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Interview: Filmmaker follows Shoni Schimmel 'Off the Rez'

"Shoni Schimmel streaks down the left side of the court, her long brown ponytail bouncing in the air behind her. At full speed, she uses her right hand to wrap the ball behind her back and through her legs, before gently laying it off the backboard with her left. Her defenders, now a few steps behind her, never stood a chance.

Schimmel is from the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon. Situated a few miles outside of Pendleton and just north of the Blue Mountains; Umatilla is home to around three thousand Native Americans. For Shoni, it is also her proving ground. She plays ‘rez ball,’ a ferocious, attacking style of basketball, fueled by passion, creativity and relentless aggressiveness. It is this flare and fearlessness that has resulted in many declaring Schimmel the second coming of Pistol Pete Maravich. A comparison that, while initially seeming improbable, is startlingly accurate.

With her junior year approaching, Shoni’s mother, Ceci, (they are left to right in photo) was offered a coaching position at Portland’s Franklin high school. Seeing this as an opportunity to chase a dream and battle against generations of oppression and bigotry, Shoni and her family leave the reservation and embark on a battle that tests their strength, spirit and tenacity.

Eight-time Emmy award winner and long-time friend of SLAM’s, Jonathan Hock (learn more about him at documents the journey in Off the Rez and caught up with SLAM this past week."

Get the Story:
New Movie: Off the Rez (Slam Online 4/25)

Related Stories:
Documentary follows Shoni Schimmel, Umatilla basketball star (4/4)

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