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Southwest camp allows local youths to learn from role models

December 29, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN

Sports Writer

When Southwest High School baseball player Joey Clayton was 12, he attended a few baseball camps and clinics to better himself in the sport.

Clayton is now 16 and a junior at Southwest, but four years ago he was attending the camps and looking up to the high-schoolers working with him.

Now the roles are reversed. Clayton has become the teacher and is one of the players who local youngsters look up to and are learning from.

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On Friday, the Southwest High baseball team wrapped up its fourth annual baseball camp with Clayton and his teammates teaching local players the fundamentals of the sport.

"This was something that I volunteered to do because I like working with kids and teaching more about baseball," said Clayton, who plays second base and pitches for the Eagles. "I think it's important that we're out here teaching them because they do look up to us and we're kind of like role models for them.

"I know back when I was going to camps I looked up to those guys in high school. My brother, Cory, was playing at Imperial and they were putting on camps and I would go to those," said Clayton. "I just really looked up to him and I learned a lot from him and the other guys at those camps."

Clayton said at the time he just wanted to learn more about how to improve his own game. Because he was so wrapped up in improving his techniques, it never dawned on him that one day he might be in the position to teach others the skills he had learned.

While that may have been the same case for most of the 46 players at Southwest's camp this year, 12-year-old Mike Monge of Calexico said teaching younger players in the future is definitely something he's thought about.

"I think it's important that we're learning from high school players right now because I know when I get into high school, I'll probably be teaching kids too," said Monge. "They were teaching me the proper way to throw a curve and that's really been helpful. I know when I get older that's something I'm going to want to teach kids."

The main purpose of the camp is to teach younger players around the Valley basic fundamentals of baseball and to develop experienced players' skills. But for Southwest coach Mickey Carter, the camp gives his own players an opportunity to give back to the community.

"The primary reason for this, to me, is because I want my high school players exposed to working with these younger kids," said Carter. "Our players understand why they're here and they understand that it's for a good reason.

"They know that kids around the Valley do look up to them and go to high school games to watch them. I know I looked up to high school players when I was a kid," Carter said. "So all these guys out here know that they are role models for these kids."

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