Crescenta Valley High baseball players pitch in for annual Falcons Summer Baseball Camp

GLENDALE — With 100 kids hustling between 10 skill stations at the blow of a whistle, the Falcons Summer Baseball Camp ran like a fine-tuned machine.

“You know how we do things here,” camp creator and Crescenta Valley High baseball Coach Phil Torres said.

While the camp runs like clockwork, it doesn’t come without some actual work.

PHOTOS: Falcon Summer Baseball Camp at Stengel Field

“My high school kids are here every morning,” Torres said. “Sunday we spent about five hours just cleaning the park, mowing and watering because we want it nice when the campers come every morning and see it.”

The event serves as a fundraiser for the CV baseball program and nearly has a two-to-one camper-to-coach ratio. Around 40 current CV baseball players and a handful of other locals now at the collegiate level pitched in, including St. Francis graduate Mark Saatzer (Chapman University) and former Falcons Matt Ashby (University of La Verne) and Dustin Emmons, who went on to play at UC Riverside and in the New York Mets minor league organization.

For incoming juniors at Crescenta Valley Jimmy Smiley and Brett Klein, serving as player-coaches at the camp the past three years has been a full-circle experience after attending for about three years.

“It was great just coming here, being in the camp, getting to know all the coaches,” said Klein of being a three-time camper, “and then being able to come back and work it with all the same coaches, it’s a great thing to do.”

Campers, ages 7 to 13, learned baseball fundamentals in the fourth annual summer camp, which ran Monday through Thursday at Stengel Field. Drills ranged from hitting, fielding, pitching and agility.

“I learned how to dive, I learned how to catch fly balls and I learned how to catch, very fun,” said 7-year-old Lulu Arzoumanian, a second grader at Lincoln Elementary who attended the camp for her first year.

Thursday was a chance for the campers to display what they’d learned throughout the week, as every skill station — from the batting cage, pitching mound, infield and outfield — was turned into a competition with winners receiving a cold Gatorade on the summer day.

There were also guest speakers at each day of the camp to inspire the youngsters. Those included club soccer coach Reggie Rivas, Glendale Community College baseball Coach Chris Cicuto, former Vaquero and current UCLA basketball player Sooren Derboghosian and college football players Andrew Elffers (Maranatha, Azusa Pacific University) and Taylor Lagace (Arcadia, UCLA) Thursday.

“It’s been super good, I love it here,” said Logan Freeman, 7, who liked the camp competitions best of all.

The second grader at Franklin Elementary said he hopes to one day follow in Smiley and Klein’s footsteps and become a baseball player at Crescenta Valley.

“I come to like two or three baseball games [every year],” Freeman said. “I think it’s really cool [learning from Crescenta Valley players].”

Those players went through some busy days to make the camp run. They came to Stengel around 8 a.m. each day to prep the field before the campers arrived at 9 a.m. When the camp ended at noon, the players hit the weight room with the baseball team for an hour and a game later that night.

For a few Falcons like Brian Gadsby and Joe Torres who also juggle football, it’s an even busier day.

“I actually got to sleep in before this week, but then right away you’ve got to go to baseball, run to football and sometimes passing leagues or baseball games,” Gadsby said. “It’s been busy, but it’s fun with all these sports, I get a kick out of it.”

On Thursday, Gadsby showed up to Stengel early and then participated in an 11-on-11 football scrimmage with Hart at 2:45 p.m. and a summer baseball game at 5:30 p.m.

“I have good instructors … my high school kids are out here working,” Phil Torres said. “It’s a fundraiser, so it’s good they’re doing the work.”

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