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Twins’ youth clinic returns to NFM

January 31, 2018
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

For more than 15 years the Minnesota Twins have done youth camps throughout Southwest Florida as a way to give back to the community and teach the game to a new generation of players.

On Saturday, from 1 to 3 p.m., the baseball team returns once again to the North Fort Myers Community Park on North Recreation Way.

Twins coaches and players will teach the fundamentals of hitting, pitching and fielding to players of the North Fort Myers Babe Ruth League between the ages of 5 and 13.

Jason Estes, president of North Fort Myers Babe Ruth, said with Opening Day just one week away, the clinic provides an opportunity for the kids to learn from the pros.

"It's one of the main events as we begin the spring season. Our picture day is in the morning so the kids will have their fresh uniforms and be ready in that regard," Estes said. "Then the Twins will come in to build up some skills."

Traditionally, the Twins camp has alternated between Donaldson Park, home of Hancock Little League, and the community park. However, this year is the second straight year the clinic has been held at the community park.

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That's a plus for Estes' league, as it creates a level of excitement for the kids after weeks of practice leading up to the season.

"The kids really look up to them. They listen attentively even if they are saying the same thing the coaches are teaching them," Estes said. "Bringing in that outside mentor, especially when they have that professional experience, is really helpful."

Among the coaches expected to teach will be Tommy Watkins, manager of the teams' Cedar Rapids farm club and a Fort Myers native, and Stu Cliburn, a Twins pitching coach and also a former big leaguer. Team minor leaguers also will be there to help the kids out.

The kids will be split into the groups according to age and rotated among fielding, pitching and hitting stations for age-appropriate instruction.

Estes said the league is expecting its biggest turnout since forming in 2012. More than 230 youths have signed up, with more potentially on the way.

Teams have increased from 11 teams last year to 17 this year, which will allow for more play within the leagues as well as interleague play with teams from Cape Coral, Clewiston and Naples.There will also be travel ball teams.



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