Michael Jordan once said, “Talent wins games. Teamwork and intelligence wins championships. Teamwork and intelligence helped the Fort Thomas Apaches win their 12th Arizona Interscholastic Association 1A Boys Basketball Tournament on Feb. 22, 2020.
The San Carlos Apache Tribe held a victory parade for the team and fans on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. Community members from San Carlos, Bylas and Fort Thomas came to join in on the celebration, showing their support and team spirit.
The Nnee Bich’o Nii Team came together that day and entered a float in the parade. Their “Head Coach”, Bernie Kniffin and “Assistant Coach” David Francis were away on travel with Angelo Belvado preparing for future projects for Apache Transit. Velticia Zospah and Anthony “Bunny” Henry stepped up and led the team of counselors, office staff and construction and maintenance crew to create an amazing entry. They were the first ones on the field, ready and eager to put together their vision.
The Construction and Maintenance Crew began building the float on Monday, creating a giant, golden basketball made of paper mache and cut out 11 circles which were painted orange to represent a basketball. Each of those represented every year the Fort Thomas Boys’ Basketball team won the title; 1963, 1967, 1980, 1989, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001 and 2005. The giant, golden basketball journeyed on to Bylas on Wednesday morning, where the crew assembled their vision and stepped aside for the office staff to decorate. There were balloons and streamers and shiny tassels everywhere. “Let’s try this” or “What if we did it like this?” was heard and there were at least three others adding to the idea and working together to make it happen. An hour and a half later, they all agreed they were done, they created a masterpiece and briefly rested while they waited for the procession to begin.
Andrew Betom, Nnee Bich’o Nii Participant, created the image of the Fort Thomas Apaches symbol; a crown dancer painted in yellow on a blue backdrop. His artwork was so impressive that the Fort Thomas Elementary Boys & Girls Basketball teams posed next to it. Both these teams Champions, as well. (Additional information regarding their wins was unavailable at print time).
As they made their way down the street, they handed out Nnee Bich’o Nii promotional items and candy, of course. Compliments were given, children oohed and awed at the giant, golden basketball. Many of the onlookers were pleasantly surprised to see that Nnee Bich’o Nii gave recognition to the other 11 teams. As they neared the end, the Champions were walking toward the Bylas Exhibit Hall where a community luncheon was being held in their honor. They stopped and posed with Nnee Bich’o Nii’s giant, golden basketball.
The Nnee Bich’o Nii Team reached the end of the parade and they all pitched in to take apart their creation. Nothing is wasted; items that can be used for future projects are put away. The lumber used to make the mount for the giant, golden basketball and the 11 circles will be used by the Construction and Maintenance Crew for various projects.
To watch this Team work together is indescribable; everyone has a role, everyone has an idea, everyone has a talent that is not overlooked or ignored and they all work together to make it happen. They all laughed and joked while they worked. To see that kind of camaraderie is rare and that is what makes Nnee Bich’o Nii so successful.