USA Baseball National Team picks Fort Myers for training camp

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FORT MYERS, Fla. – Although the summer is winding down, the sweet sounds of America’s pastime are still echoing through Southwest Florida.

This week, USA Baseball has taken over the Lee County Sports Complex. The 18U National Team is hosting its training camp in Fort Myers ahead of the upcoming World Cup.

The tournament is returning to the United States for the first time since 1995. It will be held right here in the Sunshine State, in Bradenton and Sarasota. The coaching staff wanted to be close leading up to the tournament. So, they chose their old stomping grounds.

“With the rich Twins history on the staff, we all kind of cut our teeth here at this facility.” 18U National Team Manager Denny Hocking said. “We felt that it would be good for us to get back and bring a little nostalgia to it.”

Training camp is a combination of tryouts and practice. The athletes are working out, scrimmaging and getting skill work in.

“We want them to experience an incredible week of baseball,” Hocking said. “We really want to get our hands on them, teach them, coach them, give them discipline.”

There are over 40 players at training camp. The team is only allowed to bring 20 to the tournament. So, the coaching staff is currently evaluating the young men and will make a decision on their final roster by Friday night.

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“I’ve been trying to make this final roster for about three years now,” Team USA centerfielder Max Clark said. “Making this team would be an unimaginable feeling.”

One of the unique opportunities for the players at training camp is the experience of the coaching staff. The majority of the coaches played for Team USA before and at the collegiate and professional level.

“There are billions of years of experience out here,” Clark said. “If I could just come to this camp and have conversations with these people, I’d walk away with more than anything I’ve learned this entire summer.”

The exposure and skill training benefits are obvious, but most of the athletes are focused on making the team and having a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“To wear these three letters across your chest and represent something bigger than yourself just means the world to me,” Team USA infielder Stone Russell said.

With training camp almost wrapped up and the World Cup right around the corner, all of the players and coaches have their sights set on the same goal.

“There is nothing more than I want to be standing on that podium with a gold medal around my neck and our national anthem playing,” Clark said.

Tags: baseballFort Myerslee county sports complexUS Baseball National Team

 

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