Indian River’s D.J. Long hosts second annual baseball camp

GEORGETOWN – Indian River High head baseball coach D.J. Long put together a four-day baseball camp for a group of 20 middle school-aged players.

The second annual camp, running from Monday, June 18 through Thursday, June 21, reeled in baseball players from all over Sussex County – Milton, Cape, Millsboro, Georgetown, Lower Sussex.

“When I moved back down here after playing at University of Delaware I knew I wanted to do a few camps,” he said of the idea to start the camp. “I used to work camps all the time and I thought ‘I want to have one of my own.’ Last year I basically did all middle school-aged kids, so anywhere from fifth grade to ninth grade – kids going into middle school or just leaving. I teach at a middle school so it kind of works out well.”

Last year, the camp attracted 25 participants and was held at the Pyle Center. It was moved to Georgetown Little League this year, but remained a camp for middle-school aged players.

During the four days of instruction, Long and his camp assistants Danny Gatto and Diaz Nardo focused on teaching the fundamentals.

“The fundamentals were really our main focus,” he said. “We kind of did the same thing we did last year. It was a lot of stations in the morning.

“I have Danny Gatto, who played with me [at UD] and was a pitcher at Dover, and then Diaz Nardo who just finished up at Delaware this past year, helping me out,” he continued. “We kind of just broke it down – Nardo did hitting, I did infield and outfield stuff and then Gatto did all the pitching.”

Fielding-wise, Long focused on some of the things that he believes infielders don’t spend enough time working on.

“With my infield group we just went through the proper ways to field grounders, worked on double plays and how to throw on the run,” he said. “I feel like a lot of infielders don’t work on that enough. The majority of the time – especially if you’re playing short or third – you’re going to be throwing on the move a lot, so we worked on that. Also, we worked on how to be around the bag, both the shortstop and second base-side.

“Hitting-wise, we just kind of talked about approach, stance, loads. I tell a lot of the little guys that they need to develop some type of load, whether it’s a leg kick or something. You can’t really just go to a toe because you don’t have anything behind it.”

Gatto covers the pitching portion of the camp, teaching the kids a variety of fundamentals needed to take the mound such as balance and pick-off moves.

“They really seem to enjoy it. Every afternoon we did a little scrimmage, so they get to implement the new things they learned that morning,” said Long.

In addition to his camp, which he hopes to turn into an every-year event, Long travels up north to help with both UD camps as well.

“It’s pretty much what my summer consists of – whether it’s baseball camps, or umpiring – it’s all baseball, all summer,” he said. “I’m a teacher, I teach sixth grade, so I’m off all summer and it’s just something I like to do. I like having the kids come out, play some baseball and have some fun. They get to meet some new kids from different towns who are around the same age. They all seem to know each other already, but they enjoy it.”

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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