ROCKINGHAM — Anthony Hailey, with the help of family and friends, hosted his second annual All S.T.A.R. Academy Baseball Training Camp at the Rockingham Middle School baseball field on Saturday.
Over the span of four hours, 22 campers — ranging from the age of six to 14 — learned proper throwing mechanics and hitting techniques, and how to better their footwork and hand-eye coordination through a number of drills.
One of the most important skills taught at the camp, however, was how to correctly field the ball at every position on defense. Whether in the infield or the outfield, Hailey says, it’s crucial for players to understand the importance of “not false stepping” when getting a good read on the ball and opening up their hips when changing directions.
“Fielding is one of the main parts of baseball,” Hailey explained. “You’ve got to be able to keep the ball in front of you and field it cleanly, so we had a few drills set up for that. And they seemed to be learning and catching on quick to them.
“I just want them to work hard and give 110 percent — it doesn’t matter if they mess up,” he added. “If they’re going hard and putting forth the effort, that’s what I like to see … You have to enourage each kid.”
There were half-a-dozen stations set up around the field that all focused on one skill at the same time — with each group switching to the next station after about 10 minutes of work — before moving on to another skill.
Helping out throughout the day were Hailey’s father, Anthony Hailey, Sr., his brothers, Jonathan and Josh Hailey, and a couple good friends in Willie Baldwin, who helps out with the Parks and Recreation Department in Hamlet, C.J. Lyons and Drew Gregory. His fiance, Tanyieka Gale, also helped out with the camp’s registration.
“They were all very important because I couldn’t do it all by myself,” Hailey added.
As the All S.T.A.R. Academy — an organization he created with Cameron Wright Hairston — and its camp continues to grow, Hailey is looking to introduce the game of baseball to more young athletes in the surrounding areas.
He understands that baseball moves slower than other sports, but “it’s fun once you get out here and learn the game.”
And even if they don’t pursue a playing career on the diamond, Hailey wants each kid in the organization to walk away with an appreciation for sportmanship, training, academics and respect (S.T.A.R.).
“I just encourage everybody to come try it out next year,” he said, “and hopefully we’ll all grow with it.”
Hailey, a former baseball player at Richmond Senior High School and Elizabeth City State University, says he’s looking to hold the camp at different middle schools around the county in the coming years.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.