Cove baseball camp intended to put the fun in fundamentals
By TJ MAXWELL
Building the love for a sport is integral to the success of a program. If you don’t enjoy or have a passion for what you’re doing, your chances of success diminish.
Copperas Cove head baseball coach Dusty Brittain knows that first hand and focuses his annual baseball camps on growing that love for America’s National Pastime.
“That’s really what it’s all about,” said Brittain. “We really want them to have an appreciation for the game and we want it to be as fun as possible. We want them to leave here thinking that baseball camp is so fun and it’s more fun than the all of the other camps.
“If that relates to now I want to play next year, then they are only going to get better. We want to teach them fundamentals and we want them to learn things out here but the main thing is we want them to leave here loving baseball and the baseball camp.”
For the older campers, however, it’s not all fun and games. This is also an early introduction to the high school coaching staff and what they expect from their players.
“We treat our (junior high kids) like it’s practice,” said Brittain. “It’s basically a pre-high school practice for them. We’re going to do things exactly like we would at a high school practice and we’re going to talk about the standards we have at the high school.
“For my coaching staff, and myself this is an early look at them. I have guys in the program now that play at the junior varsity and varsity levels that have been at camp and I’ve seen them grow up in the game and get better. It can only help them understand what we’re looking for in the program.”
Having some successful college players like Michael Hays and Tim Bechtold at the camp also shows campers that all the tedious fundamentals will pay off in the long run.
“They love it,” Braiitain said of his former players that help at camp. “They love to come here and be a part of this. I’ve got guys like Michael and Tim that are still playing college ball. Those older guys, especially, understand that it is important to hit off of a tee and do the small fundamentals in the infield and outfield because that’s what they do at the college level as well. I think that’s important for them and those are good baseball players they’re going to be able to emulate as well.”
Brittain knows that you can teach fundamentals all day but you never really know if they have those fundamentals down unless you put them to the test and they do that through friendly competition.
“We try to do competition. Every day we do competition,” said Brittain. “Of course we’ll do our fundamentals of infield, outfield, throwing, catching and hitting but we feel if we can get them out here competing then they can better show us what they’ve learned in that aspect.”
Brittain also feels giving the kids a reason to feel good about themselves can only help them grow.
“The other part is we try to make it as a positive experience as possible,” he said. “At the end of every day, every coach is going to brag on a kid and give him a sticker. Even though it’s just a sticker, it’s a big thing for those kids to leave here thinking I did well today and coach thought I did well. We are trying to make them leave here with a positive experience.”
Brittain and his staff ends each camp with a Friday fun day where kids enjoy hot dogs and a break from the heat with fun in the sun on a Slip ‘n Slide.
“We added the slip and slide a couple years back,” said Brittain. “We’ll do that on Friday (today) and the kids love that. They get to eat the hot dogs and enjoy themselves as well.”
Although the numbers are holding steady and Brittain is pleased with the turnout, he would still like to see more children come out to the camps.
He knows a good portion of campers play recreation ball and learn some of the fundamentals there, he feels it’s important to their future success in the program to learn things the Bulldawg way.
“The kids speak for themselves,” he said. “I bet if you asked the kids if they were enjoying themselves I think the majority would say absolutely, especially on Friday when we’re playing in the water.
“It’s good for them to have fun and be with their peers but we’re going to teach them what we feel are the most important parts of the game. If they really want to be successful, they need to understand the important parts of the game.”