By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Whitney Wofford has faced some tough competition as a part of the Oklahoma tennis team.
However, on Wednesday, Wofford may have taken on her biggest and most rewarding competition yet at the Sooners For N7 event at the Oklahoma football practice field.
With more than 200 Native American youths on hand, she wanted to teach them that they can have a bright future and lead a healthy life in the process.
“We wanted to show them what’s possible and what they can do if they are healthy and fit, proactive with their lives,” Wofford said. “That’s why I wanted (it) here at campus — show off OU a little bit. But for the most part, tell them that all we did was work hard and we believe that’s what you can do, as well. You can receive success and do great in your life, as well.”
In cooperation with the Nike N7 initiative, the purpose of Sooners For N7 is to give back to the large Native American population in Oklahoma. The campers included 10- to 12-year-old children from Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes.
According to Wofford, N7 represents the idea that what people do today affects the next seven generations.
“I had an internship at Nike and I was approached by the founder of N7 while I was in Oregon,” Wofford said. “And he really just educated me on N7 and told me how Oklahoma has the largest Native American community. It’s where he targets a lot of his activates.”
Wofford is a part of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee at Oklahoma and suggested they host a camp for Native American children in Oklahoma.
The idea took off from there and ballooned into the event that saw OU athletes from every sport lend a hand.
“I wanted to be out here for service,” OU quarterback Trevor Knight said, “serve the kids of this community. They are supportive us; we need to be supportive of them. Just let them have a fun day running around the practice field. It’s a blessing to come out here and be here for these kids.
“For Oklahoma to put something like this on is pretty cool.”
The event included sports-related and cultural activities such as bead work, nutrition, refueling station, stick ball, stretching, track/sprints, hula hoop, jump rope, four square and soccer.
Each station was manned by several OU athletes.
“It’s huge, for any kid, not just in this community, to come out here and run around with a bunch of athletes. It’s a dream come true for little kids,” Knight said. “I know when I was little, I would have loved to have done something like this. Just to be able to serve them in this way is pretty special.”
One of the ambassadors of Nike N7 initiative is the first native American Dallas Cowboy’s cheerleader Veronica Lind. As a member of the Navajo tribe, she knows how important good role models can be among her people.
“It’s unfortunate that Native Americans get the kind of coverage and rap that you can’t be successful,” Lind said. “That Native Americans struggle with obesity, drug abuse, alcoholism. So it’s important for ambassadors and athletes to come out and show Native American children that you can be a role model and that you can succeed and that there is opportunity for you.”
Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said he envisions Sooners For N7 becoming an annual event and was pleased with the way students jumped at the chance to support the community.
“I think it’s a big showing of what we are here,” Knight said. “This is completely student-athlete run. So we just have a really good group of core people that are putting this kind of stuff on.
“It just shows that we care. We care about the community, we care about the people. We are athletes and we have pretty stiff schedules, but any time we can do something like this that affects the community, we try and do it.”
Follow me @eyeamtruth
Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.