The East Ridge Parks and Recreation department has hosted free kids camps in baseball, softball and soccer this spring.
For the second consecutive year, East Ridge has had a corporate sponsor to bring professional baseball coaches to Camp Jordan for baseball camps.
In 2015, Dick’s Sporting Goods brought in the Baseball Factory to host a camp of more than 130 kids.
On Thursday April 7, Camp Jordan hosted the Chevrolet Youth Baseball/Ripken Experience Baseball Camp at no charge to the more than 145 players who signed up. The camp was sponsored by Integrity Chevrolet and made possible through the efforts of owner Dwight Morgan.
Parks and Recreation Director, Stump Martin, said he loved the concept of free camps for kids and Mr. Morgan has been a strong supporter of soccer and baseball at Camp Jordan.
“Dwight helped recreation soccer to raise money and provide needed equipment last fall and he brought the Chevrolet Youth Baseball/Ripken Experience Camp here this spring,” Martin said. “We have a lot of kids whose families can’t afford the price of special training. This allows our players to get the type training that is needed to improve their skills. When the Ripken crew was teaching the kids, the coaches were standing around learning too.”
East Ridge Parks and Recreation Athletic Coordinator, Shawnna Skiles, was overwhelmed by the professionalism and coaching abilities of the Ripken staff.
“They were awesome,” Ms. Skiles said. “All of the coaches who attended said it was great.”
Skiles said the free camp brought in recreation players from Lookout Valley and Boynton, as well as select players from the X-Posure organization.
“The Ripken people broke the players down into small groups where they could work better with the kids,” Ms. Skiles said. “All of our coaches who attended loved it.”
Former Boyd-Buchanan, Frost Falcons, Cleveland State and Tennessee Tech standout pitcher and hitter Christian Hudgens Pryor directed two free kids’ softball camps earlier in the spring.
Ms. Pryor and her husband Stephen, who pitched in Major League baseball with the Seattle Mariners and the Minnesota Twins, had camps on back-to-back weekends.
“I want the thank Christian, Stephen and the others who helped make these camps successful,” Martin said. “We have a lot of good coaches who played competitively in this area and have taken time to give back to make a difference.”
Chattanooga Futbal Club/East Ridge Futbal Club member Dean Wilson helped to organize free soccer clinics at Camp Jordan in March through the UT-Chattanooga Women’s team.
Chattanooga head coach, Gavin McKinney, who came to the Mocs soccer program from Cumberland University, directed the camp.
Camp Jordan soccer intern Kim Rodgers said it was evident that Coach McKinney had held clinics before.
“I thought Gavin was really good with the kids and knew what he was doing,” said Ms. Rodgers.
Martin said he is working with new East Ridge head football coach Tim James to hold a free football clinic in late July or early August.
“We already host free cheerleading and basketball clinics, and this year we will have dance teams for our youth football programs,” Martin said. “So, I’m sure we will have a free dance clinic too. Our parks and recreation staff is really proud of our sports programs and the many volunteers who help us to make them highly successful. ”