Zion Williamson has been a presence in basketball fans’ lives since his high school highlights were being reposted and shared by ESPN, Overtime, and Bleacher Report, among others. The jaw-dropping dunks and sheer athleticism on display were unlike anything anyone had seen since LeBron.
Zion would go on to spend one year at Duke, where he exceeded expectations. The most memorable moment of his college career might have been when, in a game against UNC, his shoe exploded after he tried to plant and cut. That high-profile incident, plus his status as the most hyped prospect in a decade, made his decision about what sneaker company he would sign with one of the most highly anticipated choices in a decade.
While every major brand made a huge push to land Zion’s signature, he eventually committed to Jordan. Now, in his second season with New Orleans, Zion has the team challenging for a playoff spot. Meanwhile, Jordan announced the launch of his first signature shoe, the Jordan Zion 1.
Zion is built like almost no other player in the league. The brute strength and raw power he plays with make him nearly unguardable in one-on-one situations. Designing a shoe that will hold up to and accentuate his style of play was going to be a challenge, but the team at Jordan seems to have risen to it.
Cushioning and support were always going to be the two most important aspects of the shoe. Zion is a big man, and he needs a shoe that will prevent as much wear and tear on his knees and feet as possible. A full-length Air Strobel unit stitched directly into the upper helps give the impression that of walking on a cloud. Pair that with a Zoom Air unit sitting under the forefoot, and that’s how the design team came up with the perfect amount of cushioning for any player no matter how big or small.
The support in the shoe is also broken down into two components. The first is the higher sidewalls to protect players moving side to side. The shoe is a 5/8 cut, splitting the difference between low and high. The other component is a two-loop band that locks players in every time they lace up.
Other key components of the shoe include a multidirectional traction pattern to provide elite grip for all the planting and cutting players do throughout the game. There is also a padded tongue to relieve some of the pressure the laces put on the top of your foot.
The Jordan Zion 1 will be available starting 4/23. Make sure to head to Eastbay to snag a pair as well as all other Zion apparel from Jordan.
In March, Green Bay wide receiver Davante Adams went back to his alma mater, Palo Alto High School, to surprise the football team with some advice, inspiration, and – with Eastbay’s help – fresh gear.
Adams knows that giving back is about more than just the physical items you’re giving. It’s about supporting the next generation of athletes who are looking to build a name and a future for themselves both on and off the field. And it’s about the lasting impact sport can have on young people and their communities.
“My time here at Pally shaped who I am. All my experiences, from state championships to the occasional losses that we had, we got to learn from that. How to win, how to come together as a team. A lot of what took place here, I feel like it shaped me for who I am in the league. The things I’m able to achieve, I can attribute to this.
Sports is a huge thing. It holds communities together. It was the #1 outlet for people in my neighborhood growing up in East Palo Alto to kind of have an escape and a way to stay out of trouble.
To be in a position now where I’m blessed to be able to do what I love and receive opportunities like this to team up with Eastbay and make this happen for the kids – it’s life changing for them, and I know that. It brings me instant gratification to be able to do that for them.”
Each month Eastbay is highlighting a top high school athlete by spotlighting their accomplishments both in and outside the game. This month’s winner is basketball player Elizabeth Elliott from St. Mary’s Academy in California. Elizabeth is a four-year team captain and starter who was named Camino Real League MVP in her freshman and sophomore seasons. She also displays an incredible work ethic in the classroom, posting a 4.33 weighted GPA, which is one of the best in her class. Elizabeth earned St. Mary’s Student-Athlete of the Year award three times and has accepted a full-ride scholarship to play basketball at the University of Pacific. Elizabeth was nominated by her basketball coach Tramon Steele for being a tremendous athlete on the court and even better student in the classroom. Here’s Elizabeth, in her own words, on her experience as a high school student-athlete.
What is your definition of a successful student-athlete?
My definition of a successful student-athlete is a person who competes on the court and in the classroom. If one can manage a hectic schedule while juggling demanding AP commitments along with being the best teammate and player they can be, then that person is definitely working towards success. I believe a successful student athlete also has a backup plan or can rely on their academics when the ball stops. Lastly, a successful student athlete knows their limits on and off the court and still manages to love the sport while merging it with school requirements.
What has been the highlight of your athletic career so far?
I have a few highlight moments that I will cherish forever. The biggest one is receiving a scholarship to play basketball at a Division 1 University. There are over 399,000 plus girls that play high school basketball and only 1.3% get to play at the Division 1 level. So, receiving a scholarship to play basketball is a huge highlight of its own. The other highlights in my athletic career are being recognized as a top 100 player by ESPN HoopGurlz, winning league MVP as a sophomore, and being recognized by my city as one of the best players.
