BASEBALL: Delta’s ‘boys of summer’ head indoors for winter training

NORTH DELTA — In January, when most young athletes are in the middle of hockey, soccer or basketball season, North Delta Baseball Association is giving its players a chance to start the season early.

The association has rented the gym at Sands Secondary for winter clinics for all youth players from blastball (ages five and under) to midget (18 and under).

Tim Fehr, director of coaching for NDBA, said the training sessions, which began in the middle of January, are about giving the players a leg up before they try out for a team.

"They’ve all been playing soccer and hockey all winter. Spring is coming and we start to do our evaluations and tryouts in late February and March," Fehr said.

Other local baseball associations are hosting similar pre-season clinics.

"It gives the kids an opportunity to come out, get some swings in, take some ground balls, start throwing so when we do the evaluations and the tryouts, they’re not fresh out of winter," said Fehr, a former Pacific International League player and coach.

In North Delta, the 21 spots available for the combined peewee and bantam session were filled very quickly, he noted.

"This is a pretty regular thing for North Delta," Fehr said. "This year was really good. We sold out really early. We’re going to do pitching, we’re going to do hitting and we’ll do some fielding drills. We’ve brought out coaches from the association," he added.

With practices limited to a gym or other indoor facilities, Fehr said he caters the drills to the amount of given space.

"One of the things I’ve talked to the instructors about … is that we will be limited to what we can do," said Fehr. "We’ve designed the drills and our expectations around what we can do inside."

Rather than doing "live hitting," he has the players hitting in front of a screen so they can work on their technique and batting stance.With the association’s numbers cut in half to approximately 450 kids, league managers have to do different things like the winter clinics to attract and retain kids, Fehr said.

"One of our philosophies on retaining them is to give them good skill development to show the value to the parents," he explained. "When they sign their kid up for North Delta, they’re going to get good coaching, the kid is going to get a good experience, he’s going to enjoy himself and he’s going to get something out of it."

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