Wednesday, November 25, 2015 • 11:03

San Pasqual Band of Indians intertribal sports more than just sports

From left to right Victor Navarro, Adrian Alvarez, Andrew Navarro, Miles Thompson, Jon Luna, Ty Thompson, Nieko Hernandez, Damien Alvarez, lower let to right Brandon Martinez, and Victoria Navarro. Miles and Ty Thompson who attend Albany University are Native Americans who were co-winners of the prestigious 2014 Tewaaraton Trophy for Lacrosse. The honor was bestowed at the Tewaaraton Ceremony at the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
June 11, 2014
The San Pasqual Band of Indians are active participants in the Inter-Tribal Sports Program which enables Native American youth an opportunity to participate in sporting competitions and much more.

In 1996, in a 70 by 80 foot building, the San Pasqual Education Center was founded through the efforts and wisdom of San Pasqual native and UCSD graduate Lorraine Orosco and Armando Martinez. One of the programs included in the Education Center's conception was tribal sports, which started with a very small group of reservation kids. It has since flourished to include over 220 reservation youth. Orosco, who is the Education Department Executive Director said the center is funded through various grants and through contributions from the San Pasqual Tribal Council.

"The sports program provides athletic opportunities for many of the reservation youth," she said.

Sports programs are provided in a healthy environment with the goals and opportunity to build self confidence, boost self esteem, sportsmanship, self respect, respect for others, a sense of belonging, and nurturing of friendships through peer bonding, thereby encouraging a sense of responsibility to one another to excel, not only in sports but in their education. The sports program is open to all tribes and non-tribal youth providing they reside on the reservation.

All the equipment and supplies are provided to the tribal youth. They need only show up, be willing to learn, and play. Intertribal Sports in Southern California began in 2002. The San Pasqual athletes participate in sports such as softball, archery, flag football, volleyball, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, and recently, with the acquisition of the Woods Valley Golf course by the San Pasqual Tribe's Economic Development Agency, golf will be offered.

Teams will compete against other Southern California tribes from Viejas, Barona, Soboba, Pechanga, Rincon, Pala, Pauma, La Jolla, Santa Isabella, and Sycuan. Many of the San Pasqual athletes are active participants in the Valley Center High School athletics program.

Many of the players of the recent CIF Division II Lacrosse Championship Team are also current members of the San Pasqual sports program and gained much of their experience through the tribal program. Victor Navarro, an education and sports mentor said that "many of our high school star athletes started here and have been encouraged to play in high school and thereby have a chance to play in college."

Victor's daughter Victoria, a past star Jaguar lacrosse player, currently attends Chico State and plays college level lacrosse. Lacrosse must be in the blood for the Navarro's as his son Andrew plays for the Valley Center varsity lacrosse team as well.

Sports are not the only focus for the San Pasqual Tribal Education Center.

"Their primary objective is to educate, encourage leadership skills, nurture cultural and spiritual values, as well as develop physical and mental attributes," Orosco said. "We provide tutoring, computer labs, moral support, early child development, pre-school programs, and see to it that their nutritional needs are met. We want them to support one another and encourage them to excel, not only in sports, but primarily in their education. We have seen real progress in our educational and sports program. We have between 20 and 30 of our students graduating from high school every year now and going on to college. This has been very rewarding – this is our purpose."

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