Commitment Baseball School, a summer baseball camp, has become a staple in the Highland County community over the past 15 years. The camp was founded in 2002 when Whiteoak High School’s head baseball coach Chris Veidt decided that it was time for the community to have a baseball camp to teach younger children the fundamentals of the game in a non-competitive environment.
Veidt took the time to talk about the origins of the camp on Wednesday and said, “A lot of coaches in the area, myself included, just felt like there was a real need for fundamental breakdown that kids weren’t getting. I was fortunate enough to have helped a lot of college coaches, when I was younger, at some camps. I was able to pick up on a lot as well as incorporating some of the things that we do at Whiteoak. We just want to make the kids more fundamentally solid. “
Veidt also said, “Our first summer we just did one camp here a Shaffer Park to see how it would go. We had ten kids, but we had fun with it and we said we would try it again next year. Two years later we had one in Wilmington, and we have also done schools in Peebles and Xenia as well. The staples have been Wilmington and Hillsboro. Quite frankly, Highland County geographically where it sits and the county being a pretty strong baseball community we have huge turnout here.”
When asked what motivated other coaches to approach him with the idea Veidt said, “When we first started doing these I had just finished my five year stint as the coach of the Legion team here in Hillsboro and I had been coaching Whiteoak high school for 10-11 years. With my wife being pregnant at the time it was hard to do a combined 80 game schedule with the Legion and the high school. The visibility of those two positions in the community enabled me to just kind of fall into the position after giving up coaching Post 129. I approached Dick Shaffer, who thought it was a great idea, and he was very instrumental in getting things started. It kind of just grew from there.”
Children who attend the camp have the opportunity to learn a variety of baseball fundamentals during the five day event. Coach Veidt pointed out that he and his coaches try to incorporate each days’ lessons into the mini-games that they play during the last 30 minutes of every session. Veidt said, “Throughout the course of the day we do things without balls, with balls, without bats, with bats, and slow motion things. We try to incorporate things that we have worked on during the day in our games at the end of the sessions to give ourselves reference points for the kids moving forward in the week.”
The money that is raised during the annual camps is used to pay the coaches that help instruct kids at the camps, help with my program at Whiteoak, and a portion is donated to the recreation commissions where the camps are held.
Veidt indicated that he wants to continue to offer the camps for the foreseeable future by saying, “I will continue to do this stuff as long as the kids like to come and have fun and get better. We have a great turnout here in Hillsboro with a great bunch of kids with a great bunch of parents that are willing to learn. There really nothing in the area to help kids with their skills and fundamentals. I’m gonna keep doing it as long as there is interest and my health allows me to do it. Once I can’t do it anymore I hope that someone else takes over. It’s just like the program that the late Dick Shaffer created here, he started it and he was instrumental for years and now Bruce Davis has taken it over and kept it going. We just try to pay it forward, its all about the kids and its all about the game.”
“Baseball is my passion. When you are young and just getting started it all about the sport and the game, just loving it. Once you are around young kids that have that passion and interest that passion grows not just within the game, but within the kids. To me there is no better reward than seeing a kids eyes light up when they get that first hit or score that first run.” Veidt said.
Commitment Baseball School has played a large roll in the development of the baseball product presented each spring on the diamonds throughout Highland County. Veidt estimated that about half of the students that participate in local high school baseball and softball programs have participated in at least one of the camps in their lifetime.
Veidt ended by saying, “I appreciate all the support that we have gotten from Hillsboro recreation and the support that Dick Shaffer always gave us and its great to see Bruce Davis continue to carry that torch as well. This is a great program here in Hillsboro. I’m not sure people realize what they have. You don’t have recreation facilities like this and possibilities like this in all communities and the people of Highland County are very lucky to have it.”
Commitment Baseball School will hold the second session of the camp next week June 12-16 at Williams Park in Wilmington.
Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.