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Humble Elliott named to Native athletic hall of fame

Cowichan basketballer Lori Elliott has been inducted into the National Indian Athletic Association’s Hall of Fame. - Krista Siefken
Cowichan basketballer Lori Elliott has been inducted into the National Indian Athletic Association’s Hall of Fame.
— image credit: Krista Siefken

A lifetime of skill in sports and smarts in life was rewarded when Lori Elliott was inducted into the National Indian Athletic Association’s Hall

of Fame.

Elliott, a Cowichan woman with a lengthy record of basketball excellence, was honoured April 22 in Tulalip, Wash.

“I was surprised,” Elliott admitted. “But it was really neat to see all of the other inductees, because they were people I had watched and thought were awesome — and I wouldn’t have put myself in the same category, so it was really neat to be honoured that way.”

Elliott may be tremendously talented, but she’s also notoriously modest.

Luckily, cousin Garrett Elliott provided the NIAA with some background, going back to the start of a basketball career that began at the age of seven at Maple Bay elementary.

“It was here that she began to perfect that silky shot of hers, which would eventually lead to countless all-star and most valuable player awards,” Elliott said.

“Never one to put her individual accomplishments ahead of her teams’ successes, Lori’s passion was evident from her uncanny ability to always find the open player for an easy two points. Often double-teamed and singled out by the opposition as the player to stop, Lori would dissect the defense with her quick feet and precision passes, forcing teams to resort to just trying to foul her.”

Known for incredible three-point shots and pressuring the ball for quick turnovers to run fast breaks, Elliott helped her teams earn victories at the 1977 All Native Women’s Championship, 1981 B.C. High School Championship, 1985 Western Canadian Women’s Championship, and 1996 North American Indigenous Games Women’s Championship.

She’s travelled across Canada and the United States during her 35-year basketball career, in addition to competing in sports such as softball and traditional canoeing. Just last year, she finished the Honolulu Marathon.

But it’s not just Elliott’s athletic accomplishments that earned her Hall of Fame spot.

“Culture and family have always been very important to Lori, and in the Native basketball community she was quickly recognized for her leadership on the floor, and her humility off the floor,” Garrett Elliott said. “Lori continues to live and practice a healthy and positive lifestyle that follows the footsteps of our ancestors.”

That includes her 25 years of work Cowichan Tribes’ Health Centre

“Being an athlete wasn’t just something I did,” Elliott said. “It was a lifestyle for me, so along with it came healthy choices. I think it’s a way of life.”

Elliott also credits huge family and community support — in fact, 27 people from Cowichan travelled to Tulalip to see her receive her Hall of Fame honour.

“I was blessed to always have people around me who supported me,” she said, admitting she was humbled by her cousin’s words about her athletic career.

“I was amazed at the perception,” Elliott said. “Being seen that way in someone else’s eyes is was pretty amazing.”

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