By John Raffel Art Van Sports Complex drew around 50 baseball players at “Summer Classic” baseball skills camp Tuesday and Wednesday, July 14-15. Age divisions were 6-to-9 and 10-to-14. The camp provided youngsters with a baseball skill and drill instruction in a very fun and creative way. The two-day event was themed around the Major League Baseball all-star game. Instructors featured some of the area’s current or former college baseball players/coaches with wide baseball experience. It was originally intended to be a Monday-Tuesday camp. But a rainout on Monday forced it to be rescheduled. Jeff Vanhuis a representative with Baseball Concepts of Zeeland, which conducted the camp, said his company began running youth baseball camps 2009. “We run around 10 camps a year, spread out every five to six weeks,” he said. “It’s really geared toward the kids in the age range to 6-to-9 and 10-13. We provide really high quality baseball at an affordable rate for kids and families. We’ve done that by utilizing a lot of the local universities and colleges with good, talented instructors.” Both sessions went for three hours. “In the younger age groups, we emphasized the hitting stations and the very basics like how to stand and hit a ball from the tee,” Vanhuis said, “and how to position yourself, your hands, your weight transfers, and do it in a simplify fashion for the young kids.” For the younger players in an outfield station, a tennis ball type of object was used to avoid any type of accidents. “For our older age group, we pulled in some fairly advanced hitting and pitching drills that are there for them to use,” Vanhuis said. “Even the younger kids got a taste of that.” There were about 50 at the entire camp. “It was super organized,” Vanhuis said. “The vast majority were from the Grand Rapids region. We had some as far as St. Joseph.” Vanhuis is hoping to run a couple of camps at Art Van next season, perhaps including one in the spring. “July proved to be a decent time of year to run a camp,” Vanhuis said. “We’re able to have as many as 100 to 125 kids.”
Sports news from Rockford Public Schools
The Rockford football coaching staff has always provided a great experience to the multitude of youngsters that have annually taken part in the FUNdamental Youth Football Clinic and this year will be no exception. Well over 200 third through sixth graders have already signed up and there is still time to register for the event which will be held Monday, July 27th through Thursday, July 30th. The clinic will run daily from 9:00 A.M. to 12:30 A.M. and will group third and fourth graders together and fifth and sixth graders as a unit as well. The entire Rockford coaching staff at every level from 78ers to Head Varsity Coach Ralph Munger will run the festivities along with members of the 2015 varsity team. There will be special contests featuring speed, accuracy and technique all week long. Drill work will emphasize every facet of football including ball security, blocking punts, proper footwork and other aspects. Techniques covered will include proper stance and starts, pulling, blocking and tackling and many other necessities to a game that emphasizes individual and team responsibilities on every play. Late registration will be accepted by mailing a $70 dollar check to Coach Ralph Munger 2857 12 Mile Road Rockford, MI 49341. Please make the checks payable to “Rockford football”. Registration will be at the Plaza area of Ted Carlson Memorial Stadium at Rockford High School on the opening day of the clinic (July 27th). Coach Munger can be contacted at 866-7797 (H) or 204-1857 (C) if you have any further questions. This is a non-contact clinic so no football equipment is to be worn by participants. You may access a copy of the form for the clinic by going to the football web site at Rockfordfootball.com and clicking on summer camps and going to the youth football clinic prompt.
