24 members inducted into RSIC Athletics Hall of Fame’s second class
RENO, Nev. — The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony inducted its second-ever Athletics Hall of Fame class in November, with a mission not just to honor the colony’s past athletes and culture, but to inspire its current generation of athletes.
With a class of 24 inductees, the 2017 Hall of Fame class is highlighted by its first female athletes — Ramona Darrough, Ivy L, Christy and Lorri Chasing Crow; and two former Golden Glove boxers — cousins Steve and Chuck Sampson. Steve Sampson boxed during his service as a United States Marine in the late 70s.
The Nov. 2 ceremony, held at the Colony Gym, 34 Reservation Road, started with prayer and included a community dinner, honor songs, a keynote speaker and speeches by representatives of the inductees.
Randy Melendez, an assistant in the RSIC Recreation Department who developed the idea for the Athletics Hall of Fame, gave the keynote.
Melendez — a retired high school educator who is a member of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Hall of Fame — was part of the RSIC’s inaugural Hall of Fame Class of 2015.
Melendez who is responsible for most of the colony’s historical research, said that the tribe wants to have an Athletics Hall of Fame for three reasons.
“We want to honor our past because these athletes were really remarkable, and sports like running and basketball are still a big part of the culture of our community,” said Melendez, a former college athlete. “Plus, we want to send a message to our youth that these are role models, and if today’s athletes work hard, they, too, can be anything they want to be.”
Melendez also believes there skills learned through athletics are important like skills, too.
“Sports guided me to my place in the world,” Melendez said. “From an early age, with support from my family and some very influential coaches, I saw the value and opportunities that athletics could provide me not just to stay close to sports, but ultimately to build a career.”
Native Americans — despite being part of 562 federal recognized American Indian tribes in the United States — are the most under-represented ethnicity on NCAA teams.
“We believe that by honoring our past athletes, our youth will be inspired to strive for their own excellence,” Melendez said. “My dream came true and I got to be teacher and coach, so I am proof that athletics can lead to a healthy, happy, quality existence.”
This article first published in the RSIC’s monthly newsletter, The Camp News, in its November edition, and is republished by First Nation’s Focus with permission. Visit http://www.rsic.org/rsic-newsletter to learn more.
The phrase “Indian Education” itself invokes generations of federal legislation aimed to assimilate via education. Modern day, the Title VI Indian Education Program administered by the Bureau of Indian Education provides federal funds to various educational institutions of students enrolled in federally recognized tribes.