By Dan Ninham
Rizal Agaton Howes is an enrolled Muscogee and a descendant of the Fond du Lac Ojibwe. His Ojibwe name is giniwens, meaning little golden eagle. He is a junior at Cloquet Senior High School in Cloquet, Minnesota and is a varsity soccer athlete for the Lumberjacks.
During Agaton Howes varsity tenure, the team have been Lake Superior Conference champions twice, were two-time Section 7AA champions, and placed third in the state tournament. Agaton Howes scored two goals in his varsity debut and had 10 goals this past season.
“My indigenous values have served as my moral compass and guided me through much of my soccer career,” Agaton Howes said. “The first one that comes to mind is dabasenindizowin, or humility. Soccer is a vast and powerful sport that a lot of people put their lives into, so having humility in the face of passion is really important. I’ve had to compete with many people even just to play, and maintaining humility is something I really value in order to stay centered.”
“(Other values that) really dictated my athletic experience is endurance and patience. Having the ability to stick out the harder times has been really crucial for me,” he added.
Howes said, “In both my 2022 and 2023 varsity seasons, we started with a 1-2 record. This year our third game was a 0-4 loss. Despite that, both times we managed to pull our seasons together and make it to state both times.”
“Towards the middle of my 2023 varsity season I had a goal drought too, so to have the patience and focus to push on was key. Indigenous people had to endure and survive centuries of colonization, and for us to still have our own unique culture is truly something to be proud of. This is a virtue that has been at the heart of our survival as a culture, and I try my hardest to carry it on,” he added.
Agaton Howes’ high school head coach and club coach is John Sundquist. He considers him to be his mentor on and off the soccer field. Howes is striving to show varsity team leadership skills and his progress as a varsity level athlete is continuing to show progress. “Rizal is one of those silent leaders who lets his play speak for him,” said John Sundquist, Cloquet-Esko-Carlton varsity head coach.
“There isn’t a player on the team that had shown more progress and toughness than Rizal,” added Coach Sundquist.
Coaches remember when their athletes perform at their highest level either in practice or games. Coach Sundquist said, “There was a game against Hibbing that Rizal had an assist on the first goal to break the game open and then scored the first goal of the second half to seal the victory when I thought he could be a game changer. I’m excited for his senior year!”
Agaton Howes is making goals for his senior year but also has plans post high school. “After high school, I’m planning on playing soccer in college,” he said. “I’ve been looking into colleges across the last year, and I’ve built relationships with some coaches. I’d like to study something related to the human mind such as psychology or sociology, but I haven’t decided on that either. I’m only in my junior year, so I have some time to make decisions.”
Athletes also remember their favorite moments that stick out in their minds and pushes them forward. Agaton Howes share his favorite: “It’s a pretty obvious pick for me, which was my 2023 varsity season. Being ranked as high as second in state, scoring even more goals and conceding less as a team than last year where we won third in state is a huge accomplishment for any team. We made history for our school and team.”
“It ended in heartbreak though, as we were knocked out in the first round of state in a penalty shootout. Despite that, I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of that team. Our team chemistry and cohesion was something to behold, and we put our heart and souls into that season,” he added.