The Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation is excited to introduce the 2023 NB3FIT Youth Golf Team, which includes 11 golfers ages 13 to 17 from across the state of New Mexico. The NB3FIT Golf Team was established in 2021 to provide skills training, tournament opportunities, and mentorship to aspiring Native youth golfers.

Youth are selected based on skill, commitment to the game, involvement in their community and their willingness to learn. Being selected to the team comes with a variety of learning opportunities and skills training meant to enhance their game. However, the focus is not only on golf. Youth are also challenged to think strategically about how they will give back to their community through volunteering and other community service efforts. 

“I wanted to be on the NB3FIT Golf Team because I love the game and this team provides many opportunities to grow and get better,” Maddison Long,16, said. “It also teaches important lessons like time management, giving back to the community, and places other responsibilities on us that can help us prepare for later in life.”

Long has been part of the NB3FIT junior golf family since she was a child and has been selected to the team for the past three years. You will often find Long on the course or at NB3 Foundation events volunteering and mentoring young golfers. 
 
Long, her little sister Olivia,13, and Alyssandra Rodriquez,15, make up the girls team this year. Rodriquez returns from last year’s team, and Olivia joins for the first time.  For the boys, the team welcomes newcomers: Deviond Gachupin, 13, JJ Botello, 14, and Jacob Francisco, 17. Francisco plays high school golf for Miyamura High School in Gallup, N.M. and Gachupin and Botello are both active in the golf scene as middle school students.  

The team returns a strong boy’s roster including Skyler Woods ,17, Zachary BlueEyes ,16, Noah Pozernick ,17, Luke James ,17, and Ardell John ,17. Woods and BlueEyes both placed first in their age divisions at last year’s NB3 Foundation Native Youth Golf Championship. Woods, BlueEyes and John also helped Kirtland Central High School finish second in the 2022 high school state championship.  

Pozernick, James and Francisco all play for Miyamura High School and are looking to get the Patriots a podium finish at the 2023 NM Golf State Championship, May 8-9 at Santa Ana Golf Club.  

Following the state championship, a busy summer season will begin. Each NB3FIT golfer will play at least 10 more tournaments, a combination of NB3 Junior Golf Tour and Sun Country Jr. Golf tournaments. Golfers will also go head-to-head against Native youth from across the country in the 2023 Native Youth Golf Championship in late July. 

“It’s only been three years and we have already seen incredible stories come from this team. Two past team members are playing collegiate golf, and another is attending The Golf Performance Academy in Connecticut,” Clint Begay, director of NB3FIT said. “I’m excited for this year’s team and look forward to seeing them accomplish new goals on and off the course.” 

The team will continue to meet up twice a month to practice, work on youth development skills and check in on community service projects. 

2023 NB3FIT Youth Golf Team  

Zachary BlueEyes, 16, Kirtland, NM, Diné, Kirtland Central High School  

Ardell John, 17, Kirtland, NM, Diné, Kirtland Central High School  

Skyler Woods, 17, Kirtland, NM, Diné, Kirtland Central High School  

Jacob Francisco, 17, Gallup, N.M., Diné, Miyamura High School  

Luke James, 17, Gallup, NM, Diné, Miyamura High School  

Noah Pozernick, 17, Gallup, NM, Diné, Miyamura High School  

JJ Botello, 14, Albuquerque, N.M., Hispanic 

Deviond Gachupin, 13, Albuquerque, N.M, Pueblo of Jemez 

Alyssa Rodriguez, 15, Albuquerque, NM, Hispanic, West Mesa High School 

Maddison Long, 15, Albuquerque, NM, Coeur d’Alene/Diné, Volcano Vista High School 

Olivia Long, 13, Albuquerque, NM, Coeur d’Alene/Diné 

  

  

Thirteen NB3FIT youth XC runners officially ended the cross-country season on December 10 at the USATF Junior Olympic Cross-Country Nationals meet in College Station, Texas. The NB3FIT runners went toe-to-toe with the best youth runners from across the country.

