The last sport that comes to mind in December is baseball.
That mindset is the precise reason as to why Morton baseball coach Jesse Crawford and former Morton baseball star Will Headean held a camp Dec. 28-30 at the Brenkman Memorial Indoor Baseball Facility in Morton.
The camp, for kids in grades three through eight, was designed to get kids who play baseball a chance to work on fundamentals during the winter months.
In two different sessions, a total of 45 participants signed up for the camp.
“This camp is to help the kids get throwing again and work on their mechanics,” Crawford said. “Overall, it’s a great experience.”
“This is helping them get better in December when they could be at sitting at home doing nothing,” Headean added. “They get to ask questions and learn a little bit from people who know the game of baseball.”
Headean is currently training in Morton during the baseball offseason.
The left-handed pitcher was drafted in the 2015 Major League Baseball draft by the San Diego Padres, and is in the minor leagues with the organization.
For Headean, who played at Morton from 2008-12, the camp was an opportunity to give back to the community where he formed his love for baseball.
“I like working with kids and teaching them a few of the things that I know,” he said. “You can always learn from kids as well. They are out there having fun and it reminds me why I play the game.”
Crawford relishes the opportunity to have Headean at the camp, because it gives the kids someone to look to as a mentor.
“It is great to have a guy like (Headean) be here because he is still playing,” Crawford said. “The kids love to come out and work with him.”
Over the course of the three-day camp, the kids got to know Headean and get an idea of what it will take to play baseball at the next level.
“It wasn’t too long ago that (Headean) was playing for Morton and it is neat to see him go through the professional ranks,” Crawford said. “He is doing a great job of giving back to this community and he is really good working with the kids. “
As for Crawford, who is in his fifth year as baseball coach at Morton High School, the camp was an opportunity to meet the kids who aspire to play baseball at the high school level.
“One of my main goals when I first started was to develop a relationship with the little league programs,” Crawford said. “The relationship lets me get to know the kids, so that from third-12th grade level, I know every one of them.”
Winters in Illinois do not make for friendly baseball weather, but with the construction of the Brenkman Memorial Indoor Baseball Facility in 2005, Morton youngsters have a place to practice their craft.
“You look at California, Texas, Florida; those guys play all year long,” Headean said. “For us, being a cold-weather state, having a facility like this that kids can get out and work on getting better and developing their skills really helps a lot.”
Cameron Crawford, an 8-year-old from Morton that attended the camp, said he enjoyed the camp and liked being able to play baseball in the winter.
“The camp was awesome, we got to throw fastballs and really get the feel back of baseball,” he said. “(Headean) is really fun, he messes around with us a lot, but he teaches us a lot of mechanics too.”
With the baseball season still a few months away, the camp was an opportunity to get kids thinking about baseball again.
“It’s the end of December, so we know the baseball season is still a ways away,” Crawford said. “So if we can get the kids out there and pick up a few skills, then the camp was a success.”