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Nike N7 Jacoby Ellsbury Baseball Camp

Jacoby Ellsbury races a camp participant to the finish line, as other youth cheer them both on.

On January 7, New York Yankees centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (Navajo) hosted his sixth annual Nike N7 Jacoby Ellsbury Baseball Camp at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Ellsbury, along with other Major League Baseball players and staff from the Arizona Diamondbacks, conducted the clinic for youth from various tribal communities, including 20 Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community youth. Ellsbury is one of the ambassadors for the Nike N7 sports program for American Indian youth.

Youth ages 9 to 18 got hands-on baseball experience from Ellsbury and trainers through a series of skill drills. Ellsbury told the youth that the techniques they were shown are actual MLB techniques. They were shown proper form and given advice from some of the best in the league.

SRPMIC Vice-President Martin Harvier welcomed the attendees to the clinic.

“I love the game of baseball and I love to play,” Harvier said. “I was so grateful to the coaches that took the time to teach us. Baseball is a busy time, but Jacoby and the coaches here are taking the time out to show you some fundamentals that you can use. To reach the level that Jacoby is at, you guys need to work hard and have fun while doing so. This is also one of the reasons why [Salt River Fields] was built, to help the youth learn about the game.”

Harvier and Ellsbury both played Little League in Parker, Arizona.

Q&A with Jacoby Ellsbury
What motivates you to come back every year to hold this baseball camp?

I love doing it. I look forward to this day every year. I think [it’s] just seeing the smiles on the [kids’] faces, seeing the excitement they have and to fulfill the goal of N7, which is to keep the kids moving and to keep kids active.

What’s something you want the kids to take away from the camp?

I would like to encourage the kids to try a new sport this year. It might be something you like or something you never knew you were really good at. This camp is about having fun, getting out there and moving. For me, I’m going to try boxing.

What is your advice to Native youth?

Work hard. If you want to get better, you have to put the time in. People see a certain athlete [whose talent] might seem God-given, but let me tell you, they’ve put a lot of time into building their craft, improving and getting better. There’s a lot of things that go on behind the scenes that we don’t see, that [athletes] continuously work on so they can get better. Team sports are great as well. You can learn a lot of life skills through athletics and sports.

Did you have a Native American role model growing up?

I looked to my parents as role models. But I also remember when I was in middle school, or maybe my first year of high school, Billy Mills came to talk with us. To be honest, I was just impressed. Here’s an Olympic gold medal winner that came in and took his time to talk to us. That’s something that always stuck with me. I look back now and I think I appreciate it even more now.

What is your favorite inspirational quote?

“If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”

What is your New Year’s resolution?

Something that I would like to do is learn Navajo. I have a 14-month-old, so her grandma has been teaching her Navajo and it’s been pretty neat to see her interact with her grandma and learn words. That’s something that I’ve [occasionally] worked on, but this year I think it would be neat to [really] work at it.

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