One girls’ and one boys eight and under team made the long trip to compete and experience what competing on a national level was like. For many on the team, it looked like a 12-hour drive with families in tow. And for the team, it was less about bringing home gold, and more about celebrating getting to nationals, trying their best and getting better.

NB3FIT coaches hosted families and runners the night before the race for a healthy pre-race dinner and team building activities to help calm nerves. The season is long, and over that time runners and parents become a community of support for one another. These small gatherings and dinners are great way to keep everyone connected and focused on a common goal.

The weather in Texas was nice and mild and the course was in top condition. NB3FIT runners took the starting line representing their families, tribes and running communities back home. Though none of the runners came home with top 10 finishes, most did come home with their own personal records! A fitting end to a record-breaking season.

Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association (APIA) Youth Program has a longstanding record of providing Unangax̂ youth with culturally relevant programs that promote healthy lifestyles. Located in Anchorage, Alaska, APIA is one of four organizations who make up the Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation’s Community Empowerment Cohort. The cohort is focused on initiating collective impact efforts that measurably impact Native youth health through physical activity, healthy nutrition, youth development and cultural connections. With a goal that includes increasing the psychological and physical well-being of youth through use of cultural traditions and healthy foods, APIA has initiated a collective movement that includes six community partners from across the Aleutian Islands.

Beginning with an environmental scan, APIA collected feedback from a variety of individuals in the region. The scan included an online survey giving community members a chance to respond to questions pertaining to youth programs, culture and the health and wellbeing of their youth. “We wanted more data from individuals in the region,” Olivia Bridges, youth services coordinator said. “We felt we didn’t have enough representation from all the communities like we wanted to.” 

Upon analyzing the results, APIA saw some glaring similarities emerging from all the communities. Bridges said the importance of traditional language, and youth and elder connections in programs were the highest ranked and most recurring in just about all the survey responses.  “We were happily surprised how many people said they wanted to see more youth programming with elder and youth connection, and programs in their traditional language,” Bridges said. “After seeing and hearing this it made us think, wow we really need to do programming with youth and elder connections with our funding.”

With knowledge learned from the environmental scan, APIA and their six community partners are now moving forward together strategizing and working towards making meaningful changes in community that will impact the health and futures of youth. Currently, one of APIA’s partners in Unalaska is utilizing funds to cover the travel costs for a culture bearer to fly to the Aleutian Islands to teach a headdress making workshop to youth and families. This investment shows the emphasis and value communities in the region place on cultural connections and its impact on youth health. “Communities know what they want to do; they know what they need; and what kind of programming youth and elders in their communities want to be doing.” Bridges said.

With the guidance of the NB3 Foundation and fellow cohort members, APIA will continue to work with the six community partners through spring 2023.
Through the Community Empowerment grant, APIA has broadened their reach forming new partnerships and working with 6 community partners to include: Aleut Marine Mammal Commission, Atka IRA of Atka, King Cove Strong Non-profit of King Cove, Qagan Tayagungin Tribe of Sand Point, Aleut Community of Saint Paul Island, and the Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska.

The inaugural NB3FIT track team is set to hit the track for the first time on Saturday, April 30 at Eldorado High School in Albuquerque, NM. Youth elementary to high school age will represent their communities and NB3FIT at the upcoming meet. For many of the youth, this will be their first track meet.

NB3FIT is long known in the cross country community, but this spring NB3FIT has ventured into a something a little different. A learning experience for coaches and youth, the hope behind starting the track team was for youth to have the opportunity to run in the spring; rather than having to wait until fall when cross country season is. The track team has been practicing four times a week  learning proper running techniques and the rules around track.

Earlier in April, NB3FIT track team joined Running Medicine at Albuquerque High School for a practice meet. Youth suited up in their uniforms, laced up their running cleats and got a chance to experience a race-like environment.

This weekend youth will have the opportunity to compete in two events of their choosing. Some will be competing in the long jump, 800 meter, 1500 meter and a variety relay races.

