Upcoming Lobo football events:
Saturday: Special Olympics of New Mexico Mayor's Track Invitational (10:15-2:30 p.m.)
Selected Lobo players will serve as judges
March 13: Senior Pro Day
March 25: Spring Practice starts
By Greg Archuleta
UNM Assistant Director of Communications
A bunch of kids were running around the field, being entertained at Kirtland Elementary School on Monday.
But then those kids had to leave because they had a Lobo football team meeting to attend.
In the meantime, the eight Lobo football offensive linemen also put smiles on the faces of the 40 or so Kirtland students to kick off the third annual Lobo Football Club after-school program.
The players will spend eight Monday afternoons in the spring with the Kirtland kids – from kindergarten to fifth grade – showing them various football and exercise drills.
“APS has an incentive for “Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies,” said Alene Hardin, the Kirtland teach in charge of the Lobo Football Club program. “So this is helping with the ‘Healthy Bodies’ part. The kids absolutely adore this program. The teachers like it because the kids are getting a lot of exercise.
“I just can’t say how much I appreciate the Lobos sending out their player to work with us.”
Except that it’s not work.
“This is a lot of fun for me,” junior Johnny Vizcaino said of his second appearance with the Lobo Football Club. “I love being around kids; they are some of the most humorous people I know.”
The Lobos became involved with the school because of Hardin’s relationship with UNM offensive line coach Jason Lenzmeier, who happens to be her son-in-law.
“I don’t think that’s the reason he sends the kids out her,” Hardin says, “but it helps.”
2014 senior Jamal Price has organized the event the past three years, recruiting volunteers for the event – though he says recruitment is not necessary; he gets plenty of volunteers. Joining Price in the event this spring are Vizcaino, sophomore Garrett Adcock, redshirt freshman Toye Adewon, sophomore Josh Baggett, junior Bryan Oldenkamp, senior Dillon Romine and redshirt freshman Draven Taylor.
“This was a great opportunity for me to come and hang out with the kids,” Taylor said, making his initial appearance at the event. “I’m not from Albuquerque, so events like this give me the opportunity to learn a little more about the community.”
“Community” is what keeps bringing Price and Vizcaino back to the school to engage in the after-school program with the kids.
“It’s important to show people you’re not fake and you’re doing this because you want to do this,” Price said. “Doing this is not about me; it’s for me to give back to the community, which has given to us for so many years. So I’m out here trying to show my support, trying to show we love this community, and we’re out here to have fun.”
Vizcaino said, “I feel like the University of New Mexico does so much for us, the opportunity they provide for us with our scholarships, that it makes a lot of sense to give back to the community that UNM finds itself in. To go out and help the community means a lot to me because UNM’s come to mean a lot to me these past two years.”
Part of the eight-week program also will include a day later this month in which the players will take part in reading to the students as part of Kirtland’s Young Reader’s Week. The linemen will read from their favorite works by Dr. Seuss.
“That’s fun, too,” Hardin said, “because they have to sit in kindergarten first grade chairs to read “The Cat in the Hat Came Back.”
Price jokes that he has to keep the players on their toes because he knows Hardin is likely to let Lenzmeier know how his position group performed.
“Most definitely, she’s reporting back to him,” Price said. "But it’s nice to have someone check up on us every now and then.”
This year, Price has an added responsibility of selecting his successor in organizing the players for the event because 2014 will be final season of college football.
Asked whether he’s made any decisions, Price shrugged.
“Not yet,” he said, embracing Adewon. “I have a lot of volunteers, including Toye. It’s whoever wants to take over the reins.”
Adewon grinned when asked about taking over as O-Line coordinator.
“I would love to take the reins on this,” he said. “I love the kids; I want to put a smile on their face, show them the smile on my face and represent Lobo football the right way.”