Diamondback Camp Has Plenty Of Room

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Jeff Swanson, Arizona Diamond-backs business manager for Baseball Outreach and Develop-ment, is concerned about the future of the youth training camp scheduled to be in Payson July 7 to 11.

"Right now, we only have 11 kids signed up and typically the camp gets up to 30 or so," he said. "We definitely like being up in Payson for this camp."

What Swanson probably does not know is that many parents of Payson youth are slow, usually tardy, in signing up their children for sports activities.

Just ask Little League and youth football league volunteers who are often forced to delay planning and scheduling until all players have registered.

At the town P&R offices, it's also no secret that some parents put off registering their children until the last minute.

Early this week, the Payson Central Arizona Youth Football Association board went so far as to set a $20 late fee on those who do not sign up by the July 19 deadline.

"We hope that will encourage them to register on time," CAYFA representative Felicia Moore said.

While Swanson might be concerned this week, registrations could pick up before the camp actually kicks off at Rumsey Park.

Since the training center's first appearance in the Rim Country about nine years ago, the baseball camps have returned each year with a new set of coaches and instructors.

Usually they are hand-picked by the organization and include high school coaches and college and minor league players.

Shannon Godfrey, Diamond-backs assistant for Baseball Outreach and Development, said both baseball and softball will again be offered.

However, in the past a softball camp had to be canceled when not enough participants signed up.

The baseball camps usually fill to capacity.

About the only setback the camps have suffered in past years is that they are held about the same time as Little League postseason area, district and state tournaments.

Which means, some of Payson's finest baseball players --sually the Little League all-star selections --annot participate.

Diamondback training center coaches sent to Payson in the past say they are aware of the problem but because the camps are offered in about 40 towns and cities around Arizona in a short three-month period, the conflict would be tough to resolve.

The camps, which are held through the week from 8 to 11 a.m., feature instruction in all aspects of baseball and fast pitch softball, including hitting, fielding, base running, pitching, strategy and sportsmanship.

Coaches usually throw in spirit contests and games to keep the camp sessions fun and interesting.

Godfrey said the purpose of training centers are to instill an enhanced self-image, increased skills, improved knowledge of the game and greater community pride in the participants.

Godfrey estimates that since the inception of the program, "over 17,000 kids have ‘learned to play the D-backs' way.'"

The training centers are open to all players 6 to 18 years of age.

The fee of $150 includes 15 hours of instruction, a Diamond-backs cap and T-shirt, instructional DVD and the opportunity to attend select Diamondback home games.

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