do we play for ourselves but we play for everyone out there, we play for the girls who can’t play, we play for these movements to show awareness for them,” said Trevino Gonzales. “On the court, we just play like ten times better after having these conversations.”
Now the Hamilton Huskies Girls Basketball team is headed into the state semi-finals more bonded than ever.