Sports & Recreation

"Sonny" No. 90 and "K-den" No. 66 have always been paired together, they have been playing for the Superstition Pop Warner Bandits for two years.

SRPMIC Youth Work Hard to Accomplish Big Dreams

By Sheila Begay
Au-Authm Action News

Think back quite a few years and ask yourself, “What were my goals at age seven?” Chances are, many of us wanted to be a police officer, a nurse or something along those lines. At that young age, those dreams didn’t have any physical, social or mental requirements. But four Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community youth are already working to make it happen. In football, Juan Smith, Jr. and Aleczander “K-Den” Wood, and in cheerleading, Victoria Smith and Kassandra Montano-Smith, are putting in the time and dedication to accomplish some big dreams.

Participating in sports has many positive effects that help mold children into well-rounded individuals. Along with parents and teachers, coaches also play a huge role in helping children learn acceptable behavior. While these youth may be learning about a sport, such as football or cheerleading, they are also gaining valuable benefits and life lessons along the way.

Lisa Miguel, mother of Aleczander Wood, and Benjalina Smith, mother of the Smith children, are seeing a huge difference in their kids.

“They are more disciplined, have more self-confidence, work hard at school and are healthier,” said Miguel. “There’s a lot of diabetes going on here on the [Community], and we don’t want that for our kids. We want them to be healthy,” said Smith.

The Pop Warner program seeks to provide fun athletic learning opportunities for children while emphasizing the importance of academic success. Specifically, Pop Warner seeks to familiarize players and spirit participants with the fundamentals of football, cheerleading and dance. According to the Web site, the mission statement is: “Pop Warner strives to inspire youth, regardless of race, creed or national origin, to practice the ideals of sportsmanship, scholarship and physical fitness, as reflected in the life of the late Glenn Scobie ‘Pop’ Warner.”

All of these goal-driven youngsters must meet all of Pop Warner’s requirements in order to play football or participate in cheer. Time and dedication are necessary in order to excel in any sport. Early-morning practices, late-night dinners, fundraising and long drives go along with this, but any parent would agree it is for the betterment of their children.

“I’m not going to lie, it does get expensive. We asked for support around the Community and got donations and the support we were looking for. Salt River Recreation also paid for our registration fees, which helped a lot. It gets tough, but I do it for [my kids],” said Smith.

“The coach told K-Den he was overweight and could not play unless he lost a couple pounds. K-Den was really upset, so he put in the time and effort,” added Miguel. “He ate right, exercised and lost 4 pounds in two days to meet weight requirements. His coach helped him, and [K-Den] was willing to put in the hard work in order to play. K-Den and Juan motivate each other to keep going and work hard.”

For more information about what services are provided for youth of SRPMIC, call (480) 362-6360. If you’re interested in the Pop Warner program for youth, visit www.popwarner.com.

Football

Juan Smith, Jr.
Nickname:
“Sonny”
Age: 7
Weight: 86 lbs.
School: Kerr Elementary School
Team name: Superstition Pop Warner Bandits
Division: Mitey-Mite
Experience: 2 years
Position: Defensive tackle, #90
Accomplishments: Youngest player on the team; Little Scholars; recovered football in first game with Bandits.
Goals: To play for Arizona State University and the Arizona Cardinals, and to become a police officer.
Hobbies: Playing Madden video games, wrestling and hanging out with K-den.

Aleczander K. Wood
Nickname:
“K-Den”
Age: 7
Height: 56 inches
Weight: 90 lbs.
School Attending: Kerr Elementary School
Team name: Superstition Pop Warner Bandits
Division: Mitey-Mite
Experience: 2 years
Position: Right offensive tackle and defensive tackle, #66
Accomplishments: Second youngest player on the team; Little Scholars.
Comment from Coach Laronzo Brooks: “Aleczander has made great strides in improvement as an overall player. His hard nose and effort has made him a true asset to our Bandits football team.”
Goals: To play for Arizona State University and the Green Bay Packers.
Hobbies: Playing Madden video games, playing with his brother, wrestling and hanging out with Juan.

Cheerleading

Victoria Smith
Nickname:
“Tori”
Age: 9
Team name: Superstition Pop Warner Bandits
Team colors: Blue and gold
Division: Mitey-Mite
Experience: 2 years
School Attending: Kerr Elementary School
Accomplishments: Little Scholars; placed first in state division.
Goals: Getting better at dancing, stunting, tumbling and lifting. Cheering for Arizona State University and the Arizona Cardinals, and becoming a medical doctor.
Hobbies: Dance, playing games, playing outside and playing with her sisters.

Kassandra Montano-Smith
Nickname:
“Kassie”
Age: 11
Team name: Superstition Pop Warner Braves
Team colors: Blue and gold
Division: Junior Pee Wee II, Exhibition
Experience: 2 years
School Attending: Kerr Elementary School
Accomplishments: Supported the Pop Warner Bandits in an undefeated season (last year); received first place in state and placed fourth at regional cheer competitions.
Goals: To place at state, regionals and make her way to the cheerleading nationals in Florida. To cheer for Westwood High School, Arizona State University and the Arizona Cardinals, and to become a singer.
Hobbies: Dance, playing games and cheerleading.



Sports
SRPMIC Students Anchor Stapley Junior High Wrestling Team
SRPMIC Youth Work Hard to Accomplish Big Dreams