The Red Deer Riggers have been a mainstay in the senior baseball circuit for years as the team always manages to get together a strong group to challenge for the provincial and national titles.
This past week the Riggers players were out brushing up on their coaching skills which may pay dividends many years down the road by hosting the second annual ‘Day with the Riggers’ down at Great Chief Park.
The one-day camp allowed dozens of young local ball players to get some advice about the game and to take advantage of some first rate coaching courtesy of the Riggers, covering the basics; running, throwing, catching, fielding and hitting.
“The biggest thing in baseball as they get older is throwing because every aspect of the game is throwing and learning that skill is the most fundamental of all of them,” said Riggers Coach Curtis Bailey, a 19-year veteran with the senior baseball squad.
The players at the session ranged in age from eight to 17 and Bailey says they split them into two camps based on their age, sending them to different stations around the field for some instruction. Some players came into the camp already armed with very good skills and Bailey says that is a testament to the minor baseball program in Red Deer.
“There’s some real great coaches in the community that have worked with a lot of these kids already and they have a good foundation for all these skills and we’ll just hopefully add to them,” he said.
The camp was something which had been done in years past but it has been quite a few years in-between appearances and last year the current crop of Riggers decided to resurrect it and give back to the community, said Bailey.
The camp is supported in part through the far-reaching Sutter Fund and Bailey says it’s a helping hand that is most welcome.
“They get involved in all the minor sports and to have that involvement in the summer time is wonderful for us.”
Bailey said asking the players to give up some of their time in order to handle the tutoring on the field was a very easy sell and he was pleased with the effort put into each session.
“They were all excited about doing this. They’ve been talking about it for years and it was just a matter of getting in touch with the right people,” he said.
Apart from the basic skills being taught on the field the Riggers were also indirectly teaching these young players something which can carry them through on and off the field of play.
“Before the season starts we talk with the team and say this is how we’re expected to behave and act and play and be classy about it and be professional,” Bailey said. “We know that there’s young kids in the crowd that are watching and we can be an influence on them and if we can be a positive influence, even better.”
He hopes this will become an annual event but there has to be some involvement in order to keep it going.
“I think the partnership we’ve created with the Sutter Fund has been beneficial to us both and to the community,” said Bailey. “As long as the kids are willing to come out, if the interest is there I think we’ll maintain meeting that demand.”