Aiming for fences

The Chicago White Sox are coming
back to Cayman this month and the time to sign up to gain instruction from the
big leaguers is now.

This Saturday 9 October marks the
sign-up session for the upcoming BullSox Training Academy seminar. Youngsters
between the ages of seven and 15 can come by the Field of Dreams facility in
George Town between 10am and 1pm.

Put on by the White Sox in conjunction
with the Cayman Islands Little League, the camp takes place 25-29 October
8.30am to 3pm. Costs for the camp see CI$125 per child and CI$75 for siblings.
Members of the White Sox coaching staff are slated to be in attendance. In
years past a number of White Sox personalities were on-island including
pitching coach Don Cooper.

Paul Gallagher is little league’s
competitive programs director and one of the chief organizers of the camp
(alongside little league president Jim Partham). Gallagher, who is in his first
stint on the board, states the camp is about harvesting hidden talent.

“We’re trying to pull kids into
little league baseball,” Gallagher said. “We in Cayman have athletic kids that
play basketball and soccer and we in little league would like to see them on
the baseball field.”

News of this month’s camp comes
after an interesting summer of international competitions. A group of 14-18
year-old little leaguers went to Miami for an invitational event, a quartet of
youngsters in the Under-16 category excelled at the annual Chicago White Sox
Skills Challenge in Chicago and a host of the island’s brightest 11 and 12
year-olds represented Cayman in Puerto Rico for the 2010 Little League World
Series Caribbean regional qualifiers.

Gallagher states there are plans in
place to capitalize on those tournaments. “For starters we’re hoping to expand
the competitions in the program and have tournaments here throughout the year.
There may be a cost involved, depending on the fund-raising we do. We are
especially keen to expand on the Cayman team going away to Puerto Rico. I think
we can have 25-30 kids in each age group playing in similar competitions every
year. At this point we would simply like to expand the options for kids who
want to play competitively.”

To that end the league is in the
process of putting on a tournament program. A release from the league reads:
“We are introducing a tournament program for all children wishing to play
competitive baseball from November to May in addition to the traditional Little
League Season in February through to May. All children who sign up to play can
remain with the program through May and June.”

In addition a Fall Classic
tournament is planned for 6 November that would cater to all kids of all skill
levels. Like the White Sox camp this month the goal of that competition would
be to highlight little league baseball to locals. Gallagher talked about how
both initiatives fit into the current little league schedule.

“The Fall Classic at the Field of
Dreams would be open to every child in Cayman. Essentially any kid that signs
up would be on a team and the event is totally free for them. We did this last
year and it’s all about encouraging kids to come out and play ball.

“With the tournament program we’d
hope to have that run parallel to the existing regular season. Ultimately the
goal would be, with enough fund-raising, they can go off to represent Cayman.
Ideally it would be great to have the program school-based but most school kids
I find are playing other things like hockey right now.”

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