Monday, 24 June 2019 01:52

Youngsters learn more than on-field skills at 3rd annual All-S.T.A.R. Academy baseball and softball camp

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Anthony Hailey (right) tosses a ball to Noah Trexler during Saturday's All-S.T.A.R. Academy baseball and softball camp. Anthony Hailey (right) tosses a ball to Noah Trexler during Saturday's All-S.T.A.R. Academy baseball and softball camp. Kyle Pillar — The Richmond Observer.

ROCKINGHAM — The third annual All-S.T.A.R. Academy baseball and softball camp, which was held at Rockingham Middle School on Saturday, was much more than just a one-day skills clinic.

Anthony Hailey, the owner of the after-school enrichment program, didn’t just want his 28 campers to improve their skill sets, but also learn how to be better young individuals. And he noted that all of them accomplished that goal before the camp’s completion.

“I think this year’s camp turned out really good,” Hailey, a former Richmond Senior High School pitcher, said. “There were a lot of returners from the past two years and many of them brought new friends with them. Everyone seemed to enjoy it.

“At the beginning, I told them what the ‘S.T.A.R.’ meant, and they demonstrated those qualities on the field,” he continued. “As I was going around to each group, I asked what it stood for and they could tell me. That showed they were receiving the message I was sharing with them.”

Held throughout the school year to help students achieve academic success while also fine-tuning their athletic skills, the All-S.T.A.R. Academy has been successful under Hailey’s instruction. The S.T.A.R. stands for “sportsmanship, training, academics and respect.”

A mixture of elementary aged and middle school aged players were in attendance and worked on an assortment of drills during the four-hour clinic. Joining Hailey in helping instruct players were his brother, Jonathan Hailey, and former fraternity brother Michael McRae, among others. Hailey’s fiance, Tankyieka Gale, also helped with running the camp.

Also helping this year were three Richmond student-athletes, two of whom played at Hamlet Middle School, which is where Hailey helps coach baseball. They were rising senior pitcher Luke Preslar and rising junior shortstop Hunter Hancock, and rising sophomore softball outfielder Allyiah Swiney also volunteered her time.

Battling the heat, this year’s campers worked on a variety of baseball and softball fundamentals. With stations set up all over the infield and outfield, complete with cones and an assortment of tools, campers rotated and worked on speed and agility drills, throwing and catching drills, footwork and relay drills, and worked on hitting and running the bases.

At one point, Hailey was working on soft toss with the youngest age group, while Hancock rolled ground balls at third base. Swiney helped youngsters work on their hand-eye coordination during agility drills, and Preslar introduced glove-side turns to outfielders.

RSHS baseball player Hunter Hancock (green) works on paddle drills with campers at third base.

To cap the day, a couple of scrimmages were played and campers cooled down with a slip-and-slide.

“I really get the most out of the smiles on the kids’ faces and seeing what they learned in camp and implementing it in their games with Parks and Rec or middle school,” Hailey explained. “It’s always good to see the tools being put to use.

“It’s also rewarding to have (the campers) come up and speak to me at games or in public,” he continued. “I like hearing about how much they enjoyed my camp and telling me how they remember learning this or that.”

The after-school program, which meets weekly during the school year, incorporates on-the-field activities for the last half hour each week. Hailey noted that many of the campers at Saturday’s event were regulars at the All-S.T.A.R. Academy, and explained it’s good to see the word getting out and the program growing.

Hailey brought a lot of baseball knowledge and experience to his campers, as the former Raider played college ball at Rockingham Community College before finishing his career at Elizabeth City State University. He also plays in the Carolina Adult Baseball League as a member of the Bennettsville (S.C.) Athletics.

Noting the day as an “overall success” Hailey said he had parents already asking when the next camp will be. Right now, he’s sticking with a once-a-year summer clinic, but has thought about looking at a “two-day camp down the line.”

Hailey added he’s talked to Hamlet Parks and Recreation director Maurice McLaurin about doing a spring training camp ahead of next year’s season.

“I thought the whole day went really well,” Gale shared. “We had some new sponsors who donated some really good handouts for the kids. Everyone enjoyed the food from Fatz and the candy apples and Twisted Treats ice cream. All the kids were respectful and it was a collective effort.”

Hailey closed by wanting to thank all of his sponsors, which were: Rockingham Middle School, Hairston Design & Print, Superior Cranes, Inc., Gamma Epsilon Sigma, Zip Transportation, One Stop Vape Shop, Fit Period, Fatz Cafe, Hooks BBQ & Buffet, Gingerbread Daycare, Family Video, Pizza Inn, GameStop, Sports Club Continental II, Jonesin 4 Apples, Twisted Treats, Whitley’s Construction and Freedom Fitness.

“I’m really looking forward to making the camp bigger and better for years to come,” Hailey concluded.

A full photo gallery from the camp can be found on the Richmond Observer's Facebook page.

Kyle Pillar

Sports Editor. IUP communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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