TRW partners with fellow Tribes to develop Youth Sports League

Velia Moncada

Gila River Indian News


On Feb. 5, the Gila River Indian Community’s Tribal Recreation and Wellness Center (TRW) Department met with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC), Ak-Chin Indian Community, and Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation at the River People Wellness Center-SRPMIC, to review coach’s training to ensure consistency with the leagues for the upcoming tribal sports leagues.


Sonja Luevano, District 1, TRW’s recreation manager, presented her passion for recreational/youth sports to the Tribal Recreation Coalition, which included fellow tribes. The tribes agreed to proceed with creating youth sports leagues in their communities.


“The training I did today was the training I brought from all my years of experience from the outside, and I wanted to give that training to everybody in our department so they can really see what it all entails and cater it to GRIC,” said Luevano.


Much of the meeting included training coaches in the Community, athlete-centered coaching, effective communication with athletes and parents, communicating coaching values and team goals, and more effective tools in helping the Community thrive in sports.


“We are bringing back a foundation of sports, different leagues, tournaments, coaching, and new traditions by working together,” said David Willis, athletic manager from the SRPMIC Recreation Department.


Phoenix Tribal Communities would connect through sports before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Willis. “It seems we’ve gotten away from that. So, we are trying to reconnect and bring things back.”


Ann Marie Antone, Parks and Recreation director of the Ak-Chin Indian Community, expressed she wants to reconnect families through sports, in which children and adults can all be involved and accepted in a competitive yet nurturing environment.


TRW is accepting applications for potential coaches as they prepare for the tribal youth soccer leagues in March; for questions about GRIC’s TRW youth sports league and how to become a possible youth coach, contact or (520) 562-6087.