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Barrow's youth have a ball at camps

POSTED: June 7, 2014 12:00 p.m.
Adam Wynn/Barrow County News

A couple of guys run in after scoring three outs in a scrimmage game at the Apalachee baseball camp Thursday afternoon.

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School is out for the summer and desperate parents, just a month in, are already at a loss for what to do with their children. Fortunately, many of the county’s coaches have done their best to answer that question for at least one week.

Four separate sports camps for kids dominated Barrow County for the majority of last week, with aspiring athletes having opportunities to hone their skills and play with friends in baseball, basketball, football or softball.

Monday through Thursday, more than 30 young ladies had a chance to learn the fundamentals of softball from Winder-Barrow’s Monty McClure and former Apalachee softball coach Mike Cavey out at the Lady Doggs’ home turf, Spratlin Field.

“It was a fundamentals camp, so we worked on things like hitting and pitching,” Monty McClure, Winder-Barrow softball’s head coach said.

Participants in the combined Apalachee and Winder-Barrow camp could expect to work on anything from hitting to pitching and fielding. While that left a lot of ground to cover in a relatively short time, McClure noted that many of the girls made some great progress as the week went on.

“I think watching the girls’ progression throughout the week as far as hitting technique was really good,” McClure added. “Certainly the girls really bought in to what we are trying to teach them, and I was actually really surprised to see them make that adjustment in just four days.”

While the young women were practicing softball with Cavey and McClure, Coach Kevin Morris with was running a similar youth camp across town for Apalachee basketball. More than 40 kids came out to Apalachee to work on their basketball skills and spend some time with the stars of Wildcat basketball.

“They all just improved on all their individual stuff. We did the shooting and the layups. They all worked hard and…one thing we really wanted to talk about was being unselfish and setting up the next guy and playing as a team,” Apalachee head men’s basketball coach Kevin Morris said. 

“I think they all had a good time.”

Morris had many of his current varsity basketball players help out with the camp as a way for them to give back to the community and spend time with some of their biggest fans, and that was a source of great joy for him. 

“The funny part is when our guys tell the little kids to do something and they don’t, and to watch our guys get frustrated for not listening to them,” Morris laughed. “That’s the funny part, because I look at them and say, ‘Now do you understand what I deal with?’”

Through it all, though, giving the Wildcats a chance to invest in the future is a gratifying experience that Morris cherishes being a part of.

“It’s a fun thing for me watching and them not get it and them get to be in my shoes every now and then,” Morris added, reaffirming how great an experience it is for his varsity players to work with the kids.

Kids taking part in the morning basketball session also had a chance to move on in the afternoons and partake in the Apalachee baseball camp from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the baseball fields. While not all kids took that option, many did and were pleased to spend some valuable time out on the diamond building up their skills in hitting, pitching, fielding and becoming a team.

Across town, Heath Webb at Winder-Barrow worked with more than 40 young football players at Winder-Barrow’s Future Bulldogg football camp. The campers, ranging in ages from rising second grade to rising eighth grade, all worked through three cycles of offense, defense and special teams each of the three days.

“We had 42 kids, which is a great turnout for year one,” Winder-Barrow head varsity football coach Heath Webb said. “We were real happy with that.

The kids got an especially good look at the new offensive coordinator for Winder-Barrow, Naji Lyon, as he was the camp director for the Future Bulldogg camp. Lyon has worked with Webb before at North Paulding and Flowery Branch and was a big part in running the camp.

“He is so good with the little guys and we are really blessed to have him,” Webb noted. “He did an awesome job of organizing and running the show there.

“We had the camp set up in three different circuits…with a break in between each one of them. Every kid would go through every offensive position then go through every defensive position then go through every special teams position, so it was great exposure at a bunch of different levels,” Webb noted. “Really, we made sure that we ran the camp in the stadium so that they had a chance to play on the grass that they will eventually play on when they get in high school.”

For one young man in particular, the opportunity to work on special teams three days of the week created a cool moment.

“There was a moment after the special teams circuit, to see a kid make a field goal at the end of day three after battling with it all week and getting so close and hitting the cross bar and just seeing him get frustrated, but then on day three and at the very end of day three make a field goal, just to see the smile on his face and the way he responded was really cool,” Webb beamed.

Similar to the other camps last week, Webb’s varsity football players spent their days Monday through Wednesday working with the kids and teaching them the important concepts behind football, leading Webb to echo comments made by other coaches about how important it is for student-athletes to give back to the community.

“The biggest thing for me was how the high school guys interacted with the youth players and how our high schoolers were so willing to give back and how patient they were and willing they were to work with those kids,” Webb reiterated. “That was just encouraging from a community standpoint seeing our guys be willing to give back and do a great job doing it.”

As Webb has said all year, Winder-Barrow football exists to build a community atmosphere between the football program and the citizens of Winder and greater Barrow County. Last week’s camp was just one more way for Webb to instill in his future team and in his community just how important that idea is.

“We had parents come up to us thanking us for the job that we were doing and the ways that we were reaching out into the community, and this is obviously just one of them,” Webb stated. “To let those players and those parents know that they are a part of us and they are a part of what we’re doing, and that they’re also a part of the reason why this thing is going to be special, it’s just a great way to connect.”

While Webb was directly responsible for Winder-Barrow’s football camp, he was quick to point out that any such extracurricular opportunity is a great way for students to get involved, and getting involved is the key.

“The biggest thing is to make sure that the kids learn early so that they get involved with something. Everybody knows this, it’s not really earth shattering, but if kids are involved, they’ve got a better chance of being successful academically,” Webb pointed out. 

“If there’s something we can do to help them fall in love with any kind of extracurricular, then it’s just going to benefit those kids socially and academically as well.”

While this past week featured the highest concentration of camps throughout the summer, there are still more to come. In fact, the Winder-Barrow Hoop Doggs will host their own Future Bulldogg Camp this coming week from Monday through Thursday.



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