Jenny Slaughter, 12, of Gilbert, fine tunes her throwing technique during the Arizona State University Softball Camp held June 23 to 25 at Rumsey Park. More than 50 campers from around the western United States participated in the all-skills camp.
A stroll through the Rumsey north parking lot reveals many parked cars and trucks sporting out-of-state license plates — New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and even Indiana.
So, what’s behind all the visitors to Payson?
The vehicles belong to the parents of the 52 aspiring softball players who were in Payson this past week to participate in the Sun Devil All-Skills Softball Camp hosted by Arizona State coach Clint Myers, a former professional baseball player and the NCAA’s 2007 Coach of the Year.
For the camp, Myers brought along his assistants and many of the Sun Devil players off last year’s team that advanced to the collegiate World Series. Some were also members of the 2007 team that captured the NCAA championship.
Lady Longhorn coach Will Dunman also worked at the camp.
All the ASU players at the camp, now working as coaches, were obviously eager to share their skills with the aspiring players who ranged in age from 10 to 19 years.
Among the Payson High School softball players attending the camp were Rylee Halenar and Cami Barnett. Jenny Slaughter, a 12-year-old from Gilbert, called the camp experience “fun, but a lot of hard work.”
At the onset of the sessions, the campers were broken down into age groups and rotated each day through specialty stations where base running, bunting, slapping, hitting, fielding, throwing, catching and pitching were taught.
Myers and his staff also stressed sportsmanship, strategy, teamwork, goal setting and building self-confidence.
Prior to the start of the camp, Myers said “we will use the same drills we use in our daily practices with our college team to teach mental and physical skills development — they will learn the ASU way of playing softball.”
Some of the teaching tools coaches used were a bit foreign to the younger campers. They included The Extra Infielder, Swift Stik, Grand Slam Pitching Machine, Weighted Agility Gloves and Zone-In.
“All of it kind of blows you away,” said Charlene Hunt, a town recreation leader who helped draw the camp to Payson.
On Wednesday evening, June 24, Myers and his staff hosted a three-hour long coaching clinic for area youth and high school coaches.
During the clinic, ASU coaches broke into groups allowing those attending to mingle freely and ask questions and pick up tips.
“The only topic they did not discuss in depth is pitching because our pitching coach did not come up to camp because she is pregnant,” Myers said.
Yesterday, the final day of the camp, Hunt prepared a cowboy-style deep pit beef barbecue lunch for Myers and his staff.
Bringing the camp to Payson was a coup for the Rim Country because it has been previously held in the Pinetop-Lakeside area.
Both Hunt and Dunman heavily lobbied Myers last spring to ditch the White Mountains and move the camp to Payson.
Myers said moving to the Rim Country, “seems to be a perfect fit for us, all the support and the fantastic layout of the camp site (North Rumsey).”
Due to success of the inaugural camp, plans are to host it again next summer in Payson.