ANNA — Monday morning, June 5, found Anna baseball head coach Joey Hector welcoming just under 90 boys to the Anna Sports Complex — where the big Coyotes play — for three days of instruction in America’s pastime. Five-year-olds up through students entering high school were there, with bats, balls, caps and gloves — ready to get started.
This was Hector’s 22nd baseball camp overall, his fifth since arriving in Anna.
“My first year we had nine kids here at camp and five of them were coaches’ kids,” he said. “Now we’re pushing 100 it looks like.”
Hector said these camps over the years have never gotten boring or predictable.
“Actually, it changes year to year,” he said. “You’ve got different kids, different interest levels. Today is a defensive day, tomorrow is an offensive day. Wednesday we end with some competition and some skills. We’re just trying to get them to love baseball.”
His favorite part of camp these days?
“I love watching the little kids,” he said. “When they come out and see a facility like this, they’re kind of amazed by it. So it’s kind of a cool deal to see the excitement when they get on what they think is a professional baseball field.”
Over these morning sessions, campers learned proper techniques and terminology involved with the game of baseball, with throwing, catching and hitting receiving particular attention on different days. Campers were divided into groups based on age and skill level.
Helping Hector were Anna baseball assistant coach Jorge Rubio, former Anna baseball assistant Benton Timpanaro and Anna football assistant coach Brandon Powell. Also assisting with instruction were former Coyote Gage Scribner, who graduated from Anna in 2016 and now plays for Murray State College, and Hector’s son Rawley, an incoming freshman at Anna who’ll play for the Coyotes. Helping out as well were Scribner’s Murray State College teammates Payton Graham and Levi Hon, both of Wylie.
“It’s kind of neat to let these guys get to coach it and give back to the game, so to speak,” Hector said.
On Day 3, campers hit the batting cages where stations were set up to let hitters smack a ball perched on a hitting tee. One station featured Hector clocking the ball’s speed off the bat. Jaden Adams, 14, came in with the top velocity for the day, sending a ball toward the net-protected Hector at 76 miles per hour.
Also on the final day, three mini-diamonds were set up across the field — with Frisbees for bases and net back stops — to allow simultaneous “real-game” competitions. Adding to the big-time feel at one point, Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline was piped over the speaker system, just like the Boston Red Sox do in the eighth inning at Fenway Park.
Scribner was asked about his experience in returning to Anna to assist with the camp.
“It’s always great getting to come out and work with Coach Hector,” he said. “He’s a great coach and knows what he’s talking about. He’s been around the game a long time. And what he knows shows through his kid (Rawley), because he is going to be one of the best to come up through Anna.”
Scribner said he’d attended similar camps as a youngster.
“I think it helped a lot,” he said, “getting to go talk to other coaches that aren’t necessarily my coach and picking their brain and see what they know and add it to my game.”
To close out camp, Hector spoke with the group as a crowd of parents looked on in the warm noonday sun. A baseball snapshot — some of the best snapshots there are.