Mavericks teach youth at Little League spring training camp

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT) It's every kids dream to be a professional baseball player.

"I want to play pitcher," said Bode Hawkins.

And CMU baseball is here to help with that dream.

"This is a tradition that we've started a long time ago," coach Sean McKinney said. "It's such a great experience to have the kids of the valley come out and be with all of our players and be really learn the game of baseball. Any time that we have an opportunity to give back to the community, is great. And spend some time in the beautiful weather."

The Mavericks have run this tradition for more than 18 years and the most fun activity today.

"I learned how to slide," said Drake Johnson.

"Sometimes, you get stuff in your face and i like it," Hawkins said.

But there is more to this camp than just learning fundamentals and improving their skills.

"There's a lot more options for little kids these days then when we grew up," coach Steve Woytek said. "For them to be out here having fun with baseball when they can be at other places as young kids, is awesome."

For newcomer parents like Keesha, it's events like these that give her son, Elias, life lessons.

"Always give a hundred percent in everything you're doing and to go out there and have a good attitude," said Keesha Lane.

And still have fun.

"I think it's cool for them to come here and play with actual baseball players."

In Tyler Sandoval's four years, the Mavericks catcher finds this camp rewarding each time.

"They've taught me how to have fun," said CMU senior catcher Sandoval. "Every single day, it gets stressful trying to compete and stuff, you forget about what you started with and then you come to these kids and they're just have all this fun."

It even brought back memories.

"Oh yeah, it brought back one," said Sandoval. "The first time we had a camp, we were sliding, I slide on turf and I had a big rash on my leg. It was a blast."

The kids even let me get in on the fun, but it didn't go very well for me.

And when I asked what their favorite part about going to a baseball game was?

"When you catch a foul ball," said Johnson.

Not everyone was on board.

"No, I just don't have time," Hawkins said.

They even said next year, they'd bring some friends.

"I would tell them to go and they'd get on TV," said Johnson. "They would probably go."

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