‘Tis the season.
No, Santa Claus is not overhead on his sleigh to deliver presents under the Christmas tree.
It’s the time of the year where summer camps are taking place all over the Illinois Valley to improve players, coaches and teams before school sports start in August.
Ronnie Pelzynski, who will be a senior at La Salle-Peru for the upcoming school year, believes high school camps are about bringing everyone together.
The pitcher and outfielder is helping Cavaliers coach Matt Glupczynski run the L-P Freshman Camp taking place Monday-Friday this week.
“I wanted to do the camp because L-P over the years — coach Glupczynski has talked about it — has had a couple of bad groups. I want to help reiterate what he’s taught our group. We are the first group in a pretty long time to come together as a team and have comradery and cohesion together.
“I just want to give that to the incoming freshman so they can keep the tradition and culture and help it keep going.”
The Cavaliers also have the Peru Summer Camp going on to develop players.
The St. Bede baseball team recently finished the La Salle Rec Camp, which was in session June 17-21 and was for children ages of 8-12.
Bruins coach Bill Booker was busy teaching summer school, but he worked out a camp plan with soon-to-be seniors Trevor Mooney and Dylan Grammer and recent graduate Kane Clendenen.
“The most outstanding thing I see is that they have a smile on their face and not having bad posture or body behavior,” said Mooney, who was the Bruins first baseman during the season. “That’s a big thing in baseball, to make sure they have good body language and that they’re always having a positive attitude even if they make an error or the team is losing.
“We want to make sure that they’re not pouting and that they’re trying to lift their team up. When we run these camps, we make sure they’re having fun but that they’re also doing the drills correctly and are learning the right mechanics.”
The Twitter accounts of Clendenen and the SBA baseball team were loaded with videos of the campers learning baseball fundamentals.
After stretching and plyos (plyometrics), there were four stations as pitchers, catchers, infielders and outfielders went through defensive drills.
“Whoever plays those positions (for SBA) will teach them the correct way to play that position,” Mooney said. “We teach them how to field a ground ball the correct way or catch a fly ball. For catchers — how young they are — it’s mostly about how to frame and working on their transfer. We want to make sure they’re coming straight back and not bringing the ball down and out.
“The pitchers, it’s all about mechanics. It’s making sure they’re getting their leg up and not dragging their back foot. Most importantly, it’s about getting their arm over the top and not throwing side arm. For the outfielders, we work on their stance to make sure when they catch it that they’re catching it on their throwing-hand side so it’s an easy transfer.”
Baseball camps are not the only sports outlets for kids happening in June and July.
Golfers are taking to the greens in the Illinois Valley Summer High School Summer Golf League, which is not a camp but helps participants stay competitive and push their scores to match their peers.
Softball, basketball, football and volleyball camps are running rampant.
The Putnam County volleyball team wrapped up its camp for incoming 2nd-8th graders last week.
“I think for volleyball, it’s really eye opening for little girls,” Lady Panthers coach Amy Bell said. “It’s something new that they really haven’t been involved in before because there isn’t a volleyball league for young children around here. This is a great way to get them involved in volleyball and to get them to know what it’s all about.
“I’ve had parents reach out to me since we’ve had camp and ask, ‘Is there an opportunity for her to keep playing?’ But they have to wait until they get to sixth grade (for volleyball in school). The camp is a really, really good opportunity for them to begin volleyball.”
Not only did Bell see the campers learning and enjoying the camp, but she saw growth and development from her players, from freshman to seniors, who helped run the camp.
The new volleyball players were able to see how older players stayed active and engrossed themselves into the sport, while the Lady Panthers were remembering the mechanics.
“I think it teaches the high school players about things and gives them a greater appreciation for their coaches,” Bell said. “It helps them have a greater appreciation of how important it is to do the fine details of all of the drills — the nitty gritty of all of the skills — and why we make them do them because that’s what makes them successful.
“I think it really helps the older girls break down the foundational skills and remember how they learned how to do things. Sometimes it helps to break their bad habits.”
Brandon LaChance is a NewsTribune Sports Writer. He can be reached at 220-6995, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.