 

NB3 Foundation is excited to introduce the 2022 NB3FIT Youth Golf Team. The team is made up of 15 elite Native youth golfers ages 13 to 17 from across the state of New Mexico. Many Native youth face a number of barriers when pursuing high levels of competition in golf. The NB3FIT Golf Team was established in 2021 to help bridge the gap by providing skills training, equipment, tournament opportunities and youth development through mentorship and community service.

“Being selected for the NB3FIT Golf Team is an opportunity for young Native golfers to pursue their passion for excellence in golf, contribute to their communities and serve as positive role models to their peers,” Clint Begay, director of NB3FIT said.  

The golf team meets in-person twice a month to practice and work on youth development activities together. When not together, follow practice plans they have been provided by NB3FIT coaches. Each player is committed to attending at least 10 golf tournaments through August and will also develop a community service plan, completing at least five hours of community service each month.

Last year’s team graduated three seniors, all three moving on to attend college and one of the three received a gold scholarship and is currently playing golf at Division II college. NB3FIT Golf team members were also top finishers in the girls and boys 18 and under divisions at last year’s NB3 Foundation’s national Native Youth Golf Championship.

All the high school aged team members play golf for their schools and many will be competing in the NMAA State Golf Tournament next weekend May 7-8.

The state tournament marks the start of a busy summer for the team. Each golfer will play at least 10 more tournaments; a combination of NB3 Junior Golf Tour and Sun Country Classic tournaments. Each tournament providing the opportunity to advance their golf skills to compete at all levels.

 

2022 NB3FIT Youth Golf Team 

Angelo Martinez, 13, Albuquerque, NM, Hispanic, Bosque Prep

Zachary BlueEyes, 15, Kirtland, NM, Dine’, Kirtland Central High School 

Tristen Toledo, 16, Albuquerque, NM, Pueblo of Jemez, St. Pius X High School

Ardell John, 16, Kirtland, NM, Diné, Kirtland Central High School 

Skyler Woods, 16, Kirtland, NM, Diné, Kirtland Central High School 

Luke James, 16, Gallup, NM, Diné, Miyamura High School 

Noah Pozernick, 16, Gallup, NM, Diné, Miyamura High School 

Ryan Aragon Jr., 16, Albuquerque, NM, Pueblo of Laguna, Volcano Vista High School

Landen Lovato, 16, Albuquerque, NM, Diné, Cibola High School

Gabriel KnownsHisGun, 16, Albuquerque, NM, Diné, Cheyenne, Crow, Cibola High School

Adiance Cheromiah, 17, Laguna, NM, Pueblo of Laguna, Laguna-Acoma 

Dallas Dan, 14, Kirtland, NM, Diné, Kirtland Middle School

Elysse Woods, 14, Kirtland, NM, Diné, Kirtland Middle School

Alyssandra Rodriguez, 14, Albuquerque, NM, Mescalero Apache/Hispanic, West Mesa High School

Maddison Long, 15, Albuquerque, NM, Coeur d’Alene/Dine’, Volcano Vista High School

 

 

Since the start of the season, the NB3FIT cross-country team is gaining momentum with each practice and race. The team has caught some attention in communities and has welcomed 10 new runners since the start of the season bringing the current roster to 32. Runners represent nine different tribes and pueblos, with a few runners traveling 40-minutes to over an hour to participate in practice and meets.

Before COVID, practices were hosted in local pueblos, allowing easier access to the cross-country program. However, to maintain the safety of communities many are still are closed to the public. This year the cross-country team practices in Albuquerque, N.M. where parks are open to the public. The goal is to get back into the communities whenever it is safe to do so, Clint Begay, director of NB3FIT said.  Our upside to the one practice location is that the team is really close knit and runners of all ages know each others names, Begay said. Instead of only seeing teammates from other communities on race day, they now see and practice with each other four times a week.

NB3FIT XC has competed in two races since the first meet and will race again this Saturday, October 30 in the Cougar Track Club Cross Country Meet and again on November 6 for the USATF State Race. The youth are gaining strength and experience with each race, Begay said. Some youth knocking several minutes off their time just from the first to second race.

Keep an eye on the NB3 Foundation social media for updates on the team as they compete!

