PHOENIX — Quick! In U.S. sports, who would you name as the greatest all around athlete of the past century?
Most sports enthusiasts would say Jim Thorpe. But, many may not know that the multi-talented Olympic gold medalist, who also played pro baseball and football, was also a Pottawatomie Indian from Oklahoma.
This week, thousands of Native American athletes from around the country hope to show their sports greatness, too, at the 13th Annual Lori Piestewa National Native American Games in Fountain Hills.
“Our first games kick off Thursday night with basketball,” said Gary Nees with the Grand Canyon State Games (GCSG). “On Friday, at six in the morning, we do cross country, and then the other six sports follow throughout the weekend.”
As of Wednesday morning, Nees said the softball, volleyball, basketball and baseball tournaments were already bracketed and closed to new entries, “but, the individual sports — wrestling, cross country and track — are all open.”
Nees noted that the GCSG named the competition after Navajo native Lori Piestewa because she was a national and local hero and.
“She was an athlete in high school, a three sport letterman, basketball, track, cross country,” said Nees.
Piestewa was the first Native American Woman ever killed in combat. She died in 2003 when her vehicle was attacked during the U.S. invasion in Iraq.
To see what’s open, where to go, and what times the games are starting, visit the Grand Canyon State Games website.