Gophers new and old find enjoyment in camps

The team’s annual summer camps for young players began the final round of sessions Monday. The camps give hundreds of players a chance to learn the game of baseball from some of Minnesota’s most talented players and gives them access to Division I athlete

A beautifully groomed Siebert Field provided the perfect setting for the Gophers’ annual baseball summer camps Monday.

During the four-day camp, Gophers players and coaches showcased the game to players of different ages.

“We teach them the fundamentals,” current Gophers outfielder Brooks Albrecht said. “It’s easy to overload them so we want to make sure they take away a couple things they can remember and practice.”

The camps – rookie, advanced, skills and games and elite – give hundreds of players a chance to learn from some of Minnesota’s most talented players.

While the rookie camp teaches basic fundamentals, the elite camp focuses more on the mental aspects of baseball.

Players are taught the same things as Gophers players, Gophers’ pitching coach Todd Oakes said – the same cutoffs, relays, pitching, and hitting fundamentals.

Elite players are also given a video tape of themselves playing at the end of camp. Gophers’ coaches use voiceover technology to describe visible strengths and weaknesses.

But Gophers players and coaches agree fundamentals are not what they want players to take away from the camps.

“I want players to have fun playing baseball,” Albrecht said. “I enjoy seeing kids who have been here before and have met other players and are now friends because of this.”

It is important for players to learn that they can improve with hard work, former Gopher Luke MacLean said.

The elite camp also gives high school players an opportunity to experience life on campus.

While in camp, they are housed and fed in Sanford Hall, and given access to the Gophers locker room, weight room, video room and more.

Players have a lot of fun living on campus and experiencing what life is like at the University, Oakes said.

Camps like this are becoming scarce, though.

More and more college programs are moving away from camps open to everyone and creating showcase events designed for scouting talent, Oakes said.

The Gophers, however, see the camps as a unique opportunity.

“It shows kids and the community we care,” MacLean said.

The camps build excitement about the team, Albrecht said. It sends the message that the fans are appreciated.

Oakes sees these camps as a way to introduce people to Gophers baseball and for players to benefit along the way.

“It’s better than a real job,” Albrecht said. “I get to come out here and play baseball.”

Gophers sign Ryan

The Gophers announced last week that Sam Ryan of Tartan High School has signed a national letter of intent to play for the program.

In his senior season, he was named First-Team All-State, All-Conference, and All-Metro after batting .485 with nine home runs and 25 RBIs.

Ryan was drafted in the 35th round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Minnesota Twins.