Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Wingate looking to stay healthy for 2024 season

Wingate looking to stay healthy for 2024 season

WINDOW ROCK – Wingate football coach AD Jim understands that injuries are unavoidable in his sport.

But a rash of injuries last year altered his team’s trajectory as the Bears dropped seven of its last eight games.

“We started out good with a 2-0 record, and we racked up 92 points in those first two games,” Jim said. “But unfortunately, we had quite a few injuries. At one point of the season we had like 17 kids out, so we struggled.”

And while Jim expects to see some injuries this season, he is hoping to mitigate those numbers as the Bears are scheduled to open with Newcomb on Aug. 23.

“I think we’re coming along,” Jim said. “We’re actually looking pretty good with what we have. I’ve definitely seen a lot of individual and team development since spring. We have a core group of players that have been in the weight room since February.”

For their summer workouts, the Wingate coach has been getting roughly 35 kids at practice on a consistent basis.

“Twenty of those kids are returners and 15 are new,” Jim said. “The new kids have bought into what we’re trying to teach them. They’ve come a long way into buying into that.”

Jim says they understand the core values of the program, which is to make them better people in today’s society.

“We want to establish a pathway once they graduate by teaching them discipline,” he said. “That discipline helps them athletically, too. They are being tasked with responsibilities and we’re holding them accountable. From what I’ve seen they’re developing well into successful young men.”

The Bears will be leaning on players like Arwin Thompson, Tyreke Begay and Cassius Holiday for the 2024 season

“Arwin is going to be starting this year at quarterback,” Jim said. “He was actually the backup last year and he’s a sophomore this year. Cassius is one of my returning linemen and he’s stepping up, taking up a leadership role. He’s been very helpful in that area.”

On Saturday Wingate hosted its own 7-on-7 tournament playing the likes of Crownpoint, Hózhó Academy, Newcomb, Window Rock and Zuni.

“We went 6-0 in the tournament and our linemen did really well in the challenge,” Jim said.

Two weeks earlier Wingate finished third during the Window Rock 7-on-7s, finishing behind event winner Holbrook and Monument Valley.

“We had like six, seven players missing that day,” Jim said. “The night before the Gallup area got hit with a lot of rain. I have a lot of athletes that live on the reservation and due to road conditions, they weren’t able to make the tournament, but we were still able to finish third that day.”

The Bears will finish out offseason workouts with a team camp in Roswell next week.

“After that we’ll give the boys some time off before we actually start practice,” Jim said.

Per the New Mexico Activities Association, the first day of practice is scheduled on Aug. 5 with players practicing in helmets. After a few days of practice, all teams will be allowed to practice with pads.

With the summer workouts nearing their end, Jim is optimistic about the upcoming season as the Bears were placed in a revamped District 1-3A with Crownpoint, Gallup, Shiprock, Thoreau, Tohatchi and Zuni.

Last season the NMAA established two districts for the 3A schools in northwest New Mexico with Cuba, Crownpoint, Thoreau and Wingate playing in District 5-3A while Navajo Prep, Newcomb, Tohatchi and Zuni competed in District 1-3A.

Of those schools, Cuba, Navajo Prep and Newcomb were placed in 2A this year.

The two remaining teams – Gallup and Shiprock – played at the 4A level last year.

“I’m not too sure how we’ll finish in district, but we’re excited,” Jim said. “With all the changes that were made with the realignment it’s hard to make any predictions.”

Part of the changes the NMAA made this year includes having only three districts instead of five as 19 schools will participate at the 3A level.

“They basically cut down the number of districts statewide and made them bigger,” Jim said. “I’m hoping that it’ll heighten the chance of getting more teams from our district getting into the state tournament because a couple of years ago we finished second in our district, and we didn’t make it.

“We were right there, but we were the first team they crossed out,” he added. “With the change I would like to see more teams in our district go to state.”


About The 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

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