FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona soccer team and the Notah Begay III Foundation (NB3) joined together to host nearly a 100 Native American children on Sunday prior to the Lumberjacks' spring game against Fort Lewis for a free soccer clinic at Lumberjack Stadium.
"It's a huge day for our foundation," said Stephanie Gabbert, NB3 Foundation's Director of Soccer. "We have been planning these types of events and we've done clinics in various places of the country, but this is the first time we've done it with a university team. I know (NAU head coach) Andre Luciano and I talked about this a year ago. It's a great opportunity for us to partner with a program like the Northern Arizona University soccer team to help the Native American kids that live in this area."
The Lumberjack players and coaching staff as well as alums Jenna Samora and Natasha Slaughter led the large contingent of children through various drills and culminated in game-styled activity. The participants were broken up into eight groups throughout the two-hour clinic.
The NB3 Foundation was founded by professional golfer Notah Begay III in 2005. Begay III started the foundation to help Native American youth to tackle the issues of Type II Diabetes and childhood obesity, where statistics show that they are 30-40 percent more likely to face these issues than the general population according to Gabbert. The NB3 Foundation utilizes sports and other exercise programs to keep the children active. Within these programs, they also teach nutrition education which was to follow the clinic and be conducted by the NAU Native American Cultural Center.
Sunday's clinic was not only a rewarding experience for the participants, but also for the Lumberjack players.
"I really loved coming out here and seeing how happy they were," said redshirt freshman Malia Tano. "I think we really put an impact on their lives and I hope they took something away from this experience."
It was also another opportunity for the team to reach out and give back to the community, something that the Lumberjacks feel is important.
"It's always good for us to give back to the community because it shows the younger generation that it is possible for them to play sports at a bigger level and that it's happening right here in their community," said sophomore Diane Buzzard, a Flagstaff native. "I don't think they realized how much fun you can have being active, so it was good for us to be role models for them and show them how to live an active and healthy lifestyle."
For anyone interested in discussing NB3 programs or have any questions, please contact Gabbert at (505) 867-0775 or Stephanie@nb3f.org. More information about the NB3 Foundation can be found on their website at nb3foundation.org.