NORMAN – Nearly 200 Native American middle school students from around the state of Oklahoma made their way to the University of Oklahoma on Wednesday for the fourth annual Sooners for N7 event.
The event, organized by Oklahoma’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), was held inside the Everest Training Center and featured multiple stations led by OU student-athletes. Students rotated through locations including soccer, football, stickball, yoga, nutrition and Pow Wow dancing, which all focused on various health and wellness methods.
“We have seen this event grow just by some of the kids that have been here. There was a kid here today who has been here for three years now,” Dr. Carol Ludvigson, OU’s Associate AD for Student-Athlete Development said. “It has been really nice to be able to build relationships with some of these kids and also really impress upon them higher education because we take it for granted that everyone goes to college.”
The Nike N7 Initiative is committed to bringing sport and all of its benefits to Native American and Aboriginal communities in the United States and Canada with the goal of helping youth recognize and build on their history. It derives its name and ideals from the Native American wisdom of the Seven Generations. According to the organization's website, “In every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the seventh generation."
OU women’s golfer Sydney Youngblood, a member of the Choctaw Nation, spoke to the participants about the importance of heritage, education and being active and healthy through sports.
“This is a very unique opportunity,” Youngblood said “I’m Native American, but when I was younger we didn’t have a lot of opportunities like this, so it was really neat. I was honored to be able to speak on behalf of all Native American students here at OU and to a bunch of Native American kids who really want to learn more about their culture and really embrace that part of their heritage.”
The idea for Sooners for N7 first came to light in 2014 when former Oklahoma tennis player Whitney Wofford presented it after learning about N7 as an intern at Nike. At OU, the purpose of the event is to give back to the large Native American population in the state.