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."
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
McCraken said in the future he is hoping
to make the event bigger, but he needs more sponsorship to make
"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
The former high school basketball coach,
who became an entrepreneur, pitched that idea to Nike officials
about crafting a brand to address this epidemic.
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
spare time on other things, but they choose to give back to a community
that we all care about."