Navajo Nation President-Elect Buu Nygren attends EAC men’s basketball game in Chinle

Lori Dugan Photo/EAC: Navajo Nation President-Elect Buu Nygren and EAC President Todd Haynie at Chinle High School’s Wildcat Den during the Eastern Arizona College men’s basketball halftime show. 

Gila Monsters visit local schools, learn about Navajo history and culture, and prevail against the College of Southern Nevada

By Lori Dugan and Kris McBride/EAC

CHINLE – Dr. Buu Nygren, the newly elected president of the Navajo Nation, made his first official appearance since the recent election at the Eastern Arizona College men’s basketball game held in Chinle against the College of Southern Nevada.

“We are honored that President-Elect Nygren chose EAC’s basketball game as his first official appearance,” said Todd Haynie, president of Eastern Arizona College. “Our team received such a warm and enthusiastic welcome during their visit and we look forward to working with President-Elect Nygren and area schools for many years to come.”

Nygren welcomed the crowd and delivered an inspirational message that underscored his campaign promise of working hard to deliver much-needed infrastructure. He also discussed how his win means the Navajo Nation will have a woman vice president for the first time.

The night of basketball opened with Chinle High School boys and girls playing intra-team games. The Gila Monsters then hit the floor to take on the College of Southern Nevada, which turned into a nail-biter that EAC ultimately won, 81-80.

“It was an amazing opportunity to play in front of this crowd in such a high-quality arena,” said Cameron Turner, EAC head men’s basketball coach. “With 10 seconds to go, the habits we created in practice pulled us through to the end. Deray Seamster was a great guy to have at the free-throw line. I didn’t think he would bank in the free throw, but a point is a point and a win is a win.”

The game was announced by local sports celebrity, L.A. Williams, who is the voice of the Phoenix Suns in the Navajo Nation.

During their visit to Chinle, the EAC men’s basketball team toured elementary schools in Many Farms and Tsaile to talk about bullying and the importance of staying in school. The young students cheered and held welcome signs for the teams as they entered the courts. At one assembly, the students rushed the court to meet the team. Later in the day, an assembly was held with Chinle’s junior high and high school students about the importance of getting an education. EAC’s cheer team also met with students trying out to cheer for winter sports.

Lori Dugan Photo/EAC: Deray Seamster makes the winning point for the Eastern Arizona College men’s basketball team during their 81-80 win against the College of Southern Nevada. 

The Gila Monster basketball team – comprised of athletes from several states and countries, including Australia and the Netherlands – also learned about Navajo history and culture while touring Canyon de Chelly National Monument.

“This was an experience our athletes will never forget,” said Haynie. “They were privileged to learn first-hand about the Navajo’s sacred beliefs and the extraordinary importance of the canyons. The young students at the local schools truly touched our athletes’ hearts and will help them become better role models for the rest of their lives.”

EAC’s men’s basketball team again takes on the College of Southern Nevada in the Coyote Classic next weekend. For more information, visit

About Eastern Arizona College

Sophia Saldana Photo/EAC: The Eastern Arizona College men’s basketball team poses with staff and students from Many Farms Public School. 

Eastern Arizona College – the first community college in Arizona – has helped students achieve their dreams since 1888. With campuses in Thatcher, Globe, and Payson, EAC’s qualified and caring instructors prepare students for the most in-demand careers and advanced study at universities. EAC offers more than 80 certificates and degrees, including the #1 nursing school in Arizona, a fine arts program featuring the only marching band in Arizona, and an engineering program that brings students up to speed for success at universities and top-tiered firms. Students thrive at EAC, making friendships that last a lifetime. EAC’s vibrant student experience includes on-campus housing, more than 30 clubs and organizations, active intramurals, and nationally ranked athletic and e-sports teams. At EAC, most students leave with $0 debt. Let EAC provide an affordable way for you to claim your dreams. Contact or call (928) 428-8272 today.