Pelham reboots summer baseball camp under new coach Guy Howard

Published 9:35 am Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

PELHAM – Guy Howard may just be a few weeks into his tenure as Pelham’s head baseball coach, but he and his coaching staff are already impacting the community with the Pelham Baseball Camp, which was held from June 10-12 at Bobby Hayes Stadium.

Howard said the camp was running well and he was impressed with the 35 campers who turned out on short notice.

“It was definitely late, so I feel like these numbers are pretty good and the numbers will be a little bit higher in the future when we have more time and can promote it a little bit better,” Howard said. “So, it’s going good.”

Pelham typically held a successful winter baseball camp under former coach Sean Anderson, who retired in May after over two decades with the program. However, this is the first time in multiple years that Pelham has held an additional summer camp.

While there were a lot of moving parts and logistics that had to be figured out in a short amount of time, Howard was determined to make it work so he could continue to meet the Pelham community.

“It was really important,” Howard said. “I kind of went back and forth because the summer is so busy for so many people and you’ve got to coordinate. Can your coaches be there to work? Do you have enough kids that can be there to work? And then me, I coach travel ball in the summer too, so I’m trying to line it up to make sure I’m not interfering with any of that and all that kind of stuff.

“So, it’s hard to do, but at the same time, it was very important for me to do this just to meet people in the community, meet people who are going to one day come out and play for us.”

Kids from kindergarten to eighth grade got to learn baseball skills from Howard’s assistant coaches and a handful of varsity players fresh off the 2024 season with the Panthers.

The first day of the camp saw the kids learn various offensive skills like base-running and swinging the bat.

The assistant coaches videoed the campers’ swings and then took the kids into the Pelham locker room to show their swings on the big screen and offer tips and compliments.

Then, on Tuesday, it was time for defensive skills like catching, situational throwing and pitching as the coaches separated infielders, outfielders and catchers to work on specific fundamentals.

The final day of camp on Wednesday was primed for even more skills and games with a giant waterslide and popsicles to cap off the week.

While the coaches ensured each kid had a great time at the camp, it was also a chance for Howard to see the older middle schoolers for the first time and start to see their skills on display.

Howard pointed to a situation last year at his former school where a seventh grader’s great work at camp made up for an off-day at tryouts while switching from basketball shape to baseball fitness. That camper made the middle school team and played a key role this spring.

He said that without the camp, he would’ve likely cut the player. He hopes that camps like this allow him to get a more complete picture of what each player participating can do.

“With the middle school kids that are there, I get to go ahead and get an idea about what kids can do, and when they come and try out here in the next few months for the middle school team, I’ve got an idea already what they can do,” Howard said.

Pelham players helped run each stations and lead the age groups through stations, keeping kids on task while maintaining a low camper-to-coach ratio.

All throughout the week, the kids were guided by the Pelham players leading the camp. The smaller size allowed Howard to keep a low camper-to-coach ratio and ensure that the campers could get personal instruction and stay under control.

Howard only just recently met most of his varsity players, so he is proud of how they immediately bought in and signed up to give up part of their summer to work a camp with a coach they barely know.

“I’m really proud of them especially since I just met these guys really last week and I’ve asked them to come out here and work this camp for three or four hours a day,” Howard said. “They’ve done a really good job, so I’m proud of that.”