AYER – Summer softball fun.
The Ayer Recreation Department gave a group of local athletes an opportunity at just that as it hosted the Ayer Youth Softball Camp last week at Pirone Park in Ayer.
Ayer Parks Department Director Jeff Thomas and Dorothy Minear were in charge with running the camp this year and making sure things went smoothly for the close to 30 athletes in attendance.
The three-day camp, open to players entering grades three through eight, began Tuesday and wrapped up Thursday with each day jam-packed with three and a half hours of softball excitement including drills, competitions, and games.
“The camp is Tuesday through Thursday, 9:00-12:30 pm,” said Thomas. “One of the best aspects of the camp is that most of the coaches are high school and college players who have gone through our system and are now giving back by volunteering their services.”
With a dozen current and former Ayer-Shirley Regional softball athletes on hand to assist, there certainly was a plethora of knowledge and experience on the field to aid and teach the youngsters the proper steps to improving their fundamental skills.
“Jeff does a great job bringing in the junior coaches,” said Minear. “The junior coaches play a huge role in the success of the program - they do a great job of not only providing instruction, but in making connections with the players that have a lasting impact. It's so fun to watch the excitement that happens when the girls see the junior coaches throughout the year.”
When asked the goal of the camp, Minear explained.
“The goal is to expose the girls of Ayer to softball skills and build relationships that hopefully will strengthen all of our softball programs in town. We have found that these kinds of programs help to keep girls involved in town sports through many of their school years,” said Minear. “Jeff Thomas does an amazing job organizing these clinics, making sure that the girls are learning all of the general skills they need to participate in a softball program and having fun at the same time.”
Ashley Porter, Maya Wilcox, Trinity Weeks, and Bella Weeks are all Ayer residents and were part of the camp this past week.
“I’ve been a part of this camp since the third grade. It’s great because you get to practice your skills, fly balls, ground balls, baserunning, and hitting. Skills like that,” said Porter, a soon-to-be eighth grader at Ayer-Shirley Regional Middle School. “We spend a lot on skills and drills. It’s a lot of fun to be a part of this camp and spend time with my friends and coaches.”
Wilcox echoed her classmate Porter’s words.
“What I enjoy is that we play a lot of game and skill developing and its low pressure. You get to go out and just play softball and have fun,” said Wilcox. “It’s an opportunity to go out, play with your friends, have fun and improve your skills.”
Trinity Weeks will be entering the sixth grade when school begins next month. Her younger sister Bella will be entering the fourth grade.
“I’ve been coming to this camp for a while and it’s a lot of fun,” said the elder Weeks. “I really like playing with my friends because we can be really competitive with each other and so its fun to compete.”
Her younger sister agreed.
“This is my first year doing any sport other than dance and it was pretty fun,” said Bella Weeks. “My sister is the one who got me involved, she made a lot of friends and had a really good time so I wanted to try it and I had a lot of fun too.”