Former Charger Notah Begay III highlighted the important role Albuquerque Academy played in his success as an athlete and academic in a July 20 YouTube video posted by the National Federation of State High School Associations. Begay is one of 12 Class of 2022 NFHS National High School Hall of Fame inductees.
In the video, he says he started working at Ladera Golf Course at the age of 9, where he continued to work every summer for the next eight years. “and by the time I was 17 I was the number-one ranked junior golfer in the United States with a scholarship to Stanford, with a wonderful education from Albuquerque Academy that gave me the foundational support to succeed at Stanford,” Begay said.
According to Begay, he wasn’t supposed to be successful. “I was an anomaly,” he says in the video. “I wasn’t supposed to make it. I was supposed to be a statistic.” He said suicide and dropout rates in high school and college on the Navajo reservation he is from were some of the highest in the country. “I was supposed to be one of those and I wasn’t, and it was because of the support I got at this school.”
Begay played golf, basketball and soccer at Academy in the late 1980s, helping to bring home the state title in basketball two years in a row for the school while also earning all-state honors in basketball and soccer. He was named all-American in golf and as a senior voted high school athlete of the year. He secured the state golf title in 1989 and won the National High School Golf Championship the following year.
After receiving a scholarship at Stanford, Begay became the first full-blooded Native American to play on the PGA Tour. He was a four-time PGA Tour winner and played in the 2000 President’s Cup for the U.S. team. In 2005, he established the Notah Begay III, or NB3, Foundation, and in 2013 became a golf commentator for NBC and the Golf Channel.
The mission of the NB3 Foundation is, “To ensure Native children achieve their full potential by advancing cultures of Native American community health.” The foundation has served 80,000 Native youth and invested $10 million in Native communities since its founding, according to the NB3 website. In 2013, the UNM men’s basketball team auctioned off turquoise jerseys and autographed items from Begay, with the proceeds split between the NB3 Foundation and UNM’s American Indian Student Services Center.
Begay said his high school soccer coach, Bruce Musgrave, was instrumental in helping him pass the verbal part of the SAT after initially failing that part of the exam. He said Musgrave would tutor him at 6 a.m. until he retook and passed the exam before getting into Stanford. “I’m indebted to him for putting that time for sort of believing in me that I have the ability to do what I did, and so I look back on those years fondly,” Begay says in the video. “They are wonderful, and it was sports and the people affiliated with those sports teams that was provided by the school that gave me that pathway to my future.”
Find out what else Begay had to say in the NFHS Network YouTube video seen below.