For the past several years, Curtis alum and former Mariners draftee Aaron Trolia has been building baseball programs and camps throughout the year to help train local youth in the sport. By gaining the help and support of more local professional coaches and athletes, Trolia’s recent camps are continuing to gain popularity among local youth.
“It’s been unbelievable,” said Trolia after the morning session of his recent camp at Curtis on July 12 – a camp that once again featured Jon Kitna as a guest speaker along with Rainiers catcher Brandon Bantz and coach Brent Johnson as special instructors. “Those kids look up to those guys and want to be in their shoes, and they don’t quite understand what it really takes to get there.”
As has been the case with previous camps run by Trolia and former Curtis teammate and current Vikings head baseball coach Bryan Robinson, the main goal is to instill positive values in athletes through baseball drills and situations.
“It’s a loose atmosphere, we don’t run you through stations, we put you in game-like situations and want to see how you react, how you do,” Robinson said. “We like to think going forward, throughout not only this summer but going into next year and hopefully years down the road, that they can build off that. It’s really fun to see.”
A total of 75 players stretching from Seattle to Olympia attended the five-day camp from July 9-13, with Trolia and Robinson acting as pitchers during simulated games as they constantly instructed hitters and fielders.
Sprinkled in were the appearances of Kitna on July 10, Johnson on July 11 and Bantz on July 11-12, as all were instrumental in helping instruct and inform players.
“It’s just a different look than what kids are used to,” Trolia said. “Most kids don’t get a chance to get out there and get coached or instructed by a guy who’s actually played at higher levels.”
And Bantz was eager to help, remembering the instruction he received from professional players as a youth in Texas.
“I definitely was involved in a lot of (camps),” Bantz said. “As a youngster and seeing (higher-level) players, you kind of look up to them.
“It’s something I really love to do, just give back and hopefully teach a little bit of the knowledge I’ve learned along the way and maybe help out some kids.”
The players, many of whom have heard of the camp by word of mouth, have seen a noticeable impact on their game.
“I’ve been working on a lot of hitting stuff and learning about my mechanics and different zones to hit the ball,” said Austin Carter, 13, a student at Cascade Christian Schools who noted that he hoped to attend future camps after this first experience.
“The kids have come a long ways, it’s a great camp for any baseball player,” said Tyler Clemensen, a 13-year-old pitcher who helped coach at the camp and has trained with Trolia for over a year. “It has changed me so much.”
And the values taught at the camp stretched beyond baseball, as evidenced by a moment on July 12 when Trolia stopped the simulated game and pulled his entire group together after a player had tossed his helmet after making an out.
“One hundred percent of these kids are going to have to be men someday,” Trolia said. “There’s something that we can positively affect every kid with. All that stuff can be learned on the baseball field, just from something like that, throwing your helmet.”
Trolia was set to finish another camp at the PECK fields which ran from July 16-19, and was to host his All Skills Instructional Camp from July 23-25 at Fircrest Park. In addition, Trolia is part of a group trying to finalize a permanent baseball facility in South Tacoma to hold year-round baseball activities, along with other sports. He said that Metro Parks and the YMCA are also interested in being involved with the facility, and that the goal was to be open by mid-October.
“We’re trying to start teaming up all these organizations together to put out a really good product for these kids to really respond to.”
For more information on Trolia’s camps or programs, visit http://www.atbaseball.com/.