COOLIDGE — Leading up to the start of the Coolidge Youth Little League Season, Arizona Public Service hosted a clinic for players coached by a few special guests.
On Wednesday, APS hosted the All-Star Clinic in tandem with CYLL at Kenilworth Sports Complex. The clinic provided little leaguers with an opportunity to learn from some of the best players in the sport— a group of former Major League Baseball players.
Beginning at 4 p.m. and lasting into the evening hours, young ball players practiced their pitches and batting with four former MLB players. They also had the chance to play a pickup game, enjoy pizza, a question and answer session with the players and get autographs.
The clinic was lead by former players Lou Klimchock, Ron Davis, John Moses and Ken Phelps. Approximately 40 CYLL members participated in the clinic.
CYLL Board President Derek Morrow said the program provided kids enrolled in little league with a unique opportunity to hone their skills.
“I thought it was a great idea to get it into our community and get some kids to practice things that maybe coaches here don’t know the fundamentals of as much,” he said.
Phelps has been hosting the clinics in partnership with APS for more than 20 years.
“We go into communities where we provide power as a company, and we give free baseball clinics to not only youth, but also young women and softball players,” he said.
The clinics, he noted, are all about encouraging children and teens to get involved in team sports. In addition, the program also stresses the importance of doing well in school, with all the players encouraging students to work hard on and off the field.
The clinic is one of about 15 the power company will hosts over the course of the year around Arizona.
Phelps noted that the clinic also helps little league participants see the parallels between sports like baseball and life in general.
“It’s a game that you have a lot of failure with, and you have to be able to understand that life has some ups and downs too,” he said. “It’s a good life lesson.”
As the CYLL gears up for the season, Morrow hopes that clinic participants will walk away with a desire to learn and grow, and that the program will excite other children about Little League.
Last year, CYLL faced a number of challenges due to a lack of volunteers, he noted. This year the total number of players enrolled in the program was also down. Activities like the All-Star Clinic, he said, could help draw some much needed attention to the program.
“If we can expand Little League in Coolidge we can do more stuff like this,” he said. “I hope people see that as a league and a board we can’t make everybody happy, but we are trying our hardest to grow this.”