Low impact, high fun

Leupp kids introduced to disc golf

LEUPP, Ariz.

Eddie Diaz does not make promises.

Rather than promises, he makes commitments.

The longtime Flagstaff resident made a commitment to bring disc golfing to Leupp Public School.

Diaz introduced the sport to 40 students last week during a four-day seminar at the school, which is part of the Flagstaff Unified School District.

“Promises are made to be broken,” Diaz said. “Commitment takes action and I made a commitment to get disc golf out here no matter what it took.

“Other than tag there is nothing for these kids to do,” he added. “This stuff is inexpensive and look at how much fun they are having.”

After breaking his ankle while skiing three years ago, Diaz was told by his doctors that he needed to pick up another activity to stay active. As a low impact sport, disc golf was ideal, but he felt that the people who were involved in the sport did it for the wrong reasons.

“They lined their pocketbooks and it made a tired old man pissed off,” Diaz said.

With some free time on his hand, he bypassed those individuals by having a tournament.

“I gave everything back to the players,” he said. “The kids were the ones that needed it the most.”

With that in mind, Diaz created his program, Discing4Kids, last year. His nonprofit organization runs after-school and summer programs for all schools within the FUSD.

Last week was the first time he’s reached out to Leupp Public School.

“It took me a year to get here but there is no reason why these children shouldn’t be receiving the same opportunities as the other kids in Flagstaff,” he said. “Our objective is to get to all the schools out here.”

Seven year-old Jaime Chance said disc golf was easy to learn.

“It’s like Frisbee,” she said, while adding that her putting game was much better than her mid and long range game.

Julian Paya was another student who had a lot of fun playing disc golf for the very first time.

“It took me a while to get used to,” said the soon-to-be seventh grader at Leupp Boarding School.

“I think other kids should try it,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Volunteer Kirsten “Kitty” Backstrom said she noticed that the kids are learning to help each other out, which is one of the lessons that Diaz is trying to incorporate with his program.

“Some kids that have been here a couple of days are teaching the new kids,” she said. “They are telling them, ‘This is how you throw.’”

She said a lot of kids have never heard of disc golf so the intent last week was to get a disc in their hand.

“We want them to get a feel of what it’s like,” she said. “We want them to know that disc golf is a really fun sport and you don’t have to be a great athlete to play.”

Leupp Public School after-school coordinator Shirl Jensen said her students got real involved.

“They really enjoyed it and it was something new for them,” she said. “This is something we want to continue for our students.”

With his foot in the door, Diaz is hoping to expand his educational curriculum to other schools on the reservations, but he knows there are a few barriers to overcome.

“I want to reach out to other schools but with the BIA there is a lot of red tape,” he said. “I’m also not Navajo so that Navajo preference (law) makes it even harder.”

Nonetheless, he wants to try to get as many kids involved as he can.

“If we can do a one-week seminar to these schools we can introduce all of the chapters to the program,” he said. “We can have an intramural league going.”

 


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Categories: Golf

About Author

Quentin Jodie

Quentin Jodie is the Sports Editor for the Navajo Times. He started working for the Navajo Times in February 2010 and was promoted to the Sports Editor position at the end of summer in 2012. Previously, he wrote for the Gallup Independent. Reach him at qjodie@navajotimes.com