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Lafayette baseball players giving back with annual summer camp

Almost exactly a month after leading his Lafayette Commodore team to the 5A State Championship series, John Walker was back at W.V. Brewer Field giving a little different type of instruction.

Lafayette held their annual youth baseball camp over this past week, bringing together kids ages 5 to 12 for some baseball instruction and a little bit of fun. For Walker, it serves a bit of a multifaceted purpose.

“One, we’re just kind of representing our program and the community. But two, we’re trying to grow baseball players and a program,” Walker said. “The more people we get involved and the more people that put eyes on us, the better off we’re going to be down the road.”

The first few days of camp at Lafayette focus on simple fundamentals. They’ll teach proper baserunning, fielding and batting techniques – the stuff coaches and players say can bore the kids – before they get to the fun stuff. On Thursday, they held a series of competitions: a home run derby, throwing accuracy, throwing speed and baserunning competition, before they finished off camp with a slip-n-slide.

One of the fun parts of the camp, for the kids, is it’s led not just by Walker and his coaching staff, but there’s always a handful or more of currently Lafayette players around to help out.

“Honestly it’s fun. I just like seeing the kids and helping them out a bit, just like my dad used to do with me,” said rising senior Chris McCullough. “I never went to any of these camps but my dad worked with me. I’m just trying to help the kids that aren’t playing travel ball and just work with them.”

When the final day of camp rolled around, it wasn’t just the kids having the fun. The players that were right there in Pearl for the state title series were out shagging balls for the kids’ home run derby. McCullough and others were doing the slip-n-slide right beside the elementary kids.

“Our kids, our players love doing this. They love the kids that come in and they’re so good with them,” Walker said. “I’m blessed to have good players that are a part of this and are excited when this week comes. A lot of times they’re more excited about it than the kids that are participating in the camps.”

Walker jokes that some of the kids just like coming out and helping so they can get out of the grueling summer workout schedule. The Lafayette baseball team is working lifting and running with the football team over the summer.

But it’s also just their sharing the love of the game, with an added bonus of reminding them a bit of what they were like as kids.

“It was hard – a bit crazy. I was with the younger kids and they weren’t listening the best, obviously. But they’re kids,” McCullough said. “The hardest part was definitely getting them to listen. But when they get to have fun with the home run derby and stuff. It’s really cool.”