Baseball is usually fun for head baseball coach Ritch Price.
But during the summer camps the KU baseball program hosts, like at last weeks Super Skills camp, the young players' raw excitement for the baseball reminds him just how fun baseball can be.
"The energy they bring is contagious," said Price, who just finished his third season heading up the Jayhawk baseball team.
The four-day camp, which started on Thursday, helped about 125 players hone their skills both in the field and at the plate. The camp focused on having fun while improving players' basics skills.
"We want them to equate fun with the game of baseball," Price said.
KU assistant coaches Ryan Graves and Kevin Tucker and other area coaches helped to provide a competitive, yet fun atmosphere for players.
Fun is something that Price thinks is important to stress to young players.
"We want them to enjoy the game more than when they got here," Price said. "That's going to carry over through high school."
Half of the camp, three hours each day, is focused on instruction - something that the coaches feel is key. The players Price usually coaches at Hoglund Ballpark are usually about 10 years older than the campers, but the instruction Price gave to the 9- to 12-year-olds stems from the same base.
Price said the runs the same hitting and fielding drills that stress fundamentals with his Division I college players.
During the other half of the camp, campers get the opportunity to scrimmage on the Hoglund Ballpark field. Since many of the campers at the Super Star camp are from around the Kansas City-Lawrence region, they are familiar with the KU baseball program and find playing on KU's field to be an appealing component of the camp.
"They come to the games and watch players at the University of Kansas play on the same field they are playing on," Price said. "They love the fact that they get to play on the field at Hoglund ballpark."
The Super Skills camp serves as a precursor for the All-Star camp, a recruiting showcase for high school students hosted by the KU baseball program July 30 through Aug. 3.
The two camps follow the same format, but the Super Star camp focuses on development of the younger players, while the All-Star camp gives players more of a chance to demonstrate their skills to top college and high school coaches from across the country.
The All-Star camp is an opportunity for older players in high school to not only showcase their talents, but also be evaluated by Division I coaches, who coach each team at the All-Star camp and lead instruction in various defensive and offensive aspects of the game.
Price expects 150 players from more than 20 states to attend the All-Star camp. Campers play one nine-inning game, participate in three hours of instruction and learn more about playing baseball at the collegiate level at workshops throughout the camp. At the end of the All-Star camp, players receive an evaluation from a Division I coach explaining their strengths and weaknesses as well as an assessment of what level their baseball skills would take them to.
"We want players who come to our camps to have the best experience in America," Price said.
For both the Super Skills and the All-Star camp, Price and his staff do their best to provide a positive setting for baseball no matter what the age.