For Delhi University’s sports students, especially softball and baseball players, it was time to get energised and prepare themselves for hectic practice sessions last week.
For them it was a lifetime opportunity to take lessons from the 19-year Major Leaguer, 12 time National League All-Star and Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and two times Olympian Natasha Watley, who were in the City to coach students as part of the cultural diplomacy initiated by American Embassy.
Excited, full of enthusiasm and eager to learn the best in a limited time with leading sports figures, players from Jesus and Mary, Sri Ram College of Commerce, Maharaja Agrasen, Lakshmibai, Maitreyi, Swami Shraddhanand and Indira Gandhi Institute of Physical Education actively participated in the two-day long camp at Maitreyi College.
Despite poor weather conditions, students reached the grounds early morning and did simple warmup exercises. After a few minutes they were joined by Barry, Natasha and Joe Logan, pitcher for Florida Southern College. The 140 students were divided into three groups, each being handled by the three mentors consecutively. For the players it was an amazing experience as they were told how to pitch in the right manner and to field that catch perfectly.
“They were coached completely professionally and very differently from what they are being taught by their college coaches. No wonder these mentors managed to get the same output from the kids in five minutes which we generally take out in half an hour,” admitted Anoop Kumar, a sports teacher from Directorate of Education. “They are being made to learn skills by players who are perfect in their sports. From fielding to toss up catches, every minor aspect of baseball and soft ball are being taught to these kids brilliantly,” says he.
Seconding these views was Shipra Verma, associate professor, department of Physical Education, Maitreyi, seemed to be positive about student’s performance in inter-college competitions and their selection at national level. “There are 12 softball teams in Delhi University who participate in inter-college competition every year. Maitreyi, Lakshmibai and Jesus and Mary College are among the top three. They have also competed with 25 teams at the national level too. The coaching session is an exposure for players and they will get to know key areas where they lack,” she says.
For 20 year old Ashish, student of Indira Gandhi Institute of Physical Education, it was an amazing experience. “They made us practice for two hours without giving us a break. We don’t have time to feel tired because every time we run, field or take a catch, mentors are there to tell us our weak points. We can never forget the basics they taught us,” says Ashish.