Amid mild temperatures and windy conditions, players from ages 14-18 took to the football field at The Oaks on the Soboba Indian Reservation to participate in the 2023 Soboba Youth Turkey Bowl on Nov. 21. Steve Lopez, Assistant Director for Soboba Parks and Recreation and Harold Arres, Regional TANF Manager for Soboba Tribal TANF, collaborated on a day of fun for youth that were off school for the week due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
Near the football field, TANF staff members set up tables with art supplies for young artists taking part in the Paint Workshop being offered. They were encouraged to create a desert scape with sample ideas printed out and placed on each table for reference, but many took artistic liberties and painted different types of scenes or made their own choice of colors.
Open to all Native youth, both activities were appreciated by parents to give their children a fun and productive outing to share with friends and family. Several players came from Pala to join the flag football game. After warmups, two teams were formed and tied on yellow or red flags for some three-on-three action. Mike Durett, who has been a Rec Aide for the Parks and Recreation Department for about four years and said football is one of his favorite sports, served as coordinator for the game.
TANF Program Specialist II Angelica Crawford squirted paints into plastic holders while Jane Sorroza and JJ Sanders-Alto stayed busy handing out canvases, paintbrushes and other helpful duties. Crawford said Soboba Tribal TANF has offered activities throughout November for Native Heritage Month. This paint workshop preceded ornament beading and leather pouch making classes to close out the month.
“All our classes are open to entire families from all our programs,” Crawford said. “We posted flyers, along with our schedule on social media and made phone calls and texts to make sure everyone knew about them. We had 41 RSVP for this event that is open to all ages.”
Taryn Placencia Grant brought all four of her children because they “love to paint.” Anaya, 8, Liam, 6, Leilani, 4 and Talla, 1, all created colorful pieces that will be going home with them. “We have a whole gallery at home,” Grant said.
Jordyn Placencia, 13, and Laura Celaya, 12, are friends and cousins who heard about the event from their mother and grandmother respectively. “We just wanted to come out and do some art for fun,” they said.
Lopez said the Turkey Bowl was very popular pre-COVID when 30-40 players would come out for the game. It was revived in 2022 and this year he said many of the kids who had enjoyed it in previous years were sidelined with basketball practices at local high schools and other sports team commitments.
“We adopted ITS sports rules with 70 yards total,” Lopez said. “They have four downs to get across the midpoint and another four plays to score a touchdown or the other team gets the ball. We modified it to make it a faster game and a little more fun.”
Red team member Isaac Johnson, 16, from Pala said he was glad to see something offered for the youth. Andrew Salgado, also 16 but from Cahuilla, plays football for Noli Indian School at the Soboba Reservation and said the Braves did pretty well in this year’s season. Pala’s Stephen Isaac, 14, who said his usual sports are baseball and rugby, rounded out the red team.
On the yellow team, Bradly Guachino of Pala is 15 and said he has played rugby for a Valley Center club team for the past seven or so years and likes to play football just for fun. Before the game started, he asked, “How serious are we playing because I’ve got cleats if I need them.” He was joined by teammate Cainen Jaime, 14, also from Pala, who said. “I don’t really play football but it’s cool.” His usual sport is boxing through House of Pain So Cal Boxing & Fitness Club in Temecula. And he regularly participates in activities through the Break Cycle Warriors program, founded by Bradly Guachino Sr. who played on the yellow team to even things out.
Before halftime, Lopez began grilling hot dogs and hamburgers for everyone. When the break came, the score was 30 to 14, in favor of the yellow team.
Photos courtesy of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians