Your first camp of the summer just ended. What kind of feedback did you get about the camp?
"Some of the things we do are, number 1, we want to make sure the kids get better so they take things with them that, hopefully, will help them become better baseball players, and number 2, we also want to receive input from the coaches, so we actually have an evaluation sheet that the coaches fill out. They evaluate the camp from an organization standpoint - from registration to checkout - how our staff meetings went, the contests we had, the games, defensive sessions, hitting sessions, the recruiting seminar, strength seminar, the competency of the staff. I think our staff received all A+s."
What did the coaches of the teams that attended say they liked about the camp?
"They mentioned how much information they were given as compared to other team camps that they went to. The number 1 thing that they talked to me about was how hard we worked them and how much information they were given. That's a real credit to our entire staff."
What were some things the staff keyed on during the camp?
"Each morning we tried to give them an opportunity to meet with someone who has a direct influence on our players. As an example, the first day (MSU head) Coach (John) Cohen sat down with all the kids and explained the recruiting process and some of the terminology that we use. They also are given the opportunity to work out and be coached by our coaches at whatever defensive position that they choose. Outfielders go with the outfielders, pitchers go with the pitchers, catchers go with the catchers, etc.
"Then, during the afternoon, they play two games and have a hitting session. When you include the dinner, that takes them to about 9:30 at night. It's a full day for the kids."
With so many summer travel teams playing now, how does that affect attendance at college camps?
"As far as the number of teams, I think we are very close to what we have had in years past. As a matter of fact, this summer we will have more teams than we had last summer. Last summer, we had seventeen teams. This summer, we are on pace to have twenty. We had seven teams this session and we will have at least 12 to 13 in the next session."
I know you also do individual position camps. What are the benefits of doing team camps?
"The team camps are a good opportunity for us to develop close relationships with some of the high school coaches. And we also get to see the kids play games."
Recruiting-wise, having kids come to your camp should really help out.
"Anytime we can get any high school player on our campus it helps in recruiting. These kids have the opportunity to see our Templeton Academic Center, Dudy Noble Field, our locker rooms, our weight room, the Palmeiro Center, the Griffis Room. So, they have been all over our campus. And I think they have seen some of the finest facilities that any college has to offer. Whether we recruit them or not, those kids are going to tell others about the experience they had, so that has to help with recruiting."
Is there a certain time during the camp when they tour the facilities?
"We schedule them so that we are constantly taking them to new places throughout the camp. And we structure our schedule so that they go to all those different places throughout the four-day period, not just on one day."
You mention that the MSU coaches work the camp. Who else helps with the camps?
"There are coaches from other colleges and high schools. I feel as good about our camp staff as I have ever felt about our staff."
How do you decide who to hire to help the MSU coaches run the camps? Do they have a special skill that you need for the camp?
"It's that and over time you develop relationships with coaches and they come back and work the camps. It also allows them the opportunity to evaluate players as well."
You also have current MSU baseball players working the camp as well?
"It is really neat for the high school kids to interact with our kids. Sometimes, a high school kid may be intimidated to ask a coach a question and it's easier for them to ask the player a question. We feel like we are approachable but that's just a fact of life. And it's actually a great opportunity for our kids as well because we believe that teaching is learning at a higher level. So, anytime we can get them to teach something that is part of our system, they are actually learning as they are teaching it."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.