Baseball camp offered for Rowan, Cabarrus kids

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Joanie Morris
Salisbury Post
KANNAPOLIS ó For the third year, the Kannapolis Police Department will present the Wendy’s Summer Classic baseball camp to boys and girls in Cabarrus and Rowan counties.
The brainchild of Lt. Bret Johnson with the Kannapolis Police Department, the weeklong baseball camp is aimed at teaching the kids ó ages 8 to 13 ó the fundamentals of baseball along with another important lesson.
“The focus of this year’s camp is going to be making positive life choices, along with baseball,” said Johnson on Thursday afternoon. “No. 1, we’re going to teach them good baseball skills. Second of all is to teach them there’s more to life than baseball.
“The choices they’ll make over the next several years will affect them not only on the field, but possibly for the rest of their lives,” Johnson added.
The camp will run from June 23 to 26 on the fields at Northwest Cabarrus High School from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and is free for the participants. Johnson has gotten sponsors to cover the cost of the camp. Space is limited to the first 100 students that register and so far, 60 people have registered for the camp. Each year, there is a waiting list.
Coaches on tap to help lead this year’s camp include Joe Hubbard, Northwest Cabarrus head coach; Empsy Thompson, A.L. Brown High School head coach; Joe Gragg, China Grove Middle School coach; Jason Sarvis, J.M. Robinson head coach; Jason Hooks, Northwest Cabarrus coach; Craig Steward, Mooresville High School coach; Todd Hagler, A.L. Brown coach; Jim Gant, Catawba College coach; David Langley, Northwest Cabarrus coach; Thad Chrismon, South Rowan High School coach; and Mark Hayes, Pfeiffer University coach.
“The baseball instruction part of it is as good as any camp around,” Johnson said. While he estimates a camp of this type would cost more than $100 for participants, campers here won’t have to pay a dime for the instruction, although concession stands will be open for business. Water will be provided for the campers to hydrate.
“Because we’re having such a big crowd, other departments are also sending officers to help,” added Johnson. In addition to officers from the Kannapolis Police Department, there will be officers from the Concord Police Department and the Landis Police Department, as well as deputies from the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office.
The participants will be divided up by age groups and assigned an officer, who will stay with that group all week. The groups will rotate from coach to coach, getting a chance to learn from each of the coaches.
At the end of each day, there will be a featured speaker to talk about positive life choices. Speakers on tap for this year’s camp include Mike Morton, a former St. Louis Rams football player and current dentist in Kannapolis; Cabarrus County Sheriff Brad Riley; and Lauren Hibs, the coach at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. If any of the speakers falls through, Johnson said it’s possible that a famous NASCAR driver could be a guest speaker.
The coaches, officers and featured speakers will teach the kids all week about baseball as well as making positive life choices and the consequences of making poor choices such as using drugs, joining gangs and violence.
On the last day of the camp, there will be a coaches forum, where coaches will tell the students what they look for in baseball players and give those participants a chance to ask questions.
“They expect to hear this message from a police officer,” said Johnson. “When a baseball coach they are one day hoping to play for stands up and says, ‘I don’t care what you can do with a baseball, if you’re making these poor choices, I’m not going to be able to use you …’ You know what I mean?”
Johnson said registration for the camp will close “when we get 100 kids.” It’s first come, first served at this baseball camp.
In addition to Wendy’s restaurant, other sponsors include ASE Communications, Cheerwine, Quality Motors, Mike Morton Dentist Office, Quality Home Improvements, Attorney Ben Franklin, Bill Reames Nationwide Insurance Agent, Sun Drop, the Salisbury Post, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Bost Bonding Agency.
To register for the camp, or if you have more questions, contact Lt. Bret Johnson at the Kannapolis Police Department at 704-920-4016.
Contact Joanie Morris at 704-932-3336 or