by RANDY GREGORY
Ian Hearn hosted the first Ram Baseball Camp in 2008 with fewer than 60 participants. As the success of the program has multiplied exponentially over the last four years, attendance has multiplied correspondingly. This year, over 200 kids—from districts as wide ranging as Greenville, Sparta, Comstock Park and Big Rapids—have signed up so far.
“When we started offering the camps we were a little disappointed in the turnout,” said head varsity coach Hearn. “We wanted to get it up to at least over a hundred. So we are very pleased with the growth we have experienced over the last few years. We think it is a good experience not only for the participants, but our baseball players as well.”
This year will see two separate sessions offered. The first will be the pitching and catching portion to be held this Wednesday and Thursday, June 13 and 14. It will be broken down into three different age groups. Eighth- through tenth-graders will go from 8 to 9:30 a.m., fifth- though seventh-graders will run from 9:45 to 11:15 a.m., and first- through fourth-graders will have their turn from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The other option available to participants is the Total Offense and Total Defense Clinic to be held from Monday through Wednesday, June 18-20. The eighth- through tenth-graders will meet from 8 to 10 a.m., second- through fourth-graders take part from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., and fifth- through seventh-graders go at it from 1 to 3 p.m. for those three days.
All of the coaches that comprise Rockford baseball at the high school level will be participating in the clinics. But it doesn’t stop there. Rockford’s varsity baseball team and several previous alumni will also play a pivotal role in teaching the finer points of “Ram Baseball.” This year’s graduating seniors are definitively main cogs in reaching heights that Rockford baseball had only dared dream of previously. The Rams have won three of the last four OK Red titles after not having won one in over 20 years. They have also captured various regular season tournament crowns, district and regional titles, and the school’s first-ever state championship with the Division I top spot in 2011. Individually the Rams have sent multiple players to all levels of college baseball from junior college to Division I over the last five years as well.
All the festivities will take place at the Rockford High School baseball complex, including state-of-the-art batting cages and pitching mounds. Anyone wishing to have their child take part can still sign up, but Hearn asks that you do so by showing up on the scheduled day.