- June 5, 2019
When Kole Enright steps onto the fields at Winter Garden Little League, all the memories rush back to him.
On those fields is where he started his journey into baseball all those years ago.
Now, as a member of the Minor League’s Hickory Crawdads — the Single-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers — he’s looking at giving back to the organization and those who helped him achieve his dream by putting on the second annual Kole Enright Baseball Clinic.
“I had some great years (there),” Enright said. “At that age, it’s such a fun thing; Little League is really about going out there (and) having a good time. A lot of times parents are involved, and you have those moments where your dad coaches you — I know my dad coached me a lot.
“In fact, part of the event is that I get to do it with my dad,” he said. “My dad gets to help me with it, and he gets to see what he helped create, as well. It’s kind of a family thing, at least between my dad and I specifically, but even my mom helped last year.”
At 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, Enright and dozens of coaches will take time to teach young baseball players — ages 6 to 14 — the ins and outs of the game.
Last year in the clinic’s first run, Enright saw 70 kids sign up to take part in the event, but this year it has exploded to 113 registered players. Luckily for Enright, he has tons of help.
This year, around 25 different coaches are volunteering their time to helping teach, and several of them are professional ballplayers. Right now, guys like West Orange grad and Crawdads teammate Chris Seise is on board to help, as well as Ben DeLuzio (TFA grad, center fielder in the Arizona Diamondbacks farm system) and Dash Winningham (an Ocala native who plays in the New York Mets farm system).
When Enright asked DeLuzio about possibly coming by to help, the answer was a quick “yes.”
“Honestly, I thought it was a great idea, because it’s really hard to give back, but then when you think about doing a camp like that it is pretty easy when all you have to do is give these kids your time,” Winningham. “I’ve been playing baseball my whole life and I’d like to say I have gained a lot of good experience and a lot of bad experience, and I want to be able to talk to the kids about both of my experiences.”
While the coaches will be teaching kids the fundamentals of baseball — including things like proper stretching, batting techniques and so forth — one of the biggest things that players like DeLuzio are hoping to offer up is that experience playing the sport for a living.
Baseball is a tough game that gets tougher as you keep going higher and higher, DeLuzio said. For young players who are hoping to make it to The Bigs, it’s good for them to understand that it’s not always glamorous like you might think — it requires a lot of work.
“You don’t really understand the grind until you’re thrown into it,” DeLuzio said. “I would never lie to someone and say it isn’t a grind — you’re going to have to love baseball and that competitive nature of it. But honestly, I wouldn’t trade it for the world, because it has helped shape me into the person that I am today.”
Getting the chance to hear about and learn the game from the perspective of a professional player is a big bonus for bringing in other Minor Leaguers, Enright said. But more than that, it offers a chance for young, aspiring baseball players to meet their heroes.
“Kids love getting a few autographs from a few guys who are in a position they want to be in,” Enright said. “Ben and Adam were there last year and that’s just really cool for (the kids). We could easily do whatever baseball activities we do, but at the end of the day — even the coaches who help know — the really cool thing for them is to be able to touch hands with a professional ballplayer.”