By John Raffel The Jenison Wildcats were among the first-place teams on Sunday in the final day of the Grand Rapids Summer Baseball Championships, conducted by Game Day USA. Teams were able to brave humid weather and occasional rain showers to get the games completed. The Wildcats defeated the Streator Bandits 15-7 in the 15U gold bracket championship game. The Wildcats defeated Penn White 12-2 in the semifinals while the Bandits edged the Bar’s Leaks Baseball Club 8-7. The Detroit Metro Stars beat the Indiana Land Sharks 9-6 in the gold bracket finals of the 14U division while in the semifinals, the Stars beat the Grand Rapids Flames 7-2. In other action, the Detroit Metro Stars won the 13U tournament gold bracket finals with a 13-2 verdict over the Motor City Chiefs. The Capital City Cobra lost 13-7 to the Indiana Nitro in the 11U gold bracket finals. Earlier on Sunday, the Motor City Chiefs downed the Oakland Iron Pigs 9-3 in the 13U gold bracket while the Indiana Nitro beat the Macomb String 17-14. In an 11U game, the Jenison Wildcats also beat the Huron Valley Rebels 8-0 in the 15U tournament bracket. A major event takes place this weekend at Art Van with the Game Day USA National Championships. Action begins on Thursday July 23, and continues through Sunday. Age divisions are as follows; 8U, 9U, 10U, 11U 12U, 13U, 14U, 15U and 16U. Mike Moyzis, vice president of special events for Game Day USA, has indicated teams will be coming from all over the country and various parts of the world, including Hanoi, Viet Nam.
By John Raffel Warmer weather might mean more success in upcoming weeks for Rockford area fishermen. But like anything else, it depends on so many other factors. Chris Herman of the Riverbound Fly Fish Outfitters in Rockford said smallmouth bass fishing at the Rogue River should be productive. He added that various areas of the Rogue are doing good for trout. “Once the weather warms up and the trout slow down, you should check for smallmouth,” Herman said. “But it should be good right now. I pulled out a few smallmouth not that long ago.” Glen Blackwood of Great Lakes Fly Fishing Co. in Rockford said anglers are between hatches. “Fishing, morning at best, has been OK,” he said. “Caddis, nymph and streamer fishing continue to be the dominant way of catching trout in the system. Until the white mayfly shows up in another month to six weeks, depending on weather, we aren’t going to have much mayfly activity. The smallmouth fishing in the lower river below the Rockford Dam is picking up as fish move out of the Grand and into the lower Rogue.” Also in the west Michigan area, the DNR reports that in thee Grand River at Grand Rapids, water levels were down significantly. Flathead and channel catfish are still being caught on worms and bluegills, the DNR said, adding that carp fishing has slowed compared to the last few weeks. Anglers are getting walleye and smallmouth bass have been caught off the wall by those using live bait, the DNR said, adding that bluegills were caught in the backwaters. North of Rockford in Montcalm County, large pike 35 to 39 inches and some bass were caught on Big Whitefish Lake, the DNR said. Undersized walleye and trout are plentiful in the upper and lower portions near Hardy Dam and Croton Dam in the Muskegon River, the DNR reports.
By John Raffel It was virtually perfect baseball weather over the weekend for the United States Spectator Sports Association Global World Series at Art Van Sports Complex. The Michigan Bulls from Novi and the Rhinos from Northern Chicago battled for the Division B 13U title with the Bulldogs taking a 5-4 victory. The game ended the top of the seventh on a double play. “We had teams from Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and the east side of Michigan and a few local teams,” USSSA official Bob Wilkerson said. The Bulldogs were 6-1 for the weekend and have a 52-8 record this season. “The team we beat (in the finals) was very good,” Bulls coach Bobby Martin said. “It was our pitching and our defense. We struggled hitting this weekend which is odd for us. But our pitching and hitting picked us up.” The Bulldogs had solid pitching from Brandon Lowry, Bruce Alsobrooks and Jason Robson. “It’s an awesome tournament,” Martin said. “Hopefully it keeps growing. Bob does an awesome job running this tournament. Every time we come to a tournament they run, it’s fantastic. They do a great job. The facility is great. We’re looking forward to coming back again, probably next summer.” It was one of his team’s best weekends of the season, Martin said. “They performed and competed really well,” Martin said. “We expected to compete.” USSSA returns to Art Van on Labor Day weekend in September. “That will be an Elite All-American tryout on Sept. 4,” Wilkerson said. “Then we have a tournament, a fastpitch tournament, that weekend.”