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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


February 8, 2003 - Issue 80


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Choctaw Basketball Coach Experiences Success at the Jr. College Level

by Gerald Wofford Native American Times

credits: Photo: Nick Durant, courtesy of Carl Albert State College


Nick DurantWhen Nick Durant took the Women's Basketball Head Coaching job at Carl Albert State College five years ago, he knew he was in for a challenge. After all, the Junior College program had been on a proverbial downslide for a while.

But Durant, who is Choctaw Tribal citizen, was willing to get to work. Durant knew the price of success would be high, but so could be the rewards. He had coached winning programs at places such as Eastern Oklahoma State College, Rogers State College and Bacone College before coming to Carl Albert which is located in Poteau, Oklahoma.

Durant, saw his Lady Viking team win only five games his first year of coaching. By the time the second season rolled around, Durant was able to recruit his type of players and install his brand of basketball, which called for a quick, high-scoring type of game. Durant's team would win eleven games, but each year saw a steady improvement while the third and fourth year reached a high point of 18 and 16 wins respectively.

Durant's fifth year would be the jackpot so far. His Basketball team would win twenty-six and lose only six. The Lady Viking team would finish runner-up in the Region II Tournament finals, but not after posting a first ever Top 20 National Jr. College Athletic Association (NJCAA) ranking. The team was also ranked nationally in the categories of scoring average, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, and free throws.

It is that high-scoring philosophy that Coach Durant stresses from his team. He was able to receive that from an all-Native American starting team during the 2001-2002 season that boasted two All-Americans in Laura Hamilton and Kim Lewis. Hamilton, who is Choctaw and Chickasaw and Lewis who is Wichita, Kiowa, and Pawnee both received scholarships to play basketball. Lewis at the University of Sciences and Arts and Hamilton at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, respectively.

Durant's remaining basketball gems included Toni Price-Choctaw, Julie Davis-Choctaw, and Kelli Himes Griffith-Choctaw/Caddo. Himes, who was All Conference and All-region last year, accepted a full scholarship to play at Northeastern Oklahoma State University in Tahlequah. Davis also received academic all-American honors.

Price and Davis return to the team that so far is reflecting the success of last year. At the mid-season break, the Lady Vikings are 13-1 with a national ranking of 25 in the latest NJCAA rankings. The team is also ranked third in the Nation in scoring, as well having a 3 point shooting percentage that is ranked higher than any other team in the Nation so far. Three times this year, the Lady Viking team has scored over 100 points in victories, with scores of 101-66, 115-62 and 121-47. "I let the team shoot," laughs Durant, "we love to score!"

Durant admits being grateful to his well-represented Native American roster and their contribution to the success of the team. Besides Price and Davis, seven other Native American women are also members of this year's team. But it was never Durant' s intent to solely recruit Native American players. "Every step in the evolution of this team has happened naturally," says Durnat. "I recruit players, I didn't recruit them because they are Indian, but because they are good players. I don't know about the success, it just happened that way."

But it is still good to know that a very successful Jr. College Women's Basketball team owes a lot of its success to Native American women.

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