Runs, hits, errors and plenty of ice water are parts of life this week at Fox Creek High School, as the school holds its annual baseball camp, reaching out to players of elementary- and middle-school age.
Sessions are being held from 8 a.m. to noon, and 35-40 players are on board for the 2019 session, from ages 7 to 13.
Kevin Lynn, the Predators' head coach, said the idea is to help kids "learn how to play the game – not just one part of the game," and that means exposing all the campers to a variety of challenges.
"Keeping their attention" may be the hardest part of the deal, in Lynn's assessment. "They love to compete, so we try to take advantage of that."
Lynn's supporting cast includes a mixture of adults and teens: Ryan Gregory, Aaron Gregory, Hunter Steger, Cam Mitchem, Kevin Barnes, Kenny Miller and Jowan Gray. Some can speak from experience at the state's highest level, as Lynn's 2017 team won the state championship.
The camp is familiar territory for some of the kids, including Luke Waldhauer, 11, who is back for his third year and picking up a variety of tips dealing with such concerns as base-running ("all about angles") and batting ("keep your eye on the ball").
"I love pitching. Pitching's my favorite," he said, while preparing for an afternoon session of baseball with his team, the River Dogs.
He also shared his approach to life on the mound, which includes keeping focused on the catcher's glove, he said. "I just try to keep calm, and not let any of the surrounding sounds distract me. I like it when it's loud. "
Mitchem, a 2019 graduate now preparing to play at Spartanburg Methodist College, shared his core message for the campers. "No matter how tough it gets during the game, there's always a way ... to get your love for the game. You've got to keep pushing through it."
Mitchem, who serves mainly at first and third base, confirmed that keeping campers' attention can be challenging. "Some of the younger ones, they're a little lost in space, but once you get them one on one, they're more focused and it's easier to teach them that way."