FORT MILL TOWNSHIP --
Class was in session for 65 amateur baseball players at the Charlotte Knights’ annual Rookie Camp, and their teachers were 10 players from the Knights’ roster.
The camp took place at the Charlotte Knights’ Stadium, aka The Castle, in Fort Mill. Children ages 6-13 participated in the camp and learned the fundamentals of the sport.
“The goal of this camp is basically to teach the kids the fundamentals of baseball and to get them outside and exercising. And, of course, to get them to love the game of baseball,” said Lindsey Roycraft, director of community and team relations for the Knights, the Triple-A farm team of the Chicago White Sox.
The kids were broken up into groups depending on age and skill level. From there, participants rotated between stations to learn different skills. On the Knights’ field, there was a station for pitching, a station for fielding where the kids practiced catching ground balls, a station in the outfield where participants practiced catching pop flies and a station to practice bunting. Campers were also taken down into the Knights’ clubhouse where they practiced hitting in the team’s batting cages and had snacks in the Knights’ dugout.
At each station, a player from the Knights’ roster was there to coach. Ten Knights participated in the event: Pedro Hernandez, Josh Phegley, Jim Gallagher, Jared Mitchell, Drew Garcia, Damaso Espino, Brandon Kloess, Anthony Carter, Hector Gimenez and Shane Lindsay.
“I’m enjoying it,” said Garcia, who worked with the campers on infield work. “I like meeting the kids. I remember being in their shoes, being their age, and doing this same thing. It brings me back to when I was in their place, looking up at this big stadium. So it’s cool to be able to watch them.”
Participants were also able to watch actual game footage with Knights batting coach Andy Tomberlin. Tomberlin showed the kids the same video clips he shows the players in order to critique them. In addition, he says it shows how, even at the minor league level, players are going to make mistakes.
“We showed them the videos of what we show the players. Playing back these videos is a way to critique and better ourselves,” said Tomberlin.
“We are trying to show the kids that no matter what level we are playing at, we will make mistakes, it’s inevitable, you just keep going. Watching the videos we use to critique and better ourselves with helps show that,” Tomberlin said.
On July 27, the last day of the camp, the campers were given tickets to attend the Knights game vs. the Scranton Yankees, where they could watch the players who coached them.
The Knights lost the game 4-6.