Who is your role model in athletics?
I would have to say my father, Kevin Elliott, and my high school coach Tramon Steele. They’ve both been there for me throughout my high school and travel ball career. They both took the unconventional route to play college basketball, so their knowledge is real and raw. They work really well together to make sure I have everything I need to be successful. I can go to them for advice on different things and they always have my best interest in mind. They’ve really shown me that there’s more to the game than just getting buckets, like showing up for my team, making lifelong connections, and representing those who’ve come before me.
What do you love most about competing in athletics?
Being in a team atmosphere. It’s one of the best feelings in the world. From putting your jerseys on to picking the pregame music, having teammates that you can call family just makes competing ten times better. I also love playing in big games. I like to prove others wrong when we play teams that are “better” than us. It allows you to test your limits and shows your teammates that you have their back—win, lose, or draw. Breaking boundaries and expectations is one of the best parts of competing.
What are some goals you’d like to achieve after high school?
After high school I will be attending the University of Pacific on a full basketball scholarship. For a long time, my main focus has been to get to college. Now that I’ve achieved it, the work finally begins. One of my goals is to win the West Coast Conference championship and to compete for a starting position. I also have ambitions to play overseas for a while. Academically, I would like to pursue a master’s degree or even a doctorate degree in psychology.
Amy Bream has the ultimate excuse for not going to the gym. Born without the majority of her right leg, Amy has used a prosthesis since she was old enough to walk. But this didn’t stop her from excelling in her workouts and challenging herself to learn how to kickbox. We got to talk to Amy about how she learned to turn her excuses into motivation.
Q: What were some old excuses you would tell yourself when you didn’t want to go to the gym?
A: I used to have so many excuses. My biggest excuses were the fear of failure and the fear of embarrassment. But then I came to the realization that everyone fails. You’re going to fail and you’re going to be just fine. So, I say do it anyway. And as for my fear of embarrassment, I realized people actually don’t care that much – and I mean that in a good way. I had this mindset that everyone was looking at me, but people really weren’t, and the few that were weren’t worth worrying about.
Q: How did you silence those excuses?
A: I was able to silence my excuses by spending time with someone who held me accountable. I told her my goal, that I wanted to go to the gym and be less afraid, and she kept me to that and showed up every day with me. I also silenced my excuses by reciting positive affirmations. I realized the power of my words, and that just saying simple things like “I can do this” or “you’re going to finish this” really affected me over time. I started to believe those things and live them out.
Q: What is the definition of motivation to you?
A: To me, motivation can be confused with a feeling, and motivation isn’t about a feeling. Motivation is really a mindset. I train because my reason for training is so much bigger than anything physical. So when I don’t feel motivated, I remember why I’m doing this. It’s about overcoming my fears and pushing past what I think are my limits. It’s about being consistent and showing up every single day.
Q: What’s your advice to someone who wants to start training in a gym?
A: I get asked all the time about what to do or how to start. I think you can look to other trainers or even online to see what they do as an example as a start. Everyone has to start somewhere, and everyone isn’t perfect at first. Don’t let that stop you from starting your training journey.
Q: What if they want to start but are intimidated by the gym?
A: I would say that it doesn’t really matter what you look like, and also that everyone feels a little intimidated at first. I think the best way to overcome that intimidation is really reminding yourself and deciding for yourself why you want to work out in the first place. Because the “why” will always be bigger than the fear. There’s a lot of things that I still am afraid of doing or trying, but my “why” is still always going to be louder than my fear of failure. If you have a “why” that’s important to you, everything else will fade away.
Q: What is the biggest misconception about your fitness journey?
A: One of the biggest misconceptions is that I’m someone who wants to workout every day and that I’m excited and amped to do it every day. There are actually very few days that I feel extremely motivated to workout. But I’ve seen the importance of consistency and I’ve seen the positives of what working out has done for my life beyond just improving my physical well-being.
The term “long-distance running” is pretty arbitrary when you think about it. For some of us, long-distance running means going on a five-mile jog. For others, it’s competing in a 26.2-mile marathon. And for ultrarunners like Jared Hazen and Mayra Garcia, it’s waking up before the crack of dawn to run 50 or 100 kilometers over the span of a full day.
That last group of people are outliers, of course, but over the past decade, there has been an increase in distance runners gravitating towards ultrarunning. We got to talk to Jared and Mayra about why they choose this extreme sport, what their workout regimen is like, and what HOKA products they use to train in.
Why did you get into ultrarunning?
