About 200 kids and nine of the 10 teams from this year’s Avista NAIA World Series teams packed the outfield at Harris Field on Wednesday as the Kids Clinic returned.
After a large group photo, the teams split up into 10 different stations to teach the youngsters different baseball skills.
The kids were split into age groups and worked on everything from ground throws to strikes and catches.
The teams did not focus on the exercises themselves, but on the fact that all the children had fun.
Defending champion Georgia Gwinnett made sure every child felt welcome at her resort. Each group ran through a man-made tunnel as the players cheered them on.
“Good times to be with the community right before the World Series, and that’s a way to give back,” said Georgia Gwinnett sophomore Adam Alicea-Brooks. “It’s a time to reflect, honestly, truly grateful for this moment and to spend time with these children.”
The Grizzlies shared right field with Westmont (California), which earned a series berth for the first time. The Warriors were the loudest group as they turned a basic running drill into a relay race, followed by a trotting home run celebration.
“I think it’s awesome, a magical moment for these kids that they will remember for the rest of their lives,” Westmont assistant Elijah Ontiveros said. “A great way for our guys to just connect with the community since the community pours so much into this event.”
In the batting cages, the Southeast (Florida) players made their own noise as they combined a hitting drill with an emphasis on mutual encouragement. The Fire players celebrated every batting with a group party, challenging the kids to get louder each time.
Bellevue (Neb.) and Faulkner (Alabama) worked behind the plate on pitching. The team had baseballs and softballs for the kids to choose from.
LSU Shreveport, Tennessee Wesleyan and MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) worked on fly balls, throws and catches.
The Pioneers soaked up every moment of the event, taking a group photo with each group of children who passed by their station.
“That’s what it’s all about,” said MidAmerica Nazarene assistant Waldo Odens Jr. Baseball is child’s play. The older we get, the more we take this for granted, even at the college level or those of us at the professional level.
Lewis-Clark State led the kids through pickle drills where redshirt receiver Charlie Tentinger said he performed more than 80 pickles and was successful every time.
Webber International (Florida) was the only team that did not participate, as they had flight issues and were unable to get to town in time to compete in the event.
7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.: Practices at Harris Field
6-7:30 p.m.: World Series Banquet, P1FCU Activity Center