Whitesboro – Thanksgiving came a few days early for the softball players who took part in Accelerate Sports’ Fall Into Winter clinic. The Whitesboro indoor sports facility hosted a day-long event for girls of all ages Saturday and 75 took part. And all were thrilled to have former All-American and NCAA champion pitcher Jackie Traina of Alabama.
“I thought it was awesome,” Utica Notre Dame senior pitcher Rachel Caswell said during a break in the action. “It was fun hearing advice from one of the best pitchers in the world. It was areal fun experience, one that I’ll probably never have again. And it was the best coaching staff a clinic could have.”
Accelerate Sports manager Bryan Ingalls assembled a staff of 20 instructors to complement Traina and they had players and their parents riveted for the day.
“They were really excited to see her,” Valerie Daciw said of the reaction her 14-year-old daughter Emily had along with her friends at meeting Traina. “She’s very down-to-earth.”
The Angelica, New York resident drove about four hours so her daughter could learn some pitching tips from the staff and she was thrilled with the results.
“Confidence is the big thing,” Daciw said of what Emily learned. “Emily has followed (Traina).”
As has Corning 12-year-old Kalea Faulk, though she is a catcher/infielder.
“Jackie Traina has been her favorite since she started liking softball,” Holly Faulk, Kalea’s mom, said. “(And) her Bandits coach Audrey Rijo is here. It’s been great. She (also) got to work with the Syracuse coach on catching. There’s a lot of knowledge here.”
The players rotated through different stations during the day. Some attended one session, others two, and some chose to do all three sessions. The November 21 clinic began at 9:30 a.m. with pitching, catching and hitting drills and instruction and went for two hours. After a short break, hitting and defense were the topics covered and there was a meet and greet session with the pitcher and catcher instructors. There was a similar session in the afternoon with the meet and greet being with the hitting instructors.
The day ended with a recruiting seminar for those interested.
Girls at each age level took plenty of great advice home to work on.
“It’s really a mental game,” 15-year-old Jessica Klem of Richfield Springs said. “You have to keep confident. Jackie says everybody has the potential to be really good.”
“I learned to stay confident and in the game,” Caswell added about the mental side of pitching Traina and the others stressed. “Don’t let bad plays get you down.”
Even the instructors learned a few things.
“I didn’t just come to instruct but to learn,” Holland Patent varsity coach Dennis Williams said. “That’s what it’s all about. I thought it was a great clinic.”
As did Traina.
“I was really appreciative to be up here with the staff and the girls,” the Naples, Florida resident said, “I’m appreciative because I didn’t have as many of these when I was younger. Now you do, and there’s a lot more giving back to the game. I’m excited how it’s grown.
“And it was a great turnout in a great facility. It made it easy.”
“It was great how smooth it went,” Accelerate’s manager said. “The instructors did it all. I didn’t have to do anything. It was great how they could relate to the girls, and how they related their knowledge. It was good to see.”