About 20 years ago, head coach Matt Chimera and the Kenmore West softball coaching staff started a three-day clinic as a way to raise funds for the team and teach the game of softball. For those who have taken part in the camp, it has become so much more.
Lexie Dymond remembers coming to the camp as one of her favorite memories as a kid.
She was a camper for the first time back in elementary school when she played for the Kenmore 10U softball team. She remembers wanting to stick out from the rest of the group and everyone wanting to sign ‘the ball’.
The campers are split into groups and based on aged, each group gets a softball. Every time a player makes a good play, or the coach notices the player working hard, they get to sign the ball. The player who signs it the most gets to take it home.
In fifth grade Dymond got to take home the ball. She still has it in her room.
“It means ‘hard work’ to me,” Dymond said. “As a kid, it was always my goal to win the ball.”
Now almost 10 years later Dymond sees that same excitement in the campers to win ‘the ball’.
Dymond played softball at Kenmore West and is now playing at D’Youville. The camp and her coaching staff at Ken-West are some of the reasons why she is at where she is right now.
“It means a lot that I can come back and help because this program has done so much for me,” Dymond said.
The camp helps raise money for the team’s annual trip to Florida. A trip that is taken early in the year in order to help them get ready for the rest of the season.
Besides being a good fundraiser for the program, the camp also serves as a way to help current players understand the sport even better according to Chimera.
“Until you have to teach something you really don’t know it,” Chimera said. “They are in charge of certain drills so by having them teach the skills, they become better players.”
Over 70 girls have signed up to participate in the three-day camp which teaches defensive, offensive and individual position skills. With multiple camps being offered this week, such high attendance indicates the culture and community that the program has developed.
Rachel Valente, a junior on the Kenmore West Blue Devils varsity softball team, attended the camp when she was younger with many of her current teammates. This year she has returned to help coach and give back to the sport she loves.
“I was a little nervous at first but everyone is so nice and ready to learn,” Valente said. “It’s something I really like doing. It feels amazing because I see a lot of myself in the younger kids. It’s really encouraging to see them get excited for softball.”
At the end of the day on Tuesday, the campers got a special treat as Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott spoke to them. You can read more about that at the link below: