By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Tori Teesateskie, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, is making her mark at the collegiate level in her freshman year with the Johnson University (Tenn.) Lady Royals. She was recently named to the NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association) Mideast All-Region Team.
“I was surprised that I got it,” said Teesateskie. “Yeah, I accomplished it, but there’s more that I need to accomplish. I was excited that I got it and surprised at the same time.”
Teesateskie, a Cherokee High School graduate and former Lady Brave, was the only freshman named to the five-person First Team All-Region list. “It’s a huge accomplishment,” said Caylee Braziel, Johnson University women’s basketball head coach. “It’s just an incredible accomplishment, and we are super, super proud of her to represent Johnson and our program. I am so excited about her potential as she goes into her sophomore, junior, and senior years. She’s got a lot of potential. I can’t wait.”
She finished the regular season with 460 points (20.9/game) shooting 43.9 percent from the field, 39.11 percent from three-point land, and 80.77 percent from the free throw line. “She really can have a 2,000 point career which not many basketball players do,” said Braziel who noted that Teesateskie’s points per game statistic is the highest in the entire Mideast Region. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she gets MVP next year or the year after – she really deserves it.”
While the Lady Royals lost 63-60 to Great Lakes Christian College in the semifinals of the Mideast Region tournament on Friday, Feb. 28, Teesateskie hit 8 of 10 three-point shots. Braziel commented, “She was on. She is the purest, probably the best, women’s three-point shooter I’ve ever seen.”
The Lady Royals now move on to the NCCAA Tournament as a No. 7 seed where they will face No. 2 seed Manhattan Christian College on Thursday, March 12 at 4 p.m. in Joplin, Mo. Teesateskie is now, and has been all season, focused on her team rather than her statistics.
“To me, it’s not an individual sport, it’s a team sport,” she said. “Sharing the ball, looking to see who’s open on the court, and making sure other players get open and we get the best shot that we can get is really an important part of why I like to play because out of all of the accomplishments I’ve had, I wouldn’t have accomplished them if it wasn’t for my teammates.”
A lot of Teesateskie’s success in high school and in college has been due to her work ethic. “She is an incredible worker,” said Braziel. “She stays in the gym and keeps working, goes after it. She’s the first one there. I’ve seen her kick into even higher gear as the year’s gone on which is just incredible. Tori is the kind of player that is so composed, so even-keeled; which really brings consistency. Part of what makes her so good is she is so consistent.”
Teesateskie noted, “I know that practice is going to be hard, but if I want to better myself I’m going to have to do it on my own. I think it’s really important that I go and get in the extra shots and I go and work on what I need to work on.”
She said her biggest focus is really representing the Tribe to the best of her ability. “I am thankful for the opportunity to represent my Tribe, and I want to set an example for future kids. Even though this isn’t a big division school, I’m still a minority student who is making it.”