Baseball academy holds clinic for Raider Nation players
About 250 boys and girls from Hastings received baseball instruction on Sunday from a two-time World Series champion.
As part of a Raider Nation baseball clinic, former Minnesota Twin Al Newman visited Hastings and he helped instruct at the clinic.
"The parents were definitely more excited than the kids, at first," said Ryan Seleski, a Hastings man who helped organized the clinic. "We rotated the coaches through the stations. Al's station was definitely the most popular. The coaches wanted to get down there and rub elbows a little bit."
Questions from the youths at the camp tended to focus a bit more on current Twins, Seleski said.
"I know that when my son started talking to Al, he was asking him, 'So you played with Joe Mauer?'" Seleski said.
Newman was coaching with members of the Minnesota Baseball Academy. The academy was hired by Raider Nation to instruct at the clinic.
Students ranging in age from 6 to 12 were served at the clinic. Players were able to attend for free.
"In the past, we've had moms and dads running the clinics," Seleski said. "We really believe that with our registration fees and the support we get from the business community, that money should go back into baseball. We had a good year fundraising last year through our golf tournament and some of the things we do with the YMCA. We had some money, and we were looking for ways to invest it back in the kids.
"When you have an opportunity to bring in some of the best instruction you can get in the Midwest, we're going to take advantage of that."
Hastings Hawks player Adam Barta founded the baseball academy, and several of his fellow Hawks players and Raider Nation leaders know him well. Those relationships helped make the clinic a possibility.
"They definitely understood that we're not made of money," Seleski said. "We don't have a money tree. They were phenomenal."
Helping organize the clinic with Seleski were Ben Peine, Bart Shanks, Brian Davis and Jim Meier.
The camp was also beneficial for the numerous coaches who volunteer their time with the Raider Nation program.
"Not every one of our coaches is a school teacher, so just seeing how these guys interact with the kids was great," Seleski said.
Volunteers got to see how the drills are run and they picked up valuable pointers, Seleski said.
A coaching clinic is planned for this spring, too.
Sunday's clinic at the middle school was the third week of instruction. Two pitching clinics remain on the schedule.
Raider Nation baseball serves Hastings-area boys and girls ages 4 to 12.
About 500 area youths were in Raider Nation last summer. The program runs from mid-May into early August.
For more information, visit www.raidernationbaseball.com.