A year removed from coaching at the high school level, former Cass skipper and Adairsville assistant Brent Perry finds himself back on the diamond once again, teaching the game that he loves to some of the youngest members of Bartow's baseball pool.
While it did not take much arm twisting for Perry to lead this week's Bartow County Parks and Recreation Department baseball camp, his relationship with county recreation director Greg Hight made it even less likely that he would turn down the opportunity.
"Greg played for me in high school so that makes it a smooth transition. He asked me a long time ago to do this, and there's no way I'm gonna say no to him," Perry explained. "He's always been good to me."
The camp, which began Monday and concludes Friday, has brought enjoyment to Perry who has witnessed the passion exhibited by each of the campers.
"What really pleases me, from Day 1 to Day 2, we got better and ... they had the look in their eyes like they're gonna get better tomorrow also," he said Tuesday.
With kids ranging from 10 to 13 years old -- and much younger -- camp instructors are working to improve areas that will benefit the kids when they enter high school.
"Having done high school for so long, what we're really concentrating on this week is things that they're weak on when they get to high school. Baserunning, usually, a ninth-grader in high school is horrible at baserunning, so we're concentrating on baserunning this week," Perry said. "We're working on rundowns, infield-outfield communication ... avoiding collisions -- things that they don't know how to do in high school usually. The hitting part of it, some of them are still a little bit weak to actually do the things I want 'em to, what I'm used to seeing at the high school level. But some of 'em are pretty close so we take 'em down to the tunnels and try to make 'em better for an hour every day in this four-hour clinic."
Having coached baseball in Bartow for 30-plus years, Perry would not rule out a return to high school coaching but seems content to operate in his current capacity.
"I don't know what the future holds. I know coach [Todd] Eubanks over at Cass. He coached for me for a year or two, and we're real good friends. [Adairsville] coach [Eric] Bishop's already told me that anytime I want to think about something like that [returning], just to come and talk to him. But there's young coaches that need chances, too, and me getting out [of] the way gives those young coaches a chance at the high school level, so I'm happy about that," Perry said.
As long as there is baseball to teach and he still has the wherewithal to do so, the longtime coach plans to be around the game.
"Five years from now, if I'm older and less wise, if somebody says the word 'baseball,' I'm gonna be around it probably, as long as my health will let me."
Bartow's baseball camp continues today. In addition to the baseball camp, the county recreation department also is hosting its day camp this week, with volleyball the sport of choice for the fourth week. Remaining day camp sessions will include lessons on basketball (July 11-15), tennis (July 18-22) and field sports (July 25-29).