LOVES PARK, Ill. (WTVO) — Some local kids got to learn a little more about baseball on Saturday.
Rockford University student athletes put on a free clinic. From pitching to hitting and fielding, over 50 kids stepped onto the diamond to learn the fundamentals of the sport.
“We’re just trying to get the youth together to make sure, you know, they get as much knowledge of the game as possible,” said Jonathan Leon, baseball player at Rockford University.
Rockford Elite Baseball started as a class project, but has now become so much more. Leon said that it has turned into an opportunity to provide baseball knowledge and skills to local youth.
“I feel like that’s the best time to work with them…..and make sure they can take it as far as they can, whether it’s college or being a professional athlete,” Leon said.
Kids aged 6-14 took to the field at the Boys and Girls Club Complex in Loves Park, learning drills for pitching, hitting and fielding.
Cian Murphy and Mason Montelongo are on the same baseball team at the club, and they said that they were excited to learn more about fielding.
“My dad hits balls and I catch em,” they said.
Parents were equally excited for the kids to have this experience, learn some new tricks and develop their skills even further. All of this before the season even starts.
“Oh, this is wonderful. Especially, right, great that Rockford University provides. They’re great athletes to be able to come out and teach your kids the fundamentals of the game and engage with them was really cool, because they were seeing it from a collegiate level,” said parents Andrew Murphy and Ray Montelongo. “And, you know, several of them will strive to play college baseball, and they all have the dream for major league, so this is a start. That right gives them that goal. Yeah, it’s really great. These guys volunteer their time helping kids out.”
Leon hopes that kids not only learn new skills, but also develop a love of baseball through the clinic.
“I hope that they take as much knowledge as possible of the game, and seeing that they’re being taught by elite players in college…..it’s really awesome to see a smile on their face at the end of the day, to make sure you know that they’re taking something home with them,” he said.
Participants also got a free lunch, snacks and water. Organizers hope that they can hold more baseball clinics in the future.