Here at CRYP, one of our greatest joys is to see our kids grow up, realize their true potential, and pursue their treasured dreams for the future. This month, we’d like to shine the spotlight on one of those kids.
Nate Widow, 20, started coming to the Cokata Wiconi (“Center of Life”) teen center in 2001, when he was in 8th grade. He says he first started visiting the center to take advantage of open gym, and after that, he was a regular.
“CRYP gave me a place to go that was always safe and always fun,” Nate says. “Plus, I could work on my basketball game and skills in a positive place. Most of my friends also went there, so it was a social place, too. I liked participating because I was always bored, and I didn’t want to go out and drink alcohol or do drugs. I wanted to keep busy, and keep positive.”
Nate was an enthusiastic supporter of Midnight Basketball, one of CRYP’s longest-running and most popular teen programs. MBB allows teens to stay out after Eagle Butte’s 10 p.m. curfew; held from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., young people can play ball, have snacks and refreshments, and enjoy time with friends.
“I really liked Midnight Basketball the best because it was very different, and there was that competitive atmosphere for basketball, which I loved,” he says.
Nate graduated from Cheyenne River’s Dupree High School in 2013. Then, in 2014-15, he took on a new role with CRYP: He worked as a youth programs assistant. As a staff member, he was responsible for creating activities for teens and for the 4- to 12-year-olds who attend The Main youth center, with a special emphasis on sports and wellness.
“I wanted the job because I can remember so many volunteers and staff members at CRYP that gave back to kids like me when I went there,” he explains. “I really wanted to give back to the youth, the way so many others did before me.”
Nate currently attends Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota, where he’s a redshirt sophomore for the men’s basketball team. He’s majoring in sports management, with a nonprofit emphasis. While he’s not exactly sure what he’d like to do after college, he says he hopes it’s something that allows him to help young people through basketball, other sports and after-school activities.
“I’m thinking of becoming an athletic director and hopefully learning how to write grants,” Nate says.
No matter how busy his life gets, Nate always makes time for CRYP when he returns home to the Cheyenne River reservation.
“CRYP is so important for youth in our community, because it really does provide a safe place to express yourself,” he says. “The staff members and volunteers wholeheartedly care about you, and wish you nothing but the best. I was always into basketball, and the gym gave me a place to express myself. Now, there’s the Waniyetu Wowapi (“Winter Count”) Art Park, where young people who love art can express their personalities and passions.
“It’s one of the places I always go and visit,” he adds, “because it’s so much a part of me and my success.”