Sat Apr 14th, 2018
Jeremy Wade Shockley
The Southern Ute Drum
Southern Ute tribal member Virgil Morgan recently stepped up to the plate for his new role as SunUte Recreation Manager. Morgan is no stranger to the program or SunUte, he got his start early at the community center working the front desk and eventually moving up to the position of Recreation Specialist in 2012 — a position he has exceled at and enjoyed over the past six years. Morgan knows the community well and has earned their trust through communication and hard work.
“We need to be able to listen to what their needs are, and it’s important that we are open to those ideas, or needs,” he explained. “We are giving the youth [in the community] and the membership the opportunity to be part of recreation. The recreation component of the community center is responsible for organizing sporting events, leagues, and tournaments — in addition to year around field trip opportunities for youth.
Morgan puts a strong emphasis on community, and wants to see more engagement with the youth, as well more opportunities made available through programming and field trips. Diversity is key. Not all of the youth are excited about athletics, or sports. Not all families can afford to pay for memberships, or field trip fees. SunUte wants to break down those barriers. “I see SunUte as a way to bring the community together regardless of their income backgrounds,” Morgan said. “I want to teach kids not just to have fun, but to see the world — sometimes these kids only see life through their phones — we have to give them an opportunity to experience life first hand. The opportunity to discover how they relate to the world on their terms.”
“We are very excited about having Virgil named the recreation manager,” SunUte Director Robin Duffy-Wirth said. “I have worked with him for six years and I know that he cares deeply about the kids, the tribal membership. He has a heart of gold and his people skills are outstanding. This is extremely important when working with children and families.”
Virgil is looking forward to bringing recreation to a whole new level — offering diverse field trips, more leagues, clubs and tournaments. “He knows the families and wants what is best for them at all times. He has children the age we are focusing on and understands what they want,” Duffy -Wirth said.
Currently Recreation is comprised of three staff members: Virgil Morgan, Kelsey Frost, and Shalaunda Roan. SunUte is in the process of filling the Recreation Specialist position vacated by Morgan. The team is intently focused on the upcoming Tri-Ute Games to be hosted by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe in Ignacio at the end of May. They have 88 tribal members signed up for various events and hope to reach their goal of a hundred participants. “This is a great opportunity for the kids to meet each other, to talk and get to know one another outside of the competition aspects of Tri-Ute,” Morgan said. He also explained that some of the field trips are coordinated to cater to those seeking other interest, such as SunUte’s recent field trip to the Albuquerque Comic-Con. “We are also targeting those kids who don’t do sports, we want them to be part of SunUte too,” Morgan explained.