Camp always a highlight for coach
LAGRANGE – There’s nothing like a dip in the pool to take the edge off when it’s close to 100 degrees outside.
At the LaGrange College softball camp that was held last week, coach Jennifer Claybrook worked the players hard during the morning.
Then after a lunch break, just as things really started to heat up, the campers got to spend a few hours in the pool on the LaGrange College campus.
“We go over to the pool and swim, and they’ve really enjoyed that,” said Claybrook, who recently completed her 12th season as the LaGrange College softball coach. “I think it’s helped them to be really laser-focused in the morning.”
Claybrook has been offering the youth camp for years now, and it’s something she always enjoys doing.
“I really do look forward to it,” Claybrook said. “What I’ve enjoyed, one of the campers just said, you’re tough to where you want us to get better, but you’re so encouraging and so positive. That meant a lot. We’ve had a great time. I look forward to it every year.”
Helping Claybrook out during the camp was her assistant coach and former LaGrange College player Shanna Brumbelow.
Also lending a hand was Claybrook’s father and LaGrange College coach Roy DeMooney.
“They work really hard from 9 to 12, and they work on their drills whether we’re doing slap hitting, and today we’re going to focus on pitching and catching, and we’re going to do infield specific drills,” Claybrook said on the camp’s final day. “We’ve had a good little camp. It’s been fun.”
Claybrook said the campers have done a nice job of dealing with the heat.
“It really hasn’t been that bad,” she said. “The girls have been real troopers. And going from nine to noon, it’s been nice.”
This year’s campers had a chance to get some pointers from a coaching staff that led the Panthers to a conference championship and a spot in the NCAA Division III national tournament last season.
LaGrange College beat William Peace 11-1 in April to claim the USA South tournament title and earn the conference’s automatic invitation to the national tournament.
“Winning the USA South tournament and going on to the national tournament was incredible,” Claybrook said. “The girls did such an amazing job.”
This fall, Claybrook will be on the road looking at prospective future Panthers.
While the college softball season is in the spring, the high-school softball season is in the fall, which works out well for Claybrook.
“For me, I’m happy Georgia has fall softball,” Claybrook said. “It’s a great opportunity to go recruit. So many sports, it’s the same season, so it’s a little more difficult for them. For us, it’s a great opportunity.”
Claybrook is also LaGrange College’s athletic director, and she oversees a sports program that has enjoyed tremendous success of late.
Among the highlights during the 2014-2015 school year was her own team winning a conference title, the men’s basketball team winning a second consecutive conference championship, and the golf team finishing second in the Division III national tournament to Methodist.
It was a spectacular season for the golf program, which was started by Lee Richter in 1993.
“I couldn’t be more proud for what he’s done with that program,” Claybrook said.
Claybrook said the coaching situation as a whole at LaGrange College is in terrific shape.
“I’m very proud of our coaching staff, our athletic department as a whole, and where we’re going,” Claybrook said.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports