It’s certainly a unique opportunity for a high school baseball player to experience what a high level college practice session looks and feels like.
Each year Diamond Nation invites coaches from some of the top programs nationally and locally and puts on what can only be described as a baseball incubator. It is essentially a high-energy, deeply focused baseball classroom.
“This is a different camp,” says Vanderbilt assistant coach Scott Brown. “This is teaching through drills. It’s teaching instead of playing. There is no other place or camp where you get this level of instruction. We see it as an opportunity to give back.”
The dozen or so college coaches instruct about 120 high school players, offering an experience most players do not get until they walk onto campus as college freshmen. The two-day camp on Aug. 15-16 is an intensely focused, fast-paced instructional environment that includes skill drills, station work and plenty of skull session.
One of the main highlights is the recruiting seminar that caps the first day of camp. The seminar provides the high school players with a unique insight into the college recruiting process from the coach’s viewpoint. Players learn exactly the type of player and person college coaches are looking to bring into their program.
“This is a great time to be a baseball player in the northeast,” Binghamton University assistant Ryan Hurba (in photo at top of page) told the campers. “Don’t take for granted the opportunity you have in front of you. When I went to Oswego State, the first time I met my coach was the first day of practice. And we didn’t have facilities like this when I was coming up.”
The College Elite instructors utilized much of the Diamond Nation complex as they broke down positional groups — catchers, pitchers, infielders and outfielders — into stations, which gave the coaches an opportunity for plenty of one-on-one or, at least, small group instruction.
“We had six or seven hours-plus of instruction on Day 1,” said Brown, Vanderbilt’s pitching coach. “It’s almost like being in classes in college. We give the players index cards and make them write things down that they learn. We want them to take notes. You could see they slept well the night before Day 2. We worked them out. It’s a long focus.”
Hurba was left impressed with the approach taken by the campers. And at the conclusion of the camp, he let them know it.
“You guys never came off the gas pedal,” said Hurba. “You kept it at a high level with the positive energy and hustle.”
Brown and University of Maryland pitching coach Corey Muscara steered an impressive camp for the pitchers, which, aside from addressing the specific drills and mechanics, the young hurlers were given typical college pitchers’ plans for “the day” and “the year.”
“I bring a lot of equipment and gadgets,” said Brown. “Just some of the tools we use. We’ve picked the camp apart the past few years and looked for what we can improve upon. There is a lot of preparation that goes into this. I’m doing this full throttle, just like the rest of the coaches here. We are all very comfortable in a teaching environment.”
The College Elite Showcase Camp seems to have grown to a level where the word is out that it is a must-attend event at the end of the summer tournament season. And the coaches have discovered the camp provides them with a multitude of benefits.
“We get time to see how players this age learn and respond to what we are teaching,” said Muscara, a Franklin & Pierce grad who came to Maryland after a five-year stint as St. John’s pitching coach. “This is also a great opportunity to be around great coaches. Coaching is all about developing by doing. It’s an opportunity for us to learn from each other, too.”
The catching segment, guided by Coastal Carolina assistant Kevin Schnall, has always been a big hit at the College Elite Camp. Schnall also does an excellent job with the first basemen.
“You must have pride in your effort with the glove,” says Schnall, a Mercer County native. “First base gets more balls than any position other than catcher, so the first baseman has to be equally efficient in receiving and throwing the ball. If the ball hits your glove, it has to stay in your glove. And when the ball is released on the throw, it has to be a catchable ball. We are watching for feel, rhythm and tempo.”
The second day of camp concludes with a pair of games on adjacent fields coached by the college coaches. Several coaches are on the field and in the dugouts offering plenty of instruction and tweaking as they see fit as the games progress
“This year’s College Elite camp was as strong as ever,” said Diamond Nation’s recruiting coordinator Steve DiTrolio. “The talent level was extremely impressive, from the 2020 grads all the way down to the 2023 grads.”
DiTrolio helps organize and coordinate the camp with Kevin Cust, Diamond Nation’s director of baseball operations, and the college coaches.
“The instruction from our talented staff was second to none,” said DiTrolio. “The College Elite Showcase Camp has quickly become a must-attend event of the summer.”
2019 COLLEGE ELITE SHOWCASE CAMP STAFF
Coastal Carolina, Kevin Schnall
Vanderbilt University, Scott Brown
University of Maryland, Corey Muscara
Binghamton, Ryan Hurba
Stoney Brook, Jim Martin
Oswego State, Scott Landers
St. John’s University, George Brown
Rutgers University, Brendan Monaghan
Seton Hall University, Pat Pinkman
Bryant College, Eric Pelletier
Boston College, Alexander Trezza III
Northeastern, Nicholas Puccio
University of Connecticut, Joshua McDonald
Rowan College at Gloucester County, Rob Valli
University of South Carolina, Stuart Lake