Rays mascot Raymond poses with campers at the start of the day.

By Adam Musgrave

On January 29, North Brandon Little League hosted the second annual Matt Joyce Sweet Swingin’ Baseball Camp. The event, aimed at teaching kids fundamentals and developing their passion for the game, drew a crowd of more than 100 people.

The camp was open to children ages 7-14.

Joyce, who helped to found the event, said he is ecstatic about the camp and the community’s support. “Events like this are great for the kids,” he said. “It builds their passion and their love for the game.”

Throughout the day, participants received instruction on pitching and catching, hitting and how to avoid collisions and confrontation out on the field. The event culminated in a series of scrimmages that allowed campers to practice the skills that they learned earlier in the day.

The camp went from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. During those six hours, kids in attendance got to work with Joyce, Alex Cobb, former Tampa Ray player Grant Balfour and other players from around the league. Also assisting were local coaches from Plant City, Jefferson and Tampa Catholic high schools.

Proceeds from the camp will go to North Brandon Little League and will help with maintenance and upgrades to the park, according to Rob Turkett, vice president of the little league. “Events like this have huge benefits,” said Turkett. “They are a great help to the kids and they help our facilities too.”

North Brandon Little League is made up entirely of volunteers. It relies heavily on community involvement to continue its operations.

“I wanted to do something to help out my community,” said Joyce about the camp. “I love returning to where I came from. I love giving back.”

Joyce’s father said it was great to see that his son remembers where he came from. “It’s an awesome feeling knowing that he’s giving back. I’d expect nothing less from him.”

More than anything, Joyce said he is grateful for the support the community has given him.

North Brandon Little League is located at 2915 N. Kingsway Dr. in Seffner. Opening day for the league’s spring season will begin on Saturday, February 18.

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