By Nicole Heubusch
Young sportsmen gathered at North Brandon Youth Baseball for the fourth annual Sweet Swingin’ Baseball Camp, hosted by Tampa Bay Rays’ outfielder, Matt Joyce. Held at North Brandon Youth Baseball, this camp is open for player’s age 5-12. The camp features different professional baseball players working with kids on the fundamentals of the game.
Joyce, born and raised in Seffner, played ball at North Brandon for five years and claims that it’s a big part of why he decided to start his camp.
“Working with the kids in my hometown helps to keep me grounded and I like being able to leave the place I came from an even better place,” he explained.
The kids are divided into groups based on age and rotated around the fields after working on a particular skill. Other professional players joined Joyce, including fellow Rays David Price and Alex Cobb. The two led the pitching drills while other pros helped the kids with batting, catching and throwing. After going through each rotation, the day ended in scrimmages. Joyce made his way around the fields, jumping into every game to make sure he got to work with each team. The professional and youth players had the chance to enjoy themselves during the camp.
Working with major leaguers is a rare opportunity and the players are often idols for the kids. While Joyce looked up to such greats as Ken Griffey, Jr., the children that gathered at North Brandon had the chance to say they learned from the best. Joyce ended the day explaining to the players about his values of hard work and discipline. He hopes the young boys will continue to strive toward their goals and to enjoy what they do.
Joyce will continue into the off season with a light schedule, working on speed and strength with a personal trainer. “I like to keep it simple,” he explained about his workouts. “I want to have a good routine and keep it.” North Brandon Youth Baseball is located at 2915 N. Kingsway Rd. in Seffner. For more information, e-mail northbrandonCR@gmail.com.