If you’re a parent out there who has a child interested in baseball or softball, this story is the one for you! Mitchell Hudson, a 34-year-old Swainsboro man, is putting on a camp toward the end of the month to help better area ball players’ fundamentals. The Chronicle caught up with Hudson this week about the undertaking. Here’s what you need to know.
The man leading the charge is a 2005 graduate of Swainsboro High School and attended Armstrong Atlantic State University from 2005 to 2008. Today, he’s a production manager for Idea7—but he has plenty of knowledge about and experience in the sports he’ll be instructing in just a few weeks.
“I’ve been playing baseball since I was a little guy,” Hudson explained. “I fell in love with the sport and played Dixie Youth League, travel ball, middle school at SMS, high school at SHS from ’02 to ’05, and finally played college ball at AASU from ’05 to ‘08. After a shoulder surgery, I took some time off but got back into playing rec league softball in Savannah for about four years. Since being back in Swainsboro in 2013, I’ve played a lot of Friday night church league softball, which is a blast. I’ve also ventured into the world of umpiring games; I covered rec league games up to high school baseball games and umpired up through some middle school games in softball.”
Altogether, Hudson has coached for about 10 years, including baseball, softball, basketball, and soccer teams. The ages he has worked with has ranged from 4- to 14-years-old, depending on the sport. Ever since his girls have been of age to play softball, he has coached their teams over the last four years. Most recently, Hudson was part of a coaching staff that took a local 8U all-star team to state and finished second.
He says the idea for the camp stemmed from his passion for sports, his love for helping children, and inquiries on social media about what, if any, baseball or softball camps were taking place in the area.
“I really love both baseball and softball, and I love helping kids. I want kids to love this sport as much as I do, and one reason we love things is when we are good at it. If kids work hard for something, they will see results and love this sport even more. These attributes will hopefully spill into all aspects of their life—sports, family, school, and, most importantly, growing in their relationship with Jesus,” Hudson explained. “At the time I decided to do this, there had been several posts on Facebook asking about baseball or softball camps. I’ve done some private lessons for players this year, and my good friend, Matthew McNeely, really sparked an idea in conversation with me to do a local camp this summer. I’ve wanted to do things like this in the past but just never followed through. I think I might be more excited than the kids for the camp to get here!”
Luckily enough, Hudson and camp participants, whoever they turn out to be, won’t have to wait much longer.
For a fee of $60, ages four through 12 are welcome to attend a two-day camp at Swainsboro-Emanuel County Recreation Department’s softball complex closest to the office/gymnasium. Instruction will include all fundamentals of training with lots throwing, catching, fielding, and hitting reps as well as running and situational training. The entire event will span from July 26 to July 31, and participants will be assigned their two days based on their respective ages.
July 26 and July 27, for example, will be for ages 4- to 6-years-old and geared for beginners. July 28 and July 29 will be for players ages 6- to 9-years-old, and July 30 and July 31 will be for children ages 10- to 12-years-old.
Participants who sign up and pay by July 17 will be guaranteed a camp t-shirt. Waters will be provided daily for campers.
Baseballs will be used for boys, and softballs will be used for girls.
Hudson would also like to note there will be daily devotions and teachings of life lessons about how Jesus can make a difference in campers’ lives.
The approach he plans to take is to be “very informative and clear during instruction while keeping a fun atmosphere around the drill.”
“I’m said to be patient with the kids. I understand there will be different levels of players present for this and will structure drills to have basic objectives for new players, and we can easily add levels of complexity for the players that need to be pushed. My general thought is that kids need to have fun while out there, and that makes the work we put in so much easier.”
Helping him at the camp will be a couple youth from his church who work well with kids; these folks will help facilitate some of the drills. He will also have other area coaches helping, along with some local high school players.
“My goal is to get boys and girls on the field to work on their game. Whatever level they are at, they can improve some aspect of their game. This will be a fun opportunity to work with their peers and get some instruction on fundamentals of the game that will lead to future success. My theme verse for the camp is Colossians 3:23: ‘Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord, not for man.’ We can work on the craft of baseball or softball and remember that we are blessed with our talents by the Lord, and we can honor Him through our work. Of course, this translates to all aspects of our life, and I get the opportunity to talk to these kids about that as well!”