7 August 2007

Clinics offer rare experiences

Photo by Matt Rice

By Matt Rice
GateHouse News Service

Harwich - Each summer, a new brew of ballplayers enters the confines of Whitehouse Field in Harwich.

    Most of them are talented college players that attract crowds of people each night to watch them show off their talents. But each morning, a crew of players a little shorter and with far less birthdays under their belt, show up to test their skills. 

    These players are part of the Harwich Mariners week-long kids clinic.

    With different sessions depending on age, these future ball players gather in groups on the outfield grass for an hour-and-a-half each morning to learn from the Mariner players themselves.

    After a brief warm up and skills session where the kids learn the most basic fundamentals such as catching pop-ups, fielding grounders and learning the basic rules of the game, the groups are broken up in to teams to play a mini game.

    “This is a great way for the Mariners to give back to the community, but more importantly this gives the kids a chance to interact with the players that they see playing every single night,” said Mariners assistant coach Marc Thibeault. “For these little boys and girls, they get a chance to play with players that in a few years could be in the Major Leagues.”

    Coach Marc, as known by the kids, added that many of the players are education majors at school so the clinics act as a sort of internship for them.

    “It also helps the players with their fundamentals. Doing these basic drills over and over again, not matter how long you’ve been playing, really reinforces the fundamentals,” said Coach Marc.

    At $70 per week-long session, the clinics offer parents a relatively inexpensive way for their kids to develop life-long relationships with some of the players, along with learning the basics of the game for some of the best college players in the country.

    “Occasionally I’ll have someone come up to me at a game and tell me they attended a clinic years ago but still keep in contact with a player they met during it. The best part is being able to give back to the community that comes out every night to support us.”

    Although the clinics are getting ready to complete their final week of the summer, next June a whole new crop of players form all ages will again decend of Whitehouse Field.