Embrace Sportz Launches Free Cross Country Camp to Reignite Interest and Unlock Scholarship Opportunities for Detroit Youth

Embrace Sportz announced the launch of a transformative new camp designed to expose Detroit’s youth to the sport of Cross Country. Aimed at students from 6th to 12th grade, this initiative seeks to revive participation in Cross Country within Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) and open doors to valuable collegiate scholarship opportunities that have been overlooked for too long. The camp will run from July 7 – July 12.

Despite the rich athletic talent in Detroit, participation in Cross Country has dwindled so drastically that regional championships and national qualifiers have become a rarity. This decline has left significant scholarship money unclaimed, particularly among Black and Brown students, with young women being the most affected.

“After track season ends in Detroit, there’s no continuation into Cross Country training,” said Shaka Dukes, co-founder of Embrace Sportz and a former Mumford High School Track & Field and Cross Country star. “This camp is our effort to change that and provide a platform for these students to shine.”

The week-long camp will simulate the experience of regular Cross Country training, aiming to inspire students to participate in their school teams or join running clubs. Held at Cass Benton Park in Northville, the camp will provide bus transportation, lunch, and snacks daily, ensuring accessibility and convenience for all participants. The camp is free of charge.

“Track & Field and Cross Country are distinct sports, each offering unique opportunities,” added Menachem Dukes, co-founder and fellow Mumford High School alumnus and star athlete. “Our goal is to educate students and parents alike about the potential of Cross Country, particularly the scholarship opportunities that come with it.”

The camp will include comprehensive training sessions, education on proper nutrition and footwear, and a supportive environment for all experience levels. By providing these resources, Shaka and Menachem Dukes are doing the groundwork to ensure Detroit’s youth lead healthy lifestyles and have alternate pathways to college education.

Cross Country offers a unique and transformative impact on our Black youth, fostering resilience, discipline, and a strong sense of community. It serves as a powerful tool for personal growth, teaching young runners to overcome physical and mental challenges while building their confidence and self-esteem. Participation in this sport not only promotes physical health and well-being but also opens doors to educational opportunities through scholarships that can pave the way to higher education and future success. By engaging in Cross Country, Black youth can break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and realize their potential both on and off the track, creating a ripple effect of positive change within their communities.

In recent history, Detroit’s representation in national Cross Country competitions has been scarce. In 2008, the Macomb X-men running club’s 17-18-year-old boys won the AAU nationals, while the Ann Arbor Track Club last represented Michigan at the AAU nationals in 2014. Embrace Sportz held a girls’ team in 2021 that went to the AAU nationals, marking a significant milestone. However, there hasn’t been a male team from Detroit representing Cross Country in the AAU nationals since 2007; a team in which the Dukes brothers were on.

“The scholarships are out there; it’s time our kids knew how to claim them,” said Shaka Dukes. “Cross Country is a dying sport in our schools and communities, but we are here to revive it and show our kids that they can succeed both on the track and in life.”

Enrollment for the camp is now open. For more information and to register, please visit www.embracesportz.org.

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