Softball Napanee players had a unique opportunity to learn from some of Canada’s best inside the gym at NDSS.
Napanee’s own Brendan Hagerman used his connections to bring national junior coach Jeff Ellsworth to town to help lead a hands on clinic for youths.
Hagerman worked with Ellsworth this summer when he was selected as Team Canada’s catcher for the WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship, held in Prince Albert, Sask.
“I figured the kids within the (Softball Napanee) organization would appreciate having such a good coach around teaching them new techniques and hopefully growing Softball Napanee,” said Hagerman. “A chance like this doesn’t happen too often, having guys like that come down.”
On the first day the clinic focused on hitting, while on the second they shifted to fielding drills.
For Ellsworth, a native of P.E.I. who is touring Ontario hosting clinics and promoting his Exit Speed hitting training technique, he says he was impressed with the turnout to the event.
“It just shows how passionate this community is for the sport of fastpitch softball,” said Ellsworth, who is also a member of the men’s national team and has represented Canada at the Olympics. Also assisting with the clinic was Nick Shailes, a member of Australia’s national fastpitch team.
The clinic was open to both boys and girls.
“When you do these clinics sometimes it’s all boys or all girls,” said Ellsworth. “We do have a nice mix. You got some that have played for a long time and some that are new. It’s nice to see that mixture.”
The young players will now have a chance to work on what they learned throughout the winter and could see it pay dividends when they return to the diamond next spring.
“Hats off to them for coming out and learning the skills,” said Ellsworth. “Hopefully they can be a little more confident and be more skillful next year.”
Cost for hosting the clinic and renting space in the NDSS gym was covered by a $2,500 donation from the Napanee Rod and Gun Club.
NRGC president Brian Calver said when the club was approached by Rick Normile to help cover some of the cost, every member of his club voted to cover the entire cost.
“Every hand in the room went up to support the whole event,” said Calver. “It worked out really good because this time of year, how do you fundraise for a baseball event when baseball’s pretty much over? We help out a lot of organizations throughout the community, this is the first time Softball Napanee approached us and we wanted to make sure that people in the community knew what the Rod and Gun Club was about. We’re not all just a bunch of evil hunters and evil fishermen. We actually do good for the community.”