Every Sunday evening from January to March, young athletes aged 13 to 18 pour into the Shape gym of Castleton State College, lugging heavy, bulky bags of equipment behind them. They are ready to learn.
They have come from all over the neighboring towns to take part in Castleton’s Sunday Winter Baseball Program, which has been conducted by Ted Shipley, the head Spartan baseball coach, since the winter of 2001.
Along with Bob Godlewski, the assistant Spartan baseball coach, and Marc Lambert, the head coach of the high school varsity baseball team in Granville, N.Y., Shipley has set up a camp that encourages young athletes to work on the repetition of baseball fundamentals, to be confident, and to stay sharp during the long offseason.
The camp makes sure to cram in plenty of workstations, so that there is no shortage of tasks to focus on.
One half of the gym is set up for young hurlers to practice both their pin-point accuracy and expanding their arsenal of pitches, while the other half allows position players to work on the always elusive art of hitting as well as the grueling task of following oddly bouncing grounders into the mitt and running down tricky fly balls.
“The camp teaches them what they need to focus on to become better. Then, it’s really up to the young athletes to put in a little bit extra effort during the week,” Shipley said.
Evan Davis, a freshman at the University of Southern Maine who attended the camp for five years, thinks that the camp has helped him tremendously.
“The camp definitely made me a better player due to some of the input I received there,” he said.
Richard Coltey, a junior at Fair Haven Union High and a starting pitcher on the Slater baseball team, agreed with Davis.
“The winter camp is a great way to help to shake the rust off early and get on your game quicker in the spring,” he said.
In addition to the assistance of Godlewski and Lambert, Shipley requests that players on his Spartan baseball team help when they can.
“I try to have each person donate back some time to the community,” Shipley said. “A lot of the players look forward to doing it.”
When asked about the Sunday evening baseball camp and other camps at the college, President Dave Wolk said that he is proud of the community service that the sports teams provide because it gives the young athletes “a very positive exposure to the college.”
Wolk said he foresees the college sponsoring more camps and high school state championship events to further serve the community.
As for the future of the Sunday Winter Baseball Program, Shipley says that he and the coaching staff will sit down in March and, as always, evaluate the camp.
“Our objective is to continue to make it better and better,” he said.