CAITLIN O'HARA

Rezball

Chinle, Navajo Nation

Despite many of the teammates living an hour away from school or more, the players of the Chinle High School Mens Basketball team are brothers. Their tribal nation sprawls across northern Arizona and southern Utah and New Mexico. The players and their families face challenges including intergenerational trauma, lack of reliable access to clean water and sparse internet coverage.
Love of the game, family and traditions motivate these players, like any other Americans who love to fill their days with backyard basketball. In Navajoland, the backyards might just have a few more red rocks. 

See the final story as published in The New York Times.

Nachae Nez drives out to his family's home Jan. 29 near Tsaile on the Navajo Nation.

Team captain Nachae Nez drives out to his family's home Jan. 29, 2017 near Tsaile on the Navajo Nation.

The Wildcats listen to Coach Mendoza lay out strategy Jan. 28 before an away game in Holbrook, Ariz.
The Wildcats listen to Coach Mendoza lay out strategy Jan. 28 before an away game in Holbrook, Ariz.
The Draper sisters sing a mix of traditional and modern songs before the varsity boys game Jan. 31 in Chinle, Ariz.

The Draper sisters sing a mix of traditional and modern songs in Diné bizaad before the varsity boys game Jan. 31, 2017 in Chinle, Ariz. 

Cooper Burbank, with his siblings, Kendall, 4, Bryce, 7, and Shey *NEED TO SPELL CHECK SHEY'S NAME*, 10, is blessed by church elders at service Jan. 29 at Mexican Waters on the Navajo Nation.

Freshman Cooper Burbank, with his siblings, Kendall, 4, Bryce, 7, and Shey, 10, eat ice cream after church on Jan. 29.

Joni Burbank, Cooper's mom, follows along in a Bible written in Diné bizaad Jan. 29 at  in Rock Point on the Navajo Nation.

Joni Burbank, Cooper's mom, follows along in a Bible written in Diné bizaad Jan. 29, 2017 at in Rock Point on the Navajo Nation.

Junior Dewayne Tom rests before the Wildcats' home game at Chinle High School on Jan. 31 in Chinle, Ariz.

Junior Dewayne Tom rests before the Wildcats' home game at Chinle High School on Jan. 31, 2017

in Chinle, Ariz.
Senior and team captain Nachae Nez, center, helped his team prepare Jan. 28 before an away game in Holbrook, Ariz. Nez played for Holbrook his freshman year when Mendoza was the coach here.

Senior and team captain Nachae Nez, center, helped his team prepare Jan. 28, 2017 before an away game in Holbrook, Ariz. 

Senior Nachae Nez shoots past Page players during the Wildcats' home game at Chinle High School on Jan. 31 in Chinle, Ariz.

Senior Nachae Nez shoots past Page players during the Wildcats' home game at Chinle High School on Jan. 31, 2017

in Chinle, Ariz.
Coach Raul Mendoza after practice at Chinle High School on Jan. 30 in Chinle, Ariz. Mendoza wears ring from a 2011 state championship at Holbrook and has been honored many times in his 30+ years of coaching experience, including twice by the Arizona Coach

Coach Raul Mendoza after practice at Chinle High School on Jan. 30, 2017 in Chinle, Ariz. Mendoza wears ring from a 2011 state championship at Holbrook and has been honored many times in his 30+ years of coaching experience, including twice by the Arizona Coach.

Bryce, 7, Shey *NEED TO SPELL CHECK SHEY'S NAME*, 10, and Cooper play basketball together at their home Jan. 29 near Rock Point on the Navajo Nation.

Brothers Bryce, 7, Shey, 10, and Cooper Burbank play basketball together at their home Jan. 29, 2017 near Rock Point on the Navajo Nation.

Cooper Burbank is blessed by church elders at service Jan. 29 in Rock Point on the Navajo Nation.

Cooper Burbank is blessed by church elders at service Jan. 29, 2017

in Rock Point on the Navajo Nation.
Grandma Virginia shares a baby photo of Cooper and Shey *need to spellcheck shey's name* at their home Jan. 29 near Rock Point on the Navajo Nation.

Cooper's grandma Virginia shares a baby photo of Cooper and Shey at their home.

The Wildcats suffer a 59 - 46 loss Jan. 28 in Holbrook, Ariz.

The Wildcats suffer a 59 - 46 loss Jan. 28, 2017 in Holbrook, Ariz.

Angelo Lewis after landing hard on a sensitive knee Jan. 28 in Holbrook, Ariz.

Angelo Lewis grips his knee

after landing hard during the game Jan. 28, 2017 in Holbrook, Ariz.

Nachae Nez walks from his family's home over to the next home, one of his grandma's, Jan. 29 near Tsaile on the Navajo Nation.

Nachae Nez walks from his family's home over to the next home, one of his grandmas, Jan. 29, 2017 near Tsaile on the Navajo Nation.

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