July 28, 2000
WACO, Texas -
Freelance reporter Robert Vasquez took time to join the youngsters at Baylor's recent free football, basketball and baseball clinics. What follows is his report.
Even the oppressive Texas heat was not a deterrent for the 37 boys who participated in a Baylor Bear free football clinic.
Even Mother Nature knows that it is time for football. She cooled the heat to a mere 96 degrees and let the clouds stroll by for the boys of fall (even if it is summer).
One player was heard compared the workout to two-a-days. The first drill the kids participated in was the "Yes Sir!" response to the call of "Bears Ready?." The clinic started off with coach Scott Smith bringing the Cubs to order. As the "Bears Ready" call was sung out, it did not take the Cubs long to realize they were in for a workout. They fell in line and began to run as if they had been together as a team all summer.
After warm-ups, the boys were broken into smaller teams. Quarterbacks,
running backs, receivers and lineman were sent to their separate stations.
With the linemen, there was never a question of discipline as they all stood at attention waiting on their assignments. Beginning with foot work and moving on to the hitting of the hand-held pads, even the smallest of lineman popped back to his feet after being knocked on his back several times. This group was a treat to watch.
The quarterbacks were a welcome sight, even if they were only 7-14 years old. Coach Tommie Frazier had them doing 3-5 step drops in no time, as if he was preparing them to lead their own teams to a title. He had his group working on technique as well as movement.
The running backs were low to the ground and running straight ahead. The Cubs were catching passes coming out of the backfield as well as
taking the pitch. They learned how to form a pocket for the hand off.
In the next group, the receivers doubled as corners. Very few dropped the pass. Even if the pass was a little off, they went all out to catch it. Their hands were made to catch footballs. When Smith had them doing defensive drills, they watched the ball and moved on his command. You couldn't help but know when the ball was loose as the players sounded out the sweet music of a defense: "BALL!! BALL!!"
Switching sports, the Ferrell Center had basketballs bouncing on the hard wood as 107 girls ages 7-14 participated in a Lady Bears free basketball clinic.
Kim Mulkey-Robertson, the Lady Bears' new basketball coach, coached the young ladies on their skills. The girls worked on everything from ball handling to teamwork.
One of the more important skills, she said, was to move your feet on defense. She demonstrated how to make the ball-handler pick up her dribble, and to yell "ball" to let your teammates know that the ball has stopped.
Mulkey-Robertson read a poem that the girls took to heart and of which they each received a copy. All the ladies who participated in the clinic got together for a group picture. The Lady Bears' head coach ended the clinic by calling for support from the ladies, saying she wanted see and hear them at the games.
As every summer day in Waco seems to be, it was hot -- 102 degrees, to be exact -- when over one hundred boys ages 7-14 took the field at the Baylor Ballpark. Only a breeze and the knowledge that baseball is supposed to be hot comforted the boys.
Coach Steve Johnigan started the afternoon by introducing the other coaches as well as some of the players. Johnigan had them break into groups of about thirty and go to three different stations.
The first station of the day was hitting and running to first. The stopwatch did not tick long on that 90-foot run. The younger ones were taught to keep running until you passed the base. Moving on to second base, the group was instructed on how to leave the bag. The coaching staff let the eager young students know how important is to listen to
the base coaches. The runner would move on the coach's command, then listen to the third-base coach while rounding third and heading for home.
Station two was held in the outfield. Some of the boys were catching big league pop-ups, yelling "ball, ball". They practiced catching the ball on the run to prevent runners from tagging up. In the process, the boys found out what it was like to battle the high summer sun while keeping their eyes on the ball.
The third and final station was technique. The boys learned how to throw the ball, the ABC's of batting, and play "what coach says," which to at least one boy was the best part of the day.
An afternoon of baseball... What could be better than that? And who knows... there might very well be a future Baylor Bear among the afternoon's group.