At the end of a long day of baseball drills, groups of kids chanted their colors. While they had spent the last four hours fielding ground balls and running through bases, the chants displayed the most important skill that their coaches wanted to teach: being a team player.
“Be the best teammate on your team,” Kansas baseball coach Ritch Price told his group.
Fundamentals, competitiveness and good sportsmanship highlighted the Powerade youth clinic at the Creighton Sports Complex on Saturday.
College coaches and players from schools such as Grambling State, the University of Nebraska at Kearney and Creighton guided 240 kids, grades three to eight, through drills designed to help their skills in every facet of the game — hitting, fielding and throwing.
Former Grambling State coach Wilbert Ellis helped establish the clinic in Omaha. He led the Tigers to a 737-463-1 record in his 26 years as coach.
Doug Leinen has brought his two kids to the camp the past three years. It’s the quality coaching that makes the clinic a yearly destination before the College World Series.
“They learn from other people more than they do their parents,” he said as he laughed. He coaches his son’s youth-league team in Omaha.
His daughter, Addie, came into the camp knowing what she wanted to learn.
“I like to pitch,” she said. “I want to play as long as I can.”
Creating lifetime baseball and softball lovers like Addie is an important part of the clinic for Victor Hill, who helps organize the event with the NCAA. With every camp, he hopes to give newcomers the access to experienced coaches in a fun atmosphere to get them in involved in sports.
“We want to expose as many kids as we can to the game,” he said. “It’s a proven commodity that kids learn character building and they learn how to participate in team-oriented sports.
“Best-case scenario, being exposed to some of these collegiate athletes and coaches, they are inspired to at least go to college.”
Leinen hopes that the program continues to build and plans on his kids taking part as long as they can.
“It psyches them up,” Leinen said. “They come to this clinic, and they look forward to it next year.”
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