As the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project gears up for its most popular Youth Sport program, the annual basketball league, volunteer coaches from across the Pueblo of Zuni also are eagerly anticipating the start of the 2023 season on Mar. 20. One of those coaches is 17-year-old Alex Boone.

Alex was born and raised in Zuni. He first got involved with sports when Dr. Tom Faber, ZYEP’s founder, introduced him to soccer when he was 10 years old.

“It was such a good thing, because it showed me my full potential and what I could do physically,” remembers Alex, now a senior at Zuni High School. “Then I got involved in basketball, track and field, and football.

“Sports are important for me,” he continues. “They keep me active, but they’re also calming, and I get to build relationships with my teammates.”

Alex joined ZYEP’s team of Youth Sport coaches during the 2022 soccer league last August and September. It was a positive experience for the teen, with benefits that extended beyond sports skills.

“Coaching taught me how to be a leader, and how to be responsible for both the little kids and the older ones,” he explains.

Alex grew up speaking Zuni at home, and he says he appreciated the opportunity to speak a little of the language with the kids. ZYEP strives to incorporate Zuni language and culture into all of its programs, including the soccer, flag football and basketball leagues.

“All of their programs connect to our culture, and that’s good for our community,” he says. “We have such a rich culture.”

Alex has a younger brother and sister, as well as a large extended family. When he’s not busy coaching, he says he enjoys spending time with them — especially playing catch outside with his 13-year-old brother.

He reveals that he has been accepted to New Mexico Highlands University, which has five locations in the state. He is planning to study psychology.

“I’ll live somewhere else for awhile,” Alex says. “But then I’ll go deeper into my career here. I want to come home and help my community.”