GLENDALE — Chase Smith was a participant at the Falcons Summer Baseball camp when he was 7 years old.
Now a senior on the Crescenta Valley High varsity baseball team, Smith has taken the basic skills he’s learned at the camp under the direction of Falcons coach Phil Torres and is passing it on to the younger generation as a camp counselor.
“It’s mandatory to yell ‘ribbit’ every time you jump,” yelled Smith to a group of kids as they went through warm-up drills with leapfrog exercises.
In the 10th edition of the annual Falcons Summer Baseball Camp at Stengel Field that began Monday and ended Thursday, 96 participants took part in eight activities designed to help players develop basic skills.
The camp includeed boys and girls age 7-13 from La Crescenta, Glendale, Sun Valley and La Cañada. This year, the camp also had one attendee from Simi Valley. Torres, who’s Falcons came off a CIF Southern Section Division II semifinal run last season, also holds a similar camp in the winter.
“We want them to have fun,” said Torres, who’s guided Crescenta Valley to 15 Pacific League championships and one CIF title. “The cool thing is that my high school kids are here, so they get to learn, too. It’s way better than selling candy.”
Activities ranged from catching fly balls, to the proper technique to field a ball, to pitching and hitting to playing games. Smith helped coordinate the activities alongside current and former players that included All-CIF Southern Section first-team honoree Will Grimm and former Falcons standout pitcher and former All-Area Baseball Player of the Year Trevor Beer. Other counselors included members of the Glendale Community College coaching staff.
“It’s a great camp to learn the fundamentals at a really young age,” Smith said. “They’re getting coach by guys in college, guys in high school, coaches that have been to the majors — all of that. There’s a lot of exposure.”
Campers are helped to develop skills the first two days of camp and utilize their knowledge later in the session in skills competitions that feature prizes. In the final day, players get the opportunity to take part in scrimmages.
“I want to learn hitting,” said Jackson Cicuto, 7, son of Glendale Community College Athletic Director Chris Cicuto. “Camp is fun because baseball is fun.”
After roughly 90 minutes of activities, the campers scattered for a quick break, where Torres called out raffle ticket numbers for prizes such as Crescenta Valley baseball socks, jerseys and T-shirts.
The camp counselors also recognized 8-year-old Asher Lee as the “Hustler of the Day” for his efforts in the field activities.
“It feels good,” Lee said. “My favorite activity today was diving because you get to grab the baseballs when you’re diving. I’m an outfielder, so it’s fun.”
Following the break, the camp welcomed Rancho Cucamonga Quakes manager Mark Kertenian, who answered questions about professional baseball. Kertenian and Torres also gave away Dodgers-affiliated raffle prizes.
“It’s awesome to have Mark [Kertenian] out because he played in Arcadia and here and we’re really proud to see what he’s doing with the Dodgers,” Torres said. “It’s nice for these guys, too, to see a someone like that can come out. It’s just fun to have all these guys come out here.”