Jared: I started running through competing in cross country and track. Once I was in high school, I was introduced to the trails through one of my high school coaches. I grew up in a pretty small town but we happen to have an ultramarathon that was pretty popular in the area, so I started running those trails more. Once I started learning more about ultrarunning, I was pretty fascinated by how somebody could run like 100 miles when I was only going out on the weekends and running 20 miles and getting destroyed on the trails. So it really was that fascination that led me to ultrarunning.
Mayra: I had a great coach and motivator. When I was running cross country, I didn’t know that there were races more than 3.1 miles. And my coach said that I could do more, do a marathon, and I just fell in love with it after that. My coach also told me that I would get stronger in road races if I started running trails too. So that’s really how I found ultrarunning and trail running.
How do you train for such a rigorous event like an ultramarathon?
Jared: I train year-round and there’s a certain focus on fitness that I really apply across a lot of different distance races. But when it comes to my specific training for ultras, once it gets closer to those races I ramp up the intensity of my training and focus on the long runs. I live in Flagstaff, so the Grand Canyon is only an hour and a half away, so that’s one of my favorite training spots. I’ll just go there and do 20 or 30 mile runs. When I’m getting ready for a long race, I usually get in three or more 20+ mile runs a week.
Mayra: I like to just put in miles. I also think recovery is a big part of getting my body ready for these longer races too. Every two weeks I get massages to make sure that I don’t get injured. But really it’s all about running A LOT. During the week, I like to stay on roads so I don’t lose my speed. I see my coach on Mondays and Wednesdays, so on a typical Monday we do the track. I do 400s and build myself up to 1600s. And on Wednesdays, we do tempo runs and hill repeats. When I’m on my own on Tuesdays, I do long, easy runs, and then on the weekends I run through the mountains. If I can, I’ll run the actual race trail itself to see where I can pick up and gain some time so I’m ready for race day. But usually I’m running like 10 to 20 miles on those days.
What has been the highlight of your running career so far?
Jared: I would say the runner-up finish at Western States (a 100-mile endurance run in Northern California). I have a fairly long history with Western States. I ran it in 2014 and 2015 and then didn’t run it for a few years. I got back into it last year and had a great race. I’ve really seen a nice progression there too. The first year I ran it, it took me about 17 ½ hours, and five years later it only took me 14 ½. It’s nice to see that type of progression and know that the work I’m putting in year after year is paying off.
Mayra: I think just running the 50ks around my area. Running is a small world – everyone knows everyone in the running community and that’s been a highlight for me. A lot of people got to see where I started, running 3:40 or 3:50 marathons and then got to see me drop down to 3:20 and win some of our local races. It’s awesome to see them smile or come congratulate me on the work I’ve done over the years. That’s what makes me truly happy.
What HOKA products do you use for your training?
Jared: My go-to training and racing shoe has been the Speedgoat, which is convenient. It’s a shoe that I can train in all the time, and it’s also a high-performance shoe that I can take and race in. It’s nice because on race day, it’s nothing new. It’s a shoe I’ve run hundreds of miles in. It’s lightweight, it’s got protection, it’s got grip. I pretty much take it anywhere, even the Grand Canyon.
Mayra: I use all their stuff. Seriously, all of it. For marathons or road, I like to use the Clifton or the Carbon. But on the trails I use the Speedgoat or the Mafate, and sometimes the Torrent too. I love trying out all their shoes. The HOKA shorts have deep pockets for storage, too, and their sport bras are amazing and supportive. I truly am a fan of all their stuff.
Shop all the gear Jared and Mayra use to elevate their runs and maximize their distance at eastbay.com
A.J. Andrews is known for her dynamic flair on the field, and eye-catching fashion off of it. She is recognized as one of the most exciting softball players in the world and is the first woman to ever win a Rawlings Gold Glove award. Off the field, A.J. is a motivational speaker who promotes women and girls’ empowerment and works as a special guest at softball clinics around the nation.
A.J. also preaches that one of the most important skills to work on in softball is hand-eye coordination. And we got an inside look into one of her favorite drills that focuses on exactly that. Watch the video and follow the steps below to improve your hand-eye coordination and elevate your game.
Step-by-step Drill Instructions
Grab some tennis balls or softballs.
Get a friend, teammate, or parent to toss you the balls.
Start the drill in position like you would in the field of play.
Have the individual tossing the balls stand 5-10 yards away facing you.
To start the drill, have the individual toss one ball at a time in the air in different directions. For example: As soon as you catch one ball to your right, have the person throw another ball to your left.
Repeat the process back and forth from right to left.
Mix it up by having the individual throw the balls from front to back as well as side to side.
A.J.’s specialty is making spectacular plays on the field with ease. Check out the full list of products she uses to stay at the top of her game by clicking here or going to eastbay.com.