Thompson teaches skills, builds community with baseball camp

Published 10:58 am Thursday, May 30, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

ALABASTER – Kids once again turned out in numbers for a chance to meet and learn from their favorite Thompson baseball players at the annual Thompson Youth Baseball Camp from May 28-30 at Thompson High School.

“It’s been fantastic that we have 100 campers again, kids from all over, all ages coming here and having a great time,” Thompson head baseball coach Frankie Perez said.

Campers rotated through multiple stations to learn key baseball skills, including fielding balls on defense, the basics of pitching taught by Warriors pitching coaches, proper form for hitting and base running tips.

In addition, the coaches implemented a plan to stagger 30-minute breaks to give kids a break from the sun with snacks and drinks. Another new addition this year was a trainer on site in case of any injuries, which, thankfully, none occurred over the first two days.

Perez was grateful that the kids felt like they had learned something from the camp, especially since the camp was only a few days long and baseball is a tough mental sport to learn.

“I’ve gotten great feedback from the campers and the parents of the campers saying that they have learned something that they can take away from this camp in just one or two days, which honestly, I think that’s a success,” Perez said. “If they can just acquire one little bit of knowledge that they can take to their summer ball, I think it’s definitely a success for us.

Another key aspect of the camp was the kids getting a chance to meet Thompson’s players and coaches throughout the week.

Players not only got to lead different stations around the camp, but they got to talk with the kids while teaching them the important skills that Perez’s coaching staff had imparted throughout the season.

Perez thought his players and coaches handled themselves well and led the campers in a positive way.

“I’m so proud of our coaches and our players,” Perez said. “They’ve been great mentors for these kids.”

Perez believes the camp is one of the most important things that they do simply because of how the players build bonds with the community.

Just like in previous years, the campers sought out their favorite players that they watched on the diamond throughout the spring and asked for them by name.

To Perez, that reinforced a message he’s harped on throughout the season: his players are leaders in the community whether they realize it or not.

“At the end of the day, the campers come here to see the kids,” Perez said. “I heard so many kids asking for our varsity players. ‘Hey, where’s Ethan Crook? And where’s Bub (Terrell) and Ma’Kale (Holden), and where’s all these players?’ and they were naming the players of our varsity program, which just tells me what I tell our players all the time, that they are role models, even if they want to be role models or not, they are role models.”

As a result of his players leading the camp along with the other ways they get out in the Alabaster area, Perez sees the excitement about the program among the campers.

Just like his current players looked forward to putting on the Warriors jersey after participating in the camp when they were younger, he believes the campers will be similarly excited to stick with baseball and eventually play for Thompson.

“It’s just amazing that our players are out there in the community, that these little kids remember the players’ names and they become role models, as you say,” Perez said. “That’s what I love about being a Warrior, that these little kids grow up wanting to be Warriors, so by the time they put that jersey on, they take pride.”