Not even record heat or an approaching rainstorm could slow an excited group of very young athletes (ages 3 – 8) from having an incredible time during the first-ever AAU Proud Baseball initiative on June 16th.
The event took place as their older siblings competed in the 9u and 10u AAU Baseball Grand Nationals at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Their buttons were popping as they got to play on the same fields as their older brothers were battling for a national champion title.
Fittingly labeled as “Little Sluggers”, Tony Melendez of TM Baseball Academy in Orlando volunteered his time to run the hour-long clinic and attracted nearly a dozen boys and girls who were eager to learn how to hit, field, and run the bases.
They went through the same kind of drills as the elite athletes do when they train for a championship. It was a treat to watch such a young group so intently focused on the art of rounding bases, fielding ground balls, throwing to targets, and hitting to the infield and then to the outfield. It was clear there was already some baseball talent developing.
Coach Tony even took one 8-year-old player aside and quietly asked his name. He also spoke with his father. He told both the athlete and the father that the boy was going to “be somebody in baseball” if he kept it up and Coach Melendez “wanted to remember his name”. He said he was a natural athlete in general, but particularly in baseball.
As a reward for their participation, each little slugger received their own “AAU Proud” ribbon to take home with them to remember the fun they had with AAU Baseball. They happily snatched their ribbons and took off to show their prize to their waiting parents. We hope to see these emerging athletes competing on the field very soon in AAU events.
*AAU extends a special thanks to the coaching staff of the 9u Tomateros of California for their volunteer assistance to Coach Tony Melendez during the clinic. You guys were awesome!