‘Impactful moments’ highlight baseball camp

Photos by Traci Westcott/The Herald
Cooper Kramer, 9, of Jasper, bats while Dubois County Bombers coach Ethan Collins throws the ball during the Bombers baseball camp at the Jasper Youth Sports Complex on Wednesday.


JASPER — It’s a tradition born into the foundation of summer. When the sun is shining, that signals the perfect conditions to break out the bat and gloves to take part in the storied sport of baseball, as kids the world over give their best impressions of players like Aaron Judge, Mike Trout or Max Scherzer. However, all those young up-and-comers need proper guidance to hone their skills, and fortunately, the (semi) local ball club has their back.

Wednesday marked the continuation of the Dubois County Bombers’ youth baseball camp at the Jasper Youth Sports Complex, and everyone involved couldn’t have been happier to take advantage of the weather and train the next generation on the diamond.

See a gallery of camp photos here

But baseball instruction isn’t the only thing the camp offers. For many of the kids, it’s a chance to work out and play on the field with college-level ball players, a memory that will stay with them long after they go home for the day.

“It’s always nice when you can get these college kids out here to interact with the younger kids,” said Bombers coach Travis LaMar, who has been helping out with the camp for the past three years. “They really look up to them, and it becomes one of those impactful moments that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. We have a good group of campers that have come back multiple years, and I think it just comes from experience of getting to hang out with the college players a little bit. The last couple of days have been great.”

Wednesday’s camp session focused on batting practice, base running and a bit of fielding, as the camp participants built on the first day’s lessons, which focused on pitching.

The camp drew about 50 kids who were split up into two groups, with the younger group doing its rounds first, followed by the older kids in the later portion of the morning. The Bombers players were excited to lend their time to developing the crop of children, and seemed to be pleasantly surprised with the talent on display.

“We got a lot of speed and a lot of power out of this group today,” said Austin Duffy, Bombers shortstop/third baseman. “All of these kids are pretty fast.”

Chase Lichlyter, left, Grant Levin, and Camden Eyler, all 6 and of Jasper, wait to hear the call from Dubois County Bombers player Austin Duffy during the Bombers baseball camp at the Jasper Youth Sports Complex on Wednesday.

“You could see from some of the kids’ mechanisms, like their swing or their demeanor. Sometimes you can just tell when a kid has it,” Bombers infielder Easton Stewart added. “I saw some promising things from all the ages that were out. You could tell they had really good potential.”

The Bombers players also saw the camp as a service to the game of baseball and to the players who will come after them. Most of the guys went through similar camps when they were growing up, and they remember how valuable it was for someone to take the time and teach them how to be better ball players.

For the Bombers players, the three days of camp are not a chore, but more of a way to give back to the game and pay forward the teaching they received in their younger years.

“I remember my dad doing this stuff with me when I was a kid, so it’s kind of cool to be back out here and bring back the memories,” Bombers catcher Britton Graham said. “Anything that I’ve learned I should be able to give back to the people that are growing up.”

“I think it’s cool just cause they get to have fun,” Duffy added. “They’re not really worried to impress anybody. They’re just out here doing a thing they want to do, and they’re having fun. Hopefully, when they grow up, they’ll do the same thing for their kids.”

Today’s third day of the camp will focus on defense, but that’s not the end of the Bombers’ teaching outings for the summer. The team will host another camp at League Stadium in July, and the Bombers are hoping more kids will come out to play and get better in all areas of baseball.

LaMar said he has had to turn players away who were ready and willing to give of their time and knowledge to the young players, so there’s no shortage of goodwill among the Bombers when it comes to laying the foundations for the next generation of ball players.

“I think that’s just a testament to their character and how they were raised,” LaMar said. “That really excites me, and it’s a tribute to the men they are.”

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