Silva honored to be at the helm

Uintah River girls basketball coach Art Silva has taken a winding journey in his career, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Silva first coached at the high school level in Ignacio, Colorado.

He was encouraged to be a part of the boys basketball program from his head coach Chris Valdez and assistant coach John Valdez. The two are his nephews.

Silva’s first season coaching basketball was in 2000.

“I started out doing the stats for the boys team,” Silva said. “I helped coach the freshman and junior varsity teams. It was a great learning experience.”

Silva moved to Fort Duchesne in 2011 with his wife. He started missing coaching and jumped back in at Uintah River in 2017.

“I was doing the stats when the season started,” Silva said. “I had three nieces and a daughter who was a freshman on the team. Uintah River won state.”

Dave Sorenson took over both the boys and girls teams at Uintah River and asked Silva if he wanted to help.

Silva didn’t hesitate at all and was part of Sorenson’s coaching staff.

“Dave is a very good coach and understands the game well,” Silva said. “I learned a lot from him. We went on to win our second straight championship under him.”

Sorenson asked Silva to run the Uintah River girls team and keep the tradition going.

“It took a bit getting the girls used to my style of play,” said Silva.

The Lady Warriors managed to win a thrilling game over DaVinci Academy to keep the title streak alive.

“It wasn’t easy but we were able to win three state titles,” Silva said.

Silva is now a veteran coach for Uintah River. He just finished a season where the Lady Warriors were right in the thick of things for a Utah School Sports Association title.

Uintah River advanced to the title game but fell 59-28 to Terra Academy at Wasatch Academy March 1.

“We were hoping for first, but we will take second,” Silva said. “We just wanted to be in that championship game at the beginning of the season. They worked hard all season. We were very proud of the girls. A lot of the girls made sure everybody was doing well in school. That was the No. 1 priority.”

Silva knew the Lady Warriors had a talented team in December. He added Tamikyah Gravatt spearhead the roster.

“Tamikyah handled the ball really good and attacked the basket when she wanted to,” Silva said.

Gravatt’s teammate, Talia Murray, was another scoring threat for Silva’s squad.

“Talia was just a monster on the boards,” he said. “She didn’t shoot a lot for us, but she controlled the ball really well for us.”

Annissa Warren was Uintah River’s 3-point shooter and the point guard.

“She is very athletic and a tough player,” Silva said.

Janala Givens was another upperclassman on the squad.

“She rebounded the ball well for us,” Silva said.

His assistant coach this season was Charles Denny.

“Charles helped out tremendously,” Silva said. “He pushed the girls with the conditioning. He did a great job with them. We appreciate all his hard work.

Silva feels the USSA is heading in the right direction after expanding to eight teams.

The USSA is composed of a mix of charter, alternative, residential treatment and independent schools.

“We are in a good league,” said Silva. “It can be better. Some of the schools in the league don’t get a whole lot of help. I’m glad they are putting a team out there so they can play.”

Silva said being the head coach at Uintah River is an honor for him and his family.

“Working for the community and my wife being a member of the tribe is what gave me the push to work for Uintah River,” said Silva. “I enjoy working with these kids even at times when they don’t like working with me. It’s just something I like to do.”

The coach has already started to prepare for next season.

“We are going to keep pushing it hard,” Silva said. “We have spring training basketball in a couple of weeks. We will get them in summer programs and have extra individual training.”