NEW PORT RICHEY — After a long and challenging baseball season, Pasco-Hernando Community College coach Steve Winterling let go last week with the fun of a junior camp.
PHCC's annual summer baseball and softball camps challenged kids ages 6 to 13 to focus on fundamentals at a higher level than they normally experience. For Winterling, it was a nice change of pace after his team's 32-win season ended with a fourth place finish at the National Junior College Athletic Association's Division II regional tournament.
"It's always nice after working all year with the college kids to go to work with the younger kids," Winterling said. "We've had a really good group this year … some young ballplayers with good skills. They haven't complained about the heat and we've been able to avoid the rain, so we've had a productive camp this year and as always it's a lot of fun for us as coaches."
The camp covered everything from throwing accuracy to base running and plyometrics. Participants were surprised how little hitting was emphasized.
"We do a lot of things like plyometrics to teach them how to use those leg muscles," Winterling said. "We have everyone do infield drills, outfield drills and hit in the cages. The big thing we want to get through to them though is that hitting is really a secondary thing right now. At this stage, they need to be focused on their ability to catch the ball, their arm strength, throwing accuracy and running speed. Everyone always wants to hit, but those other things will get them to play at higher levels."
Some parents prefer to drop their kids off and pick them up later, but Tony and Lisa Adams of New Port Richey stayed at PHCC to watch their sons Ashton, 6, and Anthony, 9, work with college coaches and enjoy their time on the field.
"They live and breathe everything baseball so this is a really exciting week for them," Tony Adams said. "We just knew the coach's name and his reputation from living in the area so we had heard good things. The kids are learning a lot and most importantly, they're learning the right way to do things. For them, just being able to go out and be able to play baseball with these other kids is the best part of all of it, but they're learning a lot, too."
An outfielder's throw away, girls learned from PHCC softball coach Tom Ryan, a big believer in the power of camps.
"Camps are huge," Ryan said. "It gives them drills they can do on their own or that they can bring back to their team. It really gives them a good fundamental base and a lot of times their coaches come out and pick our brains. The more camps a kid can go to, the better off they'll be."
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More camp news: PHCC volleyball coach Kim Whitney is hosting two volleyball camps for girls.
The Individual Skills Camp will be from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Wednesday for girls ages 8 to 18 and will include training in each volleyball skill: passing, serving, hitting, setting, blocking and defense.
The Specialty Camp will be from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday for girls ages 12 to 18 and will include training in three separate positions: setting, hitting or defense.
The camps are $100 each or both for $175, which covers instruction and a T-shirt. The registration form is available online at phcc.edu/athletics/summer-sports-camps.
For more information, contact Whitney at email@example.com or (727) 816-3341.