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Thursday, September 22, 2005
Updated: September 23, 7:23 PM ET
New Mexico State student to call Cal game in Navajo

Associated Press

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- New Mexico State student Cuyler Frank entertains his friends and others in the stands with his mock play-by-play during Aggie home games, but he will get to do the real thing in his native language when NMSU hosts No. 13 Cal on Friday.

Frank, who is from Newcomb, will team up with Lanell Pahe of Crownpoint to broadcast the game in Navajo. It will be available on the university's Web site.

"I want to do the games in Navajo because I want to share some of the experiences of New Mexico State students with the Navajo Nation," Frank said. "It gives us a chance to share with our people what is going on here and what we are accomplishing as Navajos."

Several stations already broadcast high school games in Navajo, but Friday will mark the first time an NMSU football game has been broadcast in the language.

The Navajo Nation spans New Mexico, Arizona and Utah and is home to more than 250,000 people.

NMSU President Michael Martin said he's proud of the students who are taking the initiative to expand the school's ability to reach every citizen.

"Their willingness to tackle this challenge and be part of the expanding NMSU Aggie Planet is indicative of the importance we place on reaching all communities," he said Wednesday.

The effort also gives the school's Navajo students a new way to communicate with those back home.

"We don't hear much sports broadcasting in Navajo," Pahe said. "There is nothing like it. Most of the elders don't speak English very well. It gives them a new opportunity to see what is going on outside the [Navajo] nation."

Shandeen Curtis, a student athletic trainer with the football team and a Navajo from Kirtland, said the broadcast is an opportunity not only for people who enjoy listening to the game but also to bring new fans to the program.

"We have a great sports program and we are building something special here," she said. "If people listen, we can develop a following and they can see a program that is ready to take off."

The challenge for Frank and Pahe is that Navajo is very different from English. For example, there's no word for first down.

"It takes nearly twice as long to say something in Navajo as it does English," Frank said. "I've just got to concentrate on the basics."