In just four months, while our team was adjusting to unprecedented changes from the pandemic, the NB3FIT team completed 23 trainings all focused on advancing their skills and knowledge of the in sports in our youth programming.Above you will see the list of trainings and you’ll see how beneficial they will all be to not only the coaches, but to the youth who participate in NB3FIT Programming.With hope of in-person programming returning sooner than later, our NB3FIT coaches will be ready and even more skilled than they were just a year ago.

 

Members of the NB3 Foundation attended an Ableism 1010 workshop series hosted by the University of Arizona’s Disability Cultural Center. The program was aimed at providing base knowledge about disability identity, culture and activism. During the series, staff learned about ableist terminology, micoraggressions, disability activism history and how to create accessible spaces and events, and about the roots of disability justice work.

Earlier this month, staff also attended the Inaugural American Indian Youth Disability Summit   hosted by the University of Arizona Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities. The virtual gathering focused on the youth experience in Native communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and what can be done to help youth adapt during these unprecedented times.

Attending these free workshops were a great learning experience and one example of how the NB3 Foundation is continually growing and learning to better promote inclusivity and accessibility in all our youth programs, events and work.

 

This year the NB3FIT XC program went virtual for the first time this fall. Due to the pandemic, Cross Country was postponed just like many other youth sports. However, we wanted the youth to be active during this time even if we couldn’t be there in person. Going virtual was not an easy decision, but we knew we wanted to provide a way for new and veteran runners to still participate in a XC program safely.

In preparation, curriculum was created and workout videos were recorded. These videos included a dynamic warm up, cool down stretches, and circuit training follow-along videos recorded by our own coaches and staff.

Forty youth registered from Santa Ana, Jemez, San Felipe, Santo Domingo,  Acoma Pueblos and Navajo Nation. For six weeks, parents received a workout plan for the runners to complete for the week. The runners were asked to practice three times a week, completing two runs, a circuit training and attend a check in with the coaches. These check in’s were a time for the coaches to interact with the athletes and do various fun activities such as running games, “Team Time”, meditation and other leadership activities. To assist in keeping track of the runners’ progress, each one received a FitBit. Coaches challenged the athletes to achieve 10,000 steps a day and because of this, the kids all together totaled over 9 million steps! Top 3 with the most steps were Julyssa Montoya, Sandia Pueblo with 468,984 steps; Quinton Begay, Jemez, San Felipe, Navajo, with 458,313 steps; and Lisa Leon, Santa Ana Pueblo, with 446,129 steps!

It is incredible what these runners achieved in six weeks and all the coaches are so proud of them.

It wouldn’t have worked how we imagined without the help and support from the parents. Thank you to them and their runners for being apart of this first Virtual XC experience. We hope next season will be in person!

Special congrats to NB3 Foundation team member Alva Gachupin (Pueblo of Jemez) for achieving an amazing milestone! Gachupin will be graduating from the University of Arizona, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health with her Master’s in Public Health on December 18.

We are so proud of Alva, not only has she played an integral role in  helping build and excel our Indigenous Evaluation and Research Department, but she has been accomplishing her educational goals at the same time!

Congrats Alva, you show us all that hard work and dedication pays off! We are so honored to have you on our NB3 Foundation team.

“I received my Master’s in Public Health from the University of Arizona, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. The journey I set forth to reach this milestone has had its share of trials and tribulations and it tested my ability to continue to move toward my goals and to persevere from the different challenges along this journey. It gave me the ability to see through a different lens, it gave me the opportunity to learn and grow as individual, as a mother, and as a Jemez woman. Obtaining your hardest goals and dreams can be scary but the more you put yourself through uncomfortable positions, you come out even stronger. I did something that scared me for years, and I am fortunate and humble that I did take this journey. If it wasn’t for my past, and current mentors along my journey, I wouldn’t be where I am. I plan to grow my career in public health and to be an advocate for our Native American communities because all too often, we are a statistic and that has to stop at some point. The knowledge gained is not only for me, it is also for my people, and our youth that will someday lead us.”