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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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A day with Jacoby
Boston Red Sox centerfielder hosts baseball camp for Native youth
by Quentin Jodie - Navajo Times
credits: photos by Donovan Quintero

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — The plush manicured grounds inside the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Ariz., was overrun with Native American kids between the ages of 8 to 16 on Saturday.

They took part in the Second Annual N7 Jacoby Ellsbury Baseball Camp on the same complex that is used by the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies during the spring training session in Major League Baseball.

Ellsbury, who is a registered member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes and centerfielder for the Boston Red Sox, conducted his baseball camp to the tune of 130-plus kids, which included a few athletes from the Navajo reservation.

"It's great to see the kids' faces light up," Ellsbury said. "Last year we started out with 60 kids and this year we had 130 of them."

And while it's important to start learning the basics at an early age, Ellsbury said the purpose of his camp was to "get kids involved."

"N7 is about getting kids out, getting them active," Ellsbury said. "Getting the kids to live a healthy active lifestyle. That is the what the initiative is all about."

Sam McCraken, the creator of the Nike N7 group, said he was extremely pleased with the turnout on Saturday as each kid got a lot of individual attention from athletes and personnel associated with MLB.

"It was great," McCraken said. "What these kids are walking away from is hands-on experience. Not only did Jacoby Ellsbury, our ambassador, come out and help, but his friends took part of this event. The Arizona Diamondbacks, who are great partners of ours, brought in their coaching academy to help facilitate it."

McCraken said in the future he is hoping to make the event bigger, but he needs more sponsorship to make it happen.

"I think this a perfect size," he said, while adding that the N7 foundation was started as a way to combat the high prevalence of obesity and Type 2 diabetes among Native Americans.

The former high school basketball coach, who became an entrepreneur, pitched that idea to Nike officials about crafting a brand to address this epidemic.

"When I started to create the brand I asked myself, 'How can I leverage the power of sport and all the benefits that come through sports to help our kids address the challenges in our community?'

"And knowing the high rate of diabetes and knowing the high rate of obesity and suicide rates in our communities, if sport can play a role and help change that – I wanted to be a part of that."

And to help bring this to the forefront, the N7 foundation has used other professional athletes such as marathon runner Alvina Begay and Oklahoma football player Sam Bradford to help promote its initiative.

"That is the beauty about N7," McCraken said. "Each one of the ambassadors came to me and wanted to volunteer their time and give back to the community. They can…spend their spare time on other things, but they choose to give back to a community that we all care about."

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