Coach Prieto Explains Benefits of His Baseball Camp
(EDITOR’s NOTE: Observer reporter Fred Altieri interviewed Culver baseball coach Rick Prieto regarding his annual off-season baseball camp. Here is the first of this two-part interview
Rick Prieto – Culver City High Baseball Head Coach
Our baseball camp, which is called ‘The Fundamentals of Baseball,’ is now in its 16th year at Culver City High.
We established it so we could develop a good relationship and have a better communication with the community at large and the youth baseball players.
It’s worked out very well. We wanted to go back to the fundamentals of baseball and teach the youth of the future what skills are needed to play at a higher level.
It’s turned out to be a very good program because I’ve probably had 60 of my campers come through and play varsity baseball for me in the 16 years.
We accept players from the 3rd through the 8th grade. We’re very flexible. If their skill level is par with a 3rd grader and they’re in 2nd grade then obviously we’d like to have them. It’s about safety also because we divide them up, scrimmage and teach at a two-group level, an intermediate group and an advanced group where the techniques and drills are a little more in depth.
It’s a five-week camp, five days a week from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. We work the camp around our summer league season for the high school team. We’re able to shut down at 2 p.m. and give a little window of rest and field preparation for a 4 p.m. home game start. If it’s an away game we have a chance to gather the equipment, get the guys ready, gear it up and head out for the games at South Torrance, Palos Verdes or San Pedro.
For the parents who are interested in signing their kids up for the ‘The Fundamentals of Baseball’ camp they can reach me at the High School Baseball Clubhouse by calling (310) 842-4370 or they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org here at the school and I can give them all the information they need.
Many of my camp coaches are returning players. Of the five coaches we have at camp this year four of them are former Centaur players.
It’s a very good mix of player/coaches. They’re still going to college and have an opportunity to coach and help the kids.
The camp players are asked to be here at 8:30 a.m. and we do our run, stretch and throw exercises. Next we do our conditioning with our high school team which is fun for the camp players as they enjoy being with the high school player/coaches. Then we go right into our skill drills. We have a lunch break and then we have two scrimmage games.
We have four teams: two at the intermediate level and two at the advanced level.
Our older returning varsity players come in and we just play games during the summer. Once in a while we’ll call a practice but mainly it’s a 12 to 15 game schedule, Monday through Thursday. It allows them to have Friday, Saturday and Sunday off if they choose to play youth baseball or just rest and do something other than baseball.
We have two teams: an ‘A’ team which is our returning varsity and potential varsity players and our ‘B’ team which is our frosh/soph, JV players and in-coming freshmen from the middle school.
The assessment and evaluation by all the coaches are put together at the end of the summer. We identify the players that we feel have a very good shot at playing for us and we put them into the 6th Period Baseball class that begins in the fall.
That’s our baseball conditioning class.
If we see some players we believe aren’t quite ready for high school baseball we tell them we do have a tryout period usually before school lets out for winter break. Then when they come out we can see how they developed over the past three or four months.
I firmly believe that the players need to take a rest. That’s why I’m an advocate of playing more than one sport. I believe you’re a better well-rounded athlete by playing three different disciplines than just the one in terms of the skill needed. They’re in a different environment with different coaches. They develop more friendships that way.
I coached football here at Culver City High School for four years. It was kind of my break from the players in the program and a break from the baseball arena by going into the football program while letting them go off and do other things, be it football, another sport or just conditioning and some time off.