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Story Archives: Soileau passion for baseball continues
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|Soileau passion for baseball continues|
Chris Soileau put on his first camp at Vanderbilt Catholic High in 1984.
A lot has changed over those years, but not the kids.
"The parents have changed," Soileau said. "And a lot of people think the more games you play, the better you are going to get. The kids are playing way too many games now and not getting enough instruction. If a teacher gives you a text book and tells you next week there is going to be a test next Saturday, what is going to happen? The kids are going to say, 'The teacher never gave us any notes.'"
Soileau said a youngster who is a shortstop may not get a ball hit to him, or the best hitter on the team may go to a tournament in Baton Rouge and walk four times.
Anyone who has been to one of Soileau's camps - he held his 10th straight Mitch Ashmore Teach Me More Baseball Camp last week a Huntington - knows there is a whole lot of teaching going on.
I'm more intrigued every year with some of the neat hints, tricks and practice habits Soileau presents.
East Ascension coach Wayne Grenfield, a regular at Soileau's camps, had the older players standing at home plate, swinging their hands as if hitting the ball and running to first base.
To get the players in the habit of watching the ball off their bat, Grenfield stood on the pitcher's mound and held up a certain number of fingers on his left hand and then a certain number on his right hand.
The base runners had to call out how many fingers Grenfield held up on each hand as they were running to first base. After calling out the numbers, the runners would continue running hard, turning their heads toward the base.
Soileau said too many young men are playing tournament ball now and not attending camps or getting lessons.
"Check out the number of foreign guys playing Major League Baseball now," he said. "Kids are not getting the fundamentals. I had 80 kids at my first camp in Ferriday. We've got about 25 this year. There was a poll recently where 3,000 kids 13 to 15 years old were asked why they quit baseball. Some said the coach yells at them, some said they had a bad experience, some said playing time, but the number one answer was that they were not as good as they used to be."
"We are in a world of instant gratification," Ashmore said. "Baseball is a gradual thing that where you have to work, work, work, work work. Kids nowadays do not want to do that."
Soileau said there are about 250 current college baseball players now who have been a part of his camp or had lessons from him.
"Ryan Theriot, who played at LSU and is now a shortstop for the Chicago Cubs, came to four of my camps," he said. "This never gets old. It's always fun. You meet new people and get to see old friends like Mitch. And I learn something new each time. It's all about sharing baseball."
And you will have a hard time finding someone who does a better job of that than Soileau.
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