DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Gators' Robertson goes extra mile(s) in Navajo Nation

Among America’s hardest-hit areas to be affected by the COVID-19 virus is the Navajo Nation in northeast Arizona, northwest New Mexico and southeast Utah. Many of the residents have struggled and needed to find a ray of sunshine.

That ray of sunshine smiles as she walks among us, and her name is Kaori Robertson.

She is an incoming senior at Xavier Prep and spent the early part of her life living with her grandmothers on the Navajo Nation in Window Rock, Ariz. She later moved with her parents to the Phoenix area, applied for enrollment at Xavier and was accepted.

She developed a love for volleyball and played for XCP’s varsity team the last two seasons, helping the Gators win the 6A Conference state championship as a sophomore in 2018.

Robertson never forgot where she came from. Her roots run deep, and that is what motivated her to give back to the Navajo Nation with a public-service project that she recently completed.

For most of June and early July, with the help of a Go Fund Me account, the establishment of a Facebook page and assistance from her parents, Jonathan and Jolene, Robertson raised $3,000. It went toward the purchase of handless water stations and touchless soap dispensers that she delivered to eight Bashas’ grocery store locations and a handful of trading posts in the area.

Xavier's Kaori Robertson holds one of the handless water stations that she donated to people of the Navajo Nation. (Photos courtesy of Robertson family).

Robertson explains the emphasis on hand-washing to a local resident.
Seven of the Bashas’ stores are in Arizona and one is in New Mexico (Crownpoint). The Arizona locations are in Window Rock, Wilkon, Chinle, Tuba City, Pinon, Kayenta and Sanders.

The trading posts were at Rocky Ridge and Lukachukai.

Robertson knows the importance of washing hands in fighting the virus, and when she made her deliveries, she would emphasize this to the residents.

“Of course I am sad about what happened (with the virus), especially up on the Navajo Nation,’’ Robertson said. “I wanted to do something for them, help them stand on their own.’’

By the time her three-day trip had been completed, she and her parents had traveled 1,450 miles. It was an amazing journey, to be sure. She also was able to see one of her grandmothers along the way.

“We hope that this will help reduce a lot of the contaminants,’’ Robertson said.

“I worked really hard at this, and I am thankful for the support I received from my mom and dad. It is different living out there and the people need to learn all they can.’’

Kaori Robertson (Xavier photo).
Xavier Athletic Director and Vice Principal for Activities Sr. Lynn Winsor is proud of Robertson’s accomplishments.

“She is a wonderful young woman,’’ Winsor said.

Robertson is thankful for the opportunities she has received at Xavier, both in academics and athletics.

She was selected to the Navajo Times’ All-Star Fall Sports Team last fall, the first such selection of a Xavier athlete. The defensive specialist/libero is looking forward to helping Xavier make a run at the state title this season, and would like to continue to play in college.

She already has talked to some schools and is hopeful of earning a Chief Manuelito Scholarship that awards financial assistance to Navajo students. She is required to study Navajo history and Navajo language in order to qualify.

“I heard my grandmothers speaking it (Navajo) and I want to be able to talk with them,’’ she said.

And playing volleyball at Xavier under the guidance of coach Lamar-Renee Bryant and her assistants has helped Robertson gain confidence “and just learn a lot about real life,’’ she said.

Once she gets to college, her plan is to study to become a pharmacist. That way, she will be able to help those back home in the Navajo Nation and wherever else she decides to go.

The recent project gave her a good head start.

Awesome, Kaori!

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