GRIC football players enjoying their time at Providence High School
Gila River Indian News
In the previous issue, the GRIN profiled the Providence High School (PHS) Volleyball team and the GRIC members who make up the majority of that squad, but we’re not quite done highlighting PHS as we go from the volleyball court to the football field.
Of the twelve PHS football players on their varsity team, four are O’otham from the Community. They are Peyton Allison (District 5), Dominic White (District 5), Christopher Castle (District 3), and Enrique Martinez (District 5). These young men are first-time football players but are still making the most of their time on the gridiron.
Attending Providence has been helpful for the boys, due to the smaller class sizes. And they attribute the sports programs to their academic success. Students must maintain good academic standing to play. Playing has also served as a healthy outlet for the boys to stay out of trouble.
Besides football, the boys enjoy sharing Native humor, funny Native accents, and O’otham slang with their non-Native teammates.
Student Support Services Coordinator and Assistant Head Coach Robert Martin enjoy working with the O’otham students stating, “I have never met any kid from Gila River that isn’t hilarious.”
He’s had the opportunity to see how hardworking the students can be. Community students will often help load and unload equipment without being asked.
Martin also participated in a smudging one of the parents did for the team and appreciated learning about the Community and cultural practices. Martin gets to learn a lot from the students driving them back as far as Sacaton after school, practices, and games.
The team has challenges. The campus doesn’t have a football field at the school, and many of the players play both sides of the ball to make up for the lack of depth on the roster.
Despite having a losing record, both head coach Simpson and assistance coach Martin are excited and look forward to next year’s team. Head coach Simpson said, “you have to learn how to win, and you have to learn how to lose.” Providence High School will build off the lessons of this past year’s season, add new players next year, and secure an outstanding record by the end of Fall 2020.
Coach Simpson’s hopes are for the young men to continue their athletic and academic pursuits. Maricopa Community Colleges ended their football programs in 2018. But Simpson is looking to funnel their interest in the newly established Hohokam Junior College Athletic Conference. Coach Simpson feels this may encourage the boys to allow their football talents to excel after high school while achieving a college education.