SABR Negro Leagues Committee awards $1,000 scholarships in 2017 essay contest

SABR’s Negro Leagues Research Committee is pleased to award $1,000 scholarships to four high school seniors in its ninth annual Thomas R. Garrett Scholarship essay contest in 2017.

Jakez Smith, a graduate of South Central High School in Winterville, North Carolina, was awarded the Robert Peterson Scholarship. During high school, he participated in a dual enrollment program with Pitt Community College in Winterville, where he will earn his Associates in Arts degree this summer. In his leisure, Jakez participates in enrichment opportunities at colleges throughout the state, plays games with his siblings and friends, and volunteered for nearly 700 hours as a junior counselor with the City of Greenville. He is also a member of the National Society of High School Scholars, the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and the National Society of Leadership and the Success. Jakez’s career goal is to become a graphic designer or a simulation and game designer. He will attend William Peace University in Raleigh, North Carolina, for his Bachelor’s degree. He chose this school because of the small campus environment and the internship opportunities. 

Nijer Reaves, an honors graduate of Islands High School in Savannah, Georgia, was awarded the Jimmie Crutchfield Memorial Scholarship. A native of Livingston, New Jersey, she was a recipient of the Superintendent’s Award and she plans on attending Rutgers University at New Brunswick to major in microbiology. Her hobbies are reading, writing, dancing, and spending time with friends and family.

Sophia Dossin, a graduate from South Eugene High School in Oregon, was awarded the Andrew “Rube” Foster Scholarship. She earned a French Immersion International Baccalaureate diploma and AP Scholar status. When she’s not studying, she’s busy leading the business team of the South Eugene Robotics Team and helping write award-winning business plans. Sophia is also a competitive chess player with several state and national awards, and is the head coach of an all-girls chess team that she founded this year. In the community, Sophia is the school board representative for Eugene International High School (EIHS), served as student body president of EIHS, and has been an active member of the National Honor’s Society for two years. This fall, she will be joining the Washington University in St. Louis class of 2021, where she will be studying Business, Economics, and International Affairs.

Isabella Baynard, a graduate of Los Altos High School in California, was awarded the Normal “Tweed” Webb Scholarship. She plans to head to the epicenter of fashion this fall at the Parsons School of Design in New York to pursue her professional education and build her network. During her college years, she wants to refine her design style, continue her journey as a woman entrepreneur, and fine tune her leadership skills. She plans to become a trendsetter for global communities. She considers herself to be an artistic activist who uses design, technology, and spoken word to support humanitarian causes. In 2016, Isabella created her own business, Bella Bay Co., where she created custom t-shirts, patches, buttons, and iPhone cases. She has used these design and creativity skills to lead the fundraising efforts for the Solidarity for Haiti Club at her high school. As an aspiring fashion designer who is working hard to create her own fashion label, Isabella is dedicated to sharing her art and designs to support community groups, provide a platform for her generation’s voice, and to showcase how the world is interconnected.

The contest was open to high school seniors and carrying a minimum GPA of 2.5 at the end of their junior year. Students had to write a 1,200-word essay answering a question related to one of the Negro League figures who are the namesakes of the scholarships.

The students will be recognized at the SABR Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference on July 27-30, 2017, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The selection committee was comprised of educators Leslie Heaphy, AJ Taylor, Michelle Freeman, and Philip Ross.

The Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference is the only symposium dedicated exclusively to the examination of black baseball history. Learn more at

Originally published: May 31, 2017. Last Updated: April 22, 2020.