By Tom MurphyLast weekend in La Jolla was spectacular – the weather, the water and especially the Cliffridge Park fields where La Jolla Youth Baseball is getting started. There was an enthusiastic return to baseball for players and parents, and the most often thing heard was “these fields look amazing!” followed by “It’s great to be back up here!”
Assessments were held on Jan. 28-29 for Pinto, Mustang, Bronco and Pony divisions, and 37 managers spent many hours observing and individually scoring nearly 400 players from ages 7-14 in preparation of Draft Week. One of the reasons why recreational baseball is successful in La Jolla is because of the effort put into forming fair and balanced teams. Each player receives a composite score from each manager in their division, and the ensuing draft is conducted by the League President and a LJYB Board observer, all for the purpose of keeping parity in the league and making the season fun and competitive for the next four months.
The camaraderie among the managers is refreshing and indicative of the nature of the coaches that volunteer in this league. In fact, nearly 50 coaches and volunteers completed the Positive Coaching Alliance workshop on Jan. 24, with each receiving a PCA certificate from Jim Perry, the instructor invited by LJYB to present the “Double Goal Coach: Coaching for Winning and Life Lessons” course. LJYB will offer this program during the 2012 season for any parent volunteer who would like to take the course online and receive PCA certification upon completion. Additional information on the PCA program is available through their team manager, League President or the league website
One of the most important objectives of LJYB is player development — both on and off the field. This weekend kicked off the popular “Sunday Sandlot Sessions.” These are age and league-specific clinics designed to educate and improve player skills in a variety of core baseball skills including hitting, fielding, base running, pitching and for some of the older players, strength conditioning. LJYB develops a curriculum for each league and conducts weekly 90-120 minute sessions that are led by outside experts along with some league instructors with impressive baseball credentials. It is one thing to be an ex-college jock and quite another to understand how to deliver an important message about hip rotation and swing velocity to a 9-year old boy facing live pitching for the first time. Fortunately Rick Macdonald, the LJYB board member who leads player development, is one of those amazing instructors who knows how to connect with these players and gives them the confidence to stay in the batters box on an inside fastball. Until Opening Day on March 3, players in every division will have a number of opportunities every Sunday to hone their baseball skills at a “Sandlot Session.”For the month of February, players will attend two team practices each week and scrimmage games start on Feb.18.
The excitement about LJYB players all wearing vintage and current authentic Padre jerseys and caps for the 2012 season is building. Mark March 3 for the unveiling of these fantastic uniforms that were generously donated by the San Diego Padres.
They have even promised a surprise VIP to throw out the First Pitch at the Opening Day Ceremony at 12 noon on March 3rd.