Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School sophomore Siomara Caballero travelled to Toronto in July to compete with more than 5,000 other young athletes from across the United States and Canada at the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG). As part of Team New York, a group of girls and boys representing the state’s Haudensaunee Confederacy, Caballero won Bronze medals in the 1200m, 2000m and the 3K cross-country races in her age group. She took the Silver Medal in the 800m race. Her team collected a total of 13 medals throughout the games.
The NAIG is the largest sporting and cultural gathering of indigenous peoples in North America. It hosts 14 sport competitions, including track and field, lacrosse, archery, baseball, basketball, and soccer, in a variety of world-class venues during the week. It is also a celebration of a rich cultural heritage, featuring indigenous artists, music, foods, and history.
“It felt good to be a part of a movement that is trying to increase awareness for indigenous youth in sports,” Caballero said. “I felt that I learned more about my family's history and culture. I enjoyed getting to know the other kids on my team, and representing the Haudensaunee people.” (Haudensaunee tribes include the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca.)
Caballero is an enrolled member of the Seneca Nation of Indians, Wolf Clan. She became interested in NAIG in 2014, and qualified for the team in 2016.
“I put in a lot of time preparing for the games and I feel that my hard work payed off,” she said.
At Byron-Bergen, she runs varsity cross-country in the fall, plays JV basketball in the winter, and participates in varsity track and field in the spring. She has been a Genesee Region All-Star in XC and track and field for the past two years.
“My favorite memory from the games was trading pins with other athletes,” she said. “We all started with a set of team pins designed to represent the areas and tribes we were from, and we traded throughout the week. I was able to collect pins from kids from all over the U.S. and Canada. It was a great way to interact with people that I might not have otherwise spoken to. I had a lot of fun!”
She looks forward to a busy year at Byron-Bergen, with athletics and a full academic schedule. She is taking classes at Genesee Community College as part of the STEM accelerated degree program, and is in several clubs, including PageTurners, Spanish Club, and Math League.
“After I graduate from high school,” she said, “I would like to major in math or science in college. I want to be a role model for my younger sister and brother, so they can know that anything is possible with hard work.”
She hopes that her sister will join her at the next NAIG in 2020.
“I would like to thank my parents and family for their support and for spending the week in Toronto cheering me on,” she said.