Chris Rose knows how to build a winner.
In five seasons as head coach at Meridian Community College, Rose won 67 percent of his games and led the Eagles to MACJC State Championships in 2008 and 2006 and a NJCAA Region 23 Championship in 2009.
Rose has instilled that winning mentality in two seasons as coach at East Mississippi C.C. Now Rose and his coaches are branching out to teach some of the lessons they have learned over the years to younger players.
On Wednesday, Rose was at Propst Park in Columbus for the first day of a three-day youth baseball camp. The event, designed for players ages 7 to 14 years old, is the first of two camps EMCC will hold in Columbus. The Lions will close the month July 30-31 with an Elite Hitting/Pitching Camp at a cost of $125. That camp, like the one this week, will run from 9 a.m. to noon.
“The more talented baseball players we can have in the area and the more guys we can have from the area who can contribute, the better off we will be in terms of chemistry and the whole deal,” Rose said. “The community will support a team that has more guys that they know. … I think anytime you can start teaching and reaching out into the community and making it important, the better off your program is going to be.”
Rose said he and his coaches will teach the same approach they use in college. He said the drills, instruction, and activities will be designed for the campers to have fun, but he said the training will be intense and that the players will learn a lot about the game of baseball. He said his goal is to make the camp in Columbus an annual event.
To make that happen, Rose would love to work with as many players. He understands every family might not have the resources to invest in multiple camps, but he encouraged baseball players in the Columbus area to come out because he won’t turn anyone away who wants to improve and to work hard.
Former University of Alabama baseball coach Jim Wells served as an assistant coach with Rose this past season. Rose retired in 2009 as the school’s all-time winningest baseball coach (625) and with 817 victories to his credit in 20 years as a head coach.
Wells also was on hand Wednesday to work with the campers. He said he remains passionate about a game that has been a big part of his life for so many years. Like Rose, he stressed the importance of having fun and for players to learn in a fun environment to help keep them involved.
Wells said he helped coach his son’s 9-year-old All-Star baseball team after he retired from Alabama. He said he noticed everyone associated with the team was so serious and appeared to have lost the idea baseball needs to be fun and that it isn’t about worrying if baseball is going to help your son get a scholarship to college. He said he saw a lot of players who might have had experiences like that because too many players were “burned out” by the time they reached college.
“It always starts with the basics,” Wells said. “You have to teach the game and the basics of the game and teach it in a manner within the framework of your camp so it is fun for the kids. Coach Rose and his staff have a nice plan for teaching the roots of the game and the fundamentals and for the young kids to have a good time.”
Rose agrees coaches and parents need to keep the game fun, which is what he and his coaches will do this week and at the end of the month when they return to Columbus.
“There is no right way to do everything,” Rose said. “But within hitting there are three or four things we term as absolutes that if you were to watch a good Little League hitter or a Major League hitter, there are three or four body positions they get into that everybody needs to be in. What they do before and after that is their deal.
“There are certain facets of the game in the throwing mechanic, catching a baseball, fielding a baseball, or in hitting that everybody has to do. At the age group we’re in — and every age group — it has to be fun. There is a time in college when it becomes a grind and work, but at this age group, this camp does need to be fun, and they’re going to have fun. I also am a firm believer guys have more fun when they’re better at the game, when they’re more confident, when they want the groundball hit to them instead of being scared to death that it be hit to them. … I think they young men who leave this camp will leave more confident when they came and they will have more fun playing, and they will be better at it.”
For more information about the camps, contact Rose at 662-476-5343 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can contact assistant coach Eric House at 662-476-5067 or email@example.com.
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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