Softball head coach Robert Wagner huddled his team around him after practice on Monday evening. With sounds of cleats stomping and softballs smacking the inside of the gloves, his voice peaked above everything giving directions to his players right before their first fall camp.
During the Coyotes’ offseason, Wagner and the team decided to host softball camps at Nygaard Field for children ages 8-18. This is the first time they have offered this opportunity since Wagner began as head coach at USD.
“We’re trying to develop softball in the area and give them an opportunity to work on their skills,” Wagner said. “We want to generate interest in our program and in the sport of softball.”
The kids moved from one station to another where they were met by players on the South Dakota roster. They were taught hitting, pitching and fielding ground balls along with catching in the outfield.
“Four of our players coached local teams this summer, so there’s already a connection,” Wagner said. “They want to continue that help, to help those kids continue to develop and grow. Then the team just wants to give back to the sport they love.”
The free camp is held on Mondays from 5:45-6:45 p.m. on the USD fields. This is one way that the team hopes to give back to the community.
“We kind of treat it like a community service. Obviously, we aren’t, it is free for the youth of the community.” Wagner said.
This camp is to teach young kids in the community, but it also allows the softball players to learn life skills.
“[My favorite part is] just seeing the girls come out and have a good time and enjoy their experience and watching our players be able to step in and be leaders of the community and role models for those young girls that may aspire to be a college athlete one day,” Wagner said.
The camp will continue every Monday (excluding Oct. 10) until Oct. 24.