Minor league professional instructs baseball camp

By Sunnie Clahchischiligi
Special to the Times

KIRTLAND, N.M., April 25, 2013

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(Sunnie Clahchischiligi – Special to the Times)

TOP: Two young baseball players practice their hitting during the Naa'taani Sports Academy youth baseball camp held on April 20-21 headed by Minor League pitcher Jeremy Tietze of the San Angelo Colts at the newly built indoor facility in Kirtland, N.M.

SECOND FROM TOP: Minor League pitcher, Jeremy Tietze of the San Angelo Colts gets ready to pitch the ball to a participant at the Naa'taanii Sports Academy youth baseball camp.

E ight curious athletes spent last weekend learning the game of baseball from Jeremy Tietze, a pitcher for the San Angelo Colts, a minor league baseball team in San Angelo, Texas. The camp was held at the newly built Naa'taanii Sports Academy, an indoor facility in Kirtland, N.M.

Tietze has been training in Albuquerque during his offseason and came in contact with Naa'taanii founder Dineh Benally, who asked Tietze to instruct this year's camp.

The camp was Tietze's second time instructing at the camp. He said teaching baseball is something he's always enjoyed doing.

"I like to see kids develop and I like to be a part of that," he said. "It keeps me in the game too…by instructing the camp it helps remind me of all the mechanics and the basics in the game."

Thomas Montanez, manager of the facility and 12-and-under Naa'taanii Red baseball coach, said it was another successful event that gave the young athletes a rare opportunity to learn from a professional.

"There are a lot of talented kids, there are a lot of Native American kids that don't get the opportunity," Montanez said. "They got a lot out of it."

Montanez said the camp, which was the second youth camp hosted by Naa'taanii, was meant to help further the skills that some of the athletes already had.

And even though they had fewer participants this year, it didn't take away from the quality of instructions the athletes received.

"There's more of a benefit of having a lesser turnout, you get more of that one-on-one instruction with the instructor," he said. "He's able to know everybody by name now."

Tietze said he's had experience instructing young players in other big places such as Albuquerque but finds that those on or near the Navajo Reservation are more eager to learn.

"I feel like when I come up here for Naa'taanii baseball, the kids here are very attentive and they're willing to learn," he said. "It's fun to me, I get a joy out of helping the youth in baseball and doing my part in baseball."

Montanez said having someone like Tietze instruct is a great opportunity for the young athletes.

He said the athletes enjoy working with Tietze because he brings an outside perspective.

Shayne Roanhorse, 12, a member of the 12-and0under Naa'taanii Red baseball team in Farmington attended this year's and last year's camps.

Roanhorse, a student at Grace B. Elementary, said he learned a lot from the first camp and wanted to come back.

"I like it because it keeps me active and it's fun to play," Roanhorse said. "I learned more…about pitching, batting and throwing."

Most of the athletes were from the Farmington area but Montanez said there's been some interest from as far away as Page and Flagstaff.

"We're just happy kids are in here," he said. "Where else can you get a place like this in Kirtland or near Shiprock. We're happy, we're all happy."

Information: call Thomas Montanez at 505-330-4313.

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