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Zachary Camel Jr. Wins Spot on the University of Montana Basketball Team

Zachary Camel recently made a giant leap for Native Americans in basketball. After two seasons at Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, Montana, the 20-year-old Flathead Tribal member earned a roster spot on the University of Montana team this fall. After a competitive tryout where he received encouragement from his father and college coach, Zack Camel Sr., Camel Jr. will join the number one team in the Big Sky Conference.

In an interview with Indian Country Today Media Network, Zachary Camel Jr. shared that he believes that his story challenges the belief that Tribal colleges cannot lead to bigger opportunities, a perception that he sees in many Native peers. He believes that Tribal colleges can be an advantage for youth, especially for basketball players like him.

In the same article, his father and long-time basketball coach shared: “It’s a big deal for us because it shows a lot of these Indian kids there’s an opportunity: If you put in a lot of work and do the right stuff in school there’s a chance.”

Camel Jr. has not had an opportunity to play yet this season, but is traveling to most games and practicing full-time. He took advantage of his opportunity and hopes to one day show the University of Montana and other college programs that being optimistic about potential transfers from Tribal colleges can pay off. His advice to younger athletes is to “just never give up and keep pushing. That’s all I did.”