Dudy Noble Field Will Be Busy This Summer

Mississippi State assistant baseball coach Nick Mingione, MSU's coordinator of baseball camps, talks about things that will be going on on Dudy Noble Field this summer, including summer travel team tournaments and Mississippi State's very popular summer baseball camps.

What is the reasoning behind some of the elite summer baseball travel teams coming in and playing on Dudy Noble Field during the summer months? What is the benefit to Mississippi State and what is the benefit to the travel teams?
"It gives our coaches an opportunity to see these players and meet and develop relationships with the coaches. And the players are provided an opportunity to see what we have to offer here at Mississippi State."

I believe there will be at least four separate tournaments during June. How did these events come about?
"A lot of this was already in place where these teams have been coming here for years. When I got here last summer we sat down, lined up some events, had them and some of those coaches called back and wanted to schedule those same type events again. So, we did that and have added some."

Why are they scheduled in June?
"All are scheduled around our camps and our camps start at the end of June - June 27th will be the first day of our first team camp. So, these events are scheduled around those camps."

Are all the teams from the southeast area or are there some from outside of the southeast?
"We actually have a team from New York coming in, but a lot of times the teams don't travel that far. If there was a team from California that wanted to come to Dudy Noble we would welcome them here. But a lot of teams are local teams who travel on the weekends, then they drive back home."

Are you able to interact with the players on the travel teams while they are on campus?
"We are able to talk with the players and spend some time with them while they are here."

Do many of the players on these summer teams also attend the Mississippi State camps?
"The camps and events are separate entities. And a lot of these players who play on these teams are playing every week. And they sometimes play 3, 4, 5, even 6 games a week so their schedules may not match up with our camp schedules. But we will have a few boys who will not only play in summer events but also attend our camps."

With so many kids playing on the summer travel teams, how does that affect college camps like Mississippi State's camps?
"With this being our first summer of camps, we'll have to see. And with the economy the way it is right now, we'll also have to see if that affects them. One thing that I have learned is if there is a way for players to improve, they and their parents will do whatever it takes to get them on a team or get them to a camp."

What has been the response to the MSU camps from individuals and teams?
"It has been about what we expected. The numbers are very close to what they have been in the past. Some camps are a little higher and some are a little bit lower."

What are the different type baseball camps scheduled for this summer?
"We have two separate team camps. We cap those off at 16 teams each. As of right now, we have just over 20 teams total for the two team camps. We have an overnight all-skills camp for high school athletes from 7th to 12th graders from July 6th through the 10th. From July 10th to the 12th, is a pitchers/catchers camp that is also overnight. Then we have our day camp for children from the 1st through the 6th grade."

Obviously you don't have games going on during the pitchers/catchers camp. What kind of activities are going on during that camp?
"Because they are pitchers and catchers, you are able to pair them up and do a lot of work with each group. But obviously, because they can't pitch all the time or throw bullpens the entire time, you are able to spend a lot of time with the kids and provide them with a lot of instruction. It's the same thing with the catchers - they can't catch bullpens all the time so we can give them a lot of instruction as well."

Will the Mississippi State coaches be at the camps and working individually with the kids?
"Our coaches will be present but at what camps, what times ... that will constantly change due to all the things on our schedules."

While there will be a great deal of instruction during the camps, they are also used as a recruiting tool in some cases, aren't they?
"One of the neat things about the camps is it allows us the opportunity to spend a lot of time with these kids. Say, we are recruiting one of the student-athletes at the camp, it gives us an opportunity to spend up to 3 to 4 days with the boy. That allows us the chance to get to know them and develop a relationship with them. That part is really neat because you not only see their baseball side but their personal side as well."

Who else, other than the MSU baseball coaches, will work the camps?
"Each camps is different, but we have several college coaches from two-year and four-year schools attending. And we have some high school coaches who attend. There will be a lot of the core group of guys who have worked the camps here again. And we have added some new ones as well."

Do current and former players help with the camps as well?
"Yes, some of our current players and former players will be able to help out. We will have student managers helping us. It's a team effort, from our staff to our players, to our student managers, our athletic trainers, from junior college coaches to four-year college coaches."

What states will the teams at the team camps represent?
"We will have teams from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida."

How many games will each team play at the team camps?
"There will be two teaching sessions for each team. Every single morning we will start with a defensive session where all the coaches involved in the camp will instruct and teach defense. Then, each team will play two games during the day. And they will have a hitting session with the Mississippi State coaches. During the course of one team camp, there will be five games played by each team."

Will you have an overall winner of the camp among the teams?
"We will. We will go by wins and losses with the tie-breaker determined by the number of runs. The two teams who are selected based on that criteria will play for the championship."

What are some benefits the MSU coaches get from the All-Skills camp?
"It's a great way for us to evaluate players, see them showcase their skills in a game. It also gives us a chance to develop relationships with the players."

Dudy Noble Field is just one field, obviously. What other fields will you use for the camps?
"We use high school fields throughout the area in addition to Dudy Noble for our team camps. And every team will play two games on Dudy Noble."

Do the teams get to use the other Mississippi State facilities?
"Yes, we will use the Grisham Tunnel and the Palmeiro Center for our team camps."

Where will the teams stay during the nights?
"They stay at Evans Hall (on campus). And their coaches stay with them. The team camps are great because the players get to stay with their coaches in the dorm. Obviously, we have supervision as well. But it's neat because in high school not every team gets to travel and stay overnight. They normally stay within their area or their district. But the team camp is a great way for teams to experience what a college team experiences when they go on the road and stay overnight."

Describe the experience step-by step from the moment they register to the time they leave.
"The teams attending the team camps all register at the dorms. They check in from 3 to 5 at Evans Hall. Then we will feed them dinner either at Perry Cafeteria or in the Palmeiro Center where we will cater something in. We use different businesses throughout Starkville. The first night we will have a skills competition among all the teams. The next morning they wake up between 7 and 8 and eat breakfast. By 9 o'clock they are here getting warmed up and stretching. We then do our defensive session. Once it's over, we go to lunch and then go play the games. They will start the games between 12 and 1 and they will last all the way up to 8 o'clock. Then we have the hitting sessions in the afternoon. In the afternoon, teams are either playing games or having their hitting sessions. They eat their dinner sometime during that time. We keep them busy."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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