By Clay Whittington

The Belton Journal

Summer camp is for the kids, but they are not the only ones who enjoy it.

Lady Tigers head softball coach Morgan Birkel and her staff conducted their annual summer camp this week, welcoming 29 participants to the field for three days of drills, competitions and games intended to improve their fundamental knowledge and overall abilities within the sport.

While the goal was accomplished with the group growing in various ways from the experience, there were benefits for Birkel as well.

“I love running camp,” she said. “It is so funny, because sometimes you get caught up in your summer schedule or you just start thinking about how nice it is to have some time off, but the second I start talking to my assistant coaches out on the field, I’ll realize just how good it is to be back. There is just that moment when you remember how nice it is to be on the field and involved with the community.

“During the season, it can be hard to get these younger kids to come out and talk with them, so I love being able to dedicate a few days to getting to interact and help them.”

Breaking the participants into three groups based on age, the trio of three-hour sessions saw an overall increase in attendance from approximately 22 kids a year ago.

The younger group focused on basic skills, including hitting, fielding and throwing, while the older groups were introduced to more advanced aspects such as learning how to position their bodies or getting the ball out of their gloves quicker when throwing.

But the goal is to give campers the ability to continue progressing after the event concludes.

“Just because they learned it here doesn’t mean it stays here,” Birkel said. “I want them to take things with them. That is the way they will grow as players.

“Camp only lasts three days, but they should take these ideas home with them.”

Along with her coaching staff, Birkel utilizes current players to help oversee the camp, and their presences are beneficial in multiple ways.

The players allow for more individual attention with the campers, and they provide a different voice that kids will often eagerly respond to.

Regardless of their impacts, Birkel receives massive amounts of inner pride because of their participation.

“It is just amazing to see them work with these kids,” she said. “I know what great girls they are, and I see them work their butts off all year, but it is just great to see them get excited about teaching younger kids. They really own the moment and have fun.

“They are the biggest supporters that I could possibly ask for, so it is just really cool, and I think the older girls enjoy seeing the talent that is coming up behind them.”