On a perfect baseball weather day, Red Deer Minor Baseball held their Day with the Braves Baseball Camp – which brings in Central Alberta baseball players to Great Chief Park to learn the game from the Midget Carstar ‘AAA’ Braves.
“Today is our annual Day with the Braves Baseball Camp,” said Coach Dwayne Lalor. “Our Midget ‘AAA’ players run it every year for players who are in our house league as well as our beginning age groups; so pre-rookie, rookie, mosquito, pee wee and we have a couple bantam players here. It is a fun day for our ‘AAA’ players. They get to work with the youngsters and the young players really enjoy being out with the team.”
According to Lalor, the AAA’s learn just as much from the camp as the younger players in attendance.
“The learning goes both ways because our players have to teach a skill,” he said. “It helps them understand it better. For the young guys, we try to give them every facet of baseball in about 30 minute time blocks. We give them lunch in the middle and then we play a game at the end of the day. We try to keep it all exciting and fun for them.”
‘AAA’ Braves Team Manager Dena Arnold confirmed the players get a lot out of the camp.
“My son was very excited to be able to pass along what he has learned so I think the older ones get just as much out of it as the younger ones do,” she said.
The purpose of the camp is to continue to the upward trend of minor baseball in Red Deer, according to Lalor.
“Our hope is that baseball will continue to grow and the kids here will keep playing,” he said, adding the ‘AAA’ players can be a model of commitment to the younger players.
“That is a big thing. Our players are out here in full uniform, so the younger kids get to see what the oldest group in minor baseball looks like,” he said. “It is a fun time. Each year we pick a date that works in our schedule, find a diamond and run the camp. It is a fundraiser for us, but it is more of a learning day and a give-back day to Red Deer Minor ball.”
Arnold added the younger players, “Really look up to them and they admire the commitment the older players have made to the game.”
Lalor explained that being able to host this camp is also a way for his players to have a bit of a relaxation day, during their competitive season.
“We usually play three game days a week and two practice days, so Sunday would normally be a game day for us,” he said. “It happened to be a day off this time around so being able to still play in this environment is relaxing. It tends to be good for us. The kids really like it. We were able to get this one fairly early in the ball season, so a lot of these kids still have a month left to go in the season. It is good for them.”
Feedback for the day has been consistent throughout everyone involved with Red Deer Minor Baseball.
“The parents like it, because their kids go home and have met someone who plays for the Midget ‘AAA’,” Lalor said. “For our kids, it helps with leadership and growth in shows up in our games right away. It is great day for everyone involved – especially when we get weather like this.”
He added, “Red Deer Minor Ball continues to grow and for the players and coaches in it – it is an exciting time. Whether we win a provincial championship, or just compete as hard as we can – this is one of the vehicles we have to make it work.”