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NABI foundation planning for summer summit

CHINLE

The past year has been rough for sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI) Foundation is making plans to host its 18th Invite and its 2nd Annual Educational Youth Summit from July 11 to 17 in Phoenix.

The NABI Foundation was among the many sports groups and clubs who had to cancel their sporting events due to the pandemic. This year though, NABI is hoping to host its annual program whose goal is to inspire Native children and create opportunities for them to pursue a higher education.

The NABI Foundation is a non-profit group aiming to help grow Native American youth into future leaders through basketball. It has been active since 2003 and is sponsored by tribal governments, private businesses and professional basketball teams such as the Phoenix Suns and the Phoenix Mercury.

Since its beginning the foundation has taught over 15,000 youths, awarded over $250,000 in scholarship funds and is the largest all-Native American Basketball Invitational in the country and the first all-Native American Basketball Tournament to be sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association in 2007. NABI has gained national acclaim in its 18 years of dedication to give Native youths a platform to stand on and allowing them to reach a higher education.

This year will be challenging as the foundation will have to follow safety regulations in order to keep its participants safe from the COVID-19 virus.

NABI President and CEO GinaMarie Scarpa admitted that the situation is fluid and nothing is certain where the virus is concerned, but they are still planning to host their upcoming invitational this summer as sign-ups already opened earlier this month.

“As for the 2021 NABI Educational Youth Summit, the health and welfare of our youth is our first priority,” Scarpa said in an email. “With that said, our plan is to scale the summit down this year with the hopes of bringing it back to its full scale in 2022.”

They were able to secure a venue at Phoenix College and have confirmed renowned local coach Raul Mendoza (featured in the documentary “Basketball or Nothing”) as a speaker for their coaches’ meeting.

“As for safety policies, we will follow all safety procedures recommended by our federal, state and local governments,” Scarpa said. “Most likely it will be mandatory masks and limited seating. If that is the case in July, the summit will not be mandatory for all NABI athletes to attend, it will be first come, first served based on social distancing seating requirements.

“This will also apply for fans who come to watch the games. If it is limited seating, staff and our teams’ families will take priority, and then fans will be allowed on a first-come, first-served basis.”

With the situation ever changing, Scarpa promises more information as the time draws nearer for the invitational to take place.


About The Author

David Smith

David Smith was born and raised in Chinle, Arizona. He graduated from Chinle High School in 2015 and went on to study journalism at Northern Arizona University. He graduated in the spring of 2020 with his bachelors in journalism and a minor in English. He later moved back home where he is now working as sports writer for the Navajo Times. Contact him at david.smith@navajotimes.com

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