The Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation initiative to recognize people making positive contributions to American Indian youth in underrepresented communities in New Mexico, called The First Annual Game Changer Awards, released its 2011 honorees:
- Mariah Simplicio, 13, Zuni Pueblo and Navajo, Cleveland Middle School
- Derrick Coriz, 14, San Felipe Pueblo, San Felipe Pueblo Elementary School
- Marchez Coriz, 16, Kewa Pueblo, New Mexico Military Institute
- Shanelle Tafoya, 16, Kewa Pueblo, Bernalillo High School
- Greg Brown, Basketball Coach, New Mexico Select
- Larry Lujan, President and CEO of Manuel Lujan Insurance Agency
“The Game Changer Award honorees represent an outstanding group of athletes and leaders – all of them setting an incredible example for their peers, athletes, community and other youth in New Mexico,” said NB3 Foundation Founder and professional athlete Notah Begay III in a foundation press release. “I am honored to personally recognize these outstanding individuals at the Game Changer Awards event. I’m especially encouraged by the leadership, academic discipline, and athletic achievements they collectively represent as game changers within their respective communities and in the state of New Mexico.”
Below is a breakdown of each individual honored by NB3 provided to us by the foundation. You will see why these individuals were singled out, and we here at Indian Country Today Media Network would like to congratulate them on making a difference in the lives of others. Keep up the great work!
Mariah Simplicio, who is Zuni and Navajo, will receive the Rising Star Athlete Award. A three-sport athlete (volleyball, basketball and track & field), Simplicio is an involved 8th grader at Cleveland Middle School in Albuquerque. She is a member of the yearbook staff, a three-time recipient of the Cleveland All-SportsAward, an Assembly Leader, an Albuquerque Public Schools Student-Athlete of the Year Nominee, a 6th and 7th Grade Student of the Year Nominee, and a Parent Involvement Leader. Simplicio balances these activities with a strong academic record, maintaining a cumulative 3.91 grade point average.
Derrick Coriz, a member of the San Felipe Pueblo, will also receive the Rising Star Athlete Award for his involvement in soccer, basketball and cross-country. An eighth grader and Honor Roll student, Coriz is a seven-year participant in the NB3 Soccer Program, where he has grown into a coaching position for head start children at San Felipe Pueblo.
Marchez Coriz, a member of the Kewa Pueblo, is a junior at the New Mexico Military Institute and member of the cross-country and basketball teams. Coriz, an Honor Roll student, has been awarded the President’s Education Award – an award program instituted by President Obama, the U.S. Secretary of Education and the New Mexico Military Institute Commander. He has also received commendation from the City of Roswell Mayor for his athletic achievements.
Shanelle Tafoya, a member of the Kewa Pueblo, is a junior at Bernalillo High School. A member of the women’s golf team, Tafoya maintains a 3.86 grade point average. “I take a very special interest in this exceptional young lady because I have not seen the desire or motivation in any other student in my 25 years of coaching and teaching,” said Roger Abeyta, Tafoya’s high school golf coach.
Former University of New Mexico Men’s Basketball player, Gregory Brown, will be honored in the coach category of the Game Changer Awards. Brown, who serves as Head Coach for a girls’ basketball team in the New Mexico Select basketball club, is a leader and mentor for young athletes. In addition to basketball skills, Brown focuses his coaching on leadership, respect, discipline, honesty, responsibility, teamwork and achievement.
Larry Lujan will receive an award for his philanthropic efforts. Mr. Lujan is President and CEO of Manuel Lujan Insurance Agency. “Larry was chosen as the Game Changer Philanthropist of the Year, due to his contributions and involvement in sports and philanthropy in the state of New Mexico,” stated Begay. “Larry has been a big proponent of supporting sports, giving back to New Mexico State University, the University of New Mexico and supporting junior and amateur golf in our community,” added Begay.
The NB3 Foundation will honor the four youth and two adults at the December 17th awards ceremony at Hotel Albuquerque, located at 800 Rio Grande Boulevard Northwest in Albuquerque.