Summer baseball in Colorado for players of high school age is still the same but in some ways very different. That might sound contradictory, but it is not. Development is still the main reason why …
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Summer baseball in Colorado for players of high school age is still the same but in some ways very different.
That might sound contradictory, but it is not.
Development is still the main reason why young athletes spend their summers playing baseball. However, many players are not playing with their high school teammates, but rather joining club teams or organizations that on many occasions travel to out-of-state tournaments.
“Everybody played for their high schools back in the day but nobody hardly does now,” said Cherry Creek coach Marc Johnson. “We’re one of the few high school teams around the state in the summer. Most kids play at the club level.
“The teams are better now. They are better than the high school teams because they get the better kids out of each high school.”
Most summer baseball divides the players into age groups from U9 to U18.
The Slammers team has two locations. The south facility is in Arapahoe County and the north is in Broomfield.
Development and instruction remains the main reason for playing summer baseball.
“Our facilities are for 8-year-olds to 14,” said Jeff Jenkins, the Slammers GM.“We’re just a training facility. We also coach and train high school teams.
“Winning is a byproduct of development. But what changed the landscape is not facilities, travel and all that, it was the parents and the kids.
“Parents think their kids can play in the MLB when they are five years old. Crazy stuff. Dad coaches don’t understand how difficult it is to get into college or the major leagues. Our philosophy here is just we want to make better ball players that can be varsity contributors at the high school.”
Summer baseball can be expensive, especially for teams that travel. Time magazine wrote an article a few years ago that said youth sports was a $15.3 billion industry with all the coaching, travel and apps included.
It could cost around $3,000 a season to play summer baseball depending on the organization and team.
“It’s expensive and they travel a lot too,” added Johnson. “In the old days, it took everything you could do to get guys to play.”
Jenkins added, “We preach academics, good citizenship and we also preach getting better at what you are paying money for, which is baseball.”
The Slammers are one of several baseball clubs in the south metro area. Some of the others are Gameday Baseball in Parker, USA Prime Baseball in Littleton, Lighting Baseball in Parker and Line Drive Baseball in Castle Rock.
“It is what it is,” said Johnson. “It’s changed a lot. It’s more club baseball than it is school baseball. The only thing the schools have any advantage now is we have the fields.”
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