Tri-Ute Games: From an athlete’s perspective

Tri-Ute Games
The annual Tri-Ute Games returned to Fort Duchesne, UT this year. Athletes from the three Ute tribes enjoyed friendly competition in a number of sports June 14-18.
Tri-Ute, Archery – Kristopher White
Tri-Ute, Basketball – Lakota TwoCrow
Tri-Ute, Bowling – Lexy young
Tri-Ute, Golf – Nate Hendren
Tri-Ute, Volleyball – Jerrika Valenzuela
Tri-Ute, Ute Warrior Challenge – Keifer GoodTracks-Alires
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Trennie Collins | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Sacha Smith | The Southern Ute Drum
Trennie Collins | The Southern Ute Drum
Trennie Collins | The Southern Ute Drum

Tri-Ute 2015

The Tri-Ute Games, is a gathering of our three sister tribes, the Northern Utes, the Ute Mountain Utes, and the Southern Utes. This year the Tri-Ute Games was held in Fort Duchesne, UT. Around 80 Southern Ute athletes attended and I was one of them. They offered a lot of sports to participate in such as: Basketball, Volleyball, Archery, Cross Country, Golf, Bowling, Hand Games, and the Ute Warrior Challenge which was held at the end of the week. The age groups varied from 9-18.

New this year was that we were able to participate in up to three sports. But my little brothers participated in five sports. From an athlete’s perspective it was amazing to be able to hang out with my friends and being able to make new ones. Personally, I participated in Bowling, and Basketball.

Day one we attended the opening ceremonies held at the Fort Duchesne Gymnasium. There were guest speakers, our families were there, and all the tribes were there. It felt good to be able to look around and see my people, my family, my brothers, sisters, and people who were going to be my new friends. A prayer was said so no one gets hurt, and that we would have fun.


Let the Games Begin!

The Games started out with boys basketball ages 12-15, while my team the boys’ basketball 16-18 coached by Travis Nanaeto went back to our hotel, the Best Western. The hotel was lovely; although it was still in the remodeling stage we were able to find some rooms.

Our first game was against the Northern Ute Tribe. Unfortunately, we were defeated by 14 points. We shook hands signifying the sportsmanship they had. As were walking away one of their players congratulated us, he told us that he was expecting them to “murder” us. He told us that he wasn’t expecting us to be that fast, or being able to play at their level, that is what we call respect.

At the end of the day we all attended a dinner that was held by the volunteers, they cooked us amazing food, props to them for that. All the tribes were there, our coach challenged us to go and meet other people, go visit with our relatives. I had left to go sit with my family from Ute Mountain. I sat with three people, Hanley, Savannah, and Danita. They were pretty cool, I never knew they were my family until I met them, it felt good to be able to sit with my relatives from our sister tribes. I had the opportunity to meet with some guys from Northern Ute, but I backed out, I got scared.

Day two, they had called for bowling, but it was almost time for our next game, so I had to stay behind and play some ball. I was sad yes for letting down my bowling squad, but I heard they did fine without me. As the team was getting ready our coach told us that our game wasn’t until the next day, I was furious, I had called off bowling to play basketball, but it was alright I still got to go watch my little brother’s golf session. My little brothers, Nate, and Elliott Hendren participated in five sports; they did Golf, Bowling, Cross- Country, Archery, and the Ute Warrior Challenge. My little brother Issac Suina also attend the games, he participated in Golf, bowling, and Archery.

As we progressed throughout the day we started to split up into these groups, we are all mixed up – some of us with the other tribes. We made these bracelets that signified our friendship; the bracelets had these beads on them that represented the three tribes. We made our bracelets with the beads that represents our name, favorite food, favorite place, our group color, and this UV bead that changes color when it is out in the sun. They told us that we needed to find someone we didn’t know to trade them bracelets. It was a good exercise; we were able to interact with other people.

As we finished out the day we had dinner again, with all the tribes. Our coach challenged us to invite someone we’ve met over to our tables. I invited Danita over, but she would rather sit with her family. So I was the only one who failed the challenge that day.

The next morning we headed to the gym to have lunch, again they called for bowling, and again I had to cancel due to the basketball game; my team needed me to play some ball. Though the three-sport participation was a good idea it often put athletes in the situation of having to pick one sport over another. Our next match was against Ute Mountain, before we played coach told us to say a prayer for this game. Pray so that we won’t get hurt and we win. We won that game; we destroyed them, by 43 points. We shook their hands, and they said that we are a great team and they are proud of us having that much skill from a small town like Ignacio.

The third day they started a sign-up for the co-ed basketball game. I signed up with high hopes, but alas it wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be. We played for only 2 quarters and each quarter was only 5 minutes. I didn’t get to play as much as I thought I would. We lost by one point. It was a fun experience being able to play with people from the sister tribes.

After that they had the Co-Ed Volley ball game, my buddy Cesar Corona plays. It was fun watching him play, it was his first time playing the game so I had to give him props. At the end of the day we headed to the Marina for a beach party. I didn’t stay long; because it got boring I didn’t bring my trunks so I stayed on the shore until my friend Hunter Frost asked if I wanted to go with him to the store. So we went back to the hotel to relax and soak up the last day we were there.

The last day we were there my brothers participated in the Ute Warrior Challenge, which included running, archery, cycling, and swimming. The night before they went out they told me that they were afraid that they weren’t going to do so well. I told them it wasn’t about competition it was about having fun and putting your bodies to the test, they ended up finishing fourth. I couldn’t be anymore happier for them, knowing that they completed it made me proud. We went to our own little closing ceremonies where we got our shirts, and personal bags. It was a fun trip, definitely something that I would want to happen again.




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