An Oak Park grad is committed to teaching youngsters the basics of catching a softball.
Hailey Unger, 20, will be heading up the 2014 Team Canada Catching Clinic at the Home Run Sports Training Centre (905 King Edward St.). The clinic is divided up into two sessions for two age groups.
The first session is for youth aged 13 to 17, taking place on May 29, June 5, and June 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. The second session is for youth aged nine to 12, taking place on June 3, June 10, and June 17 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Each session is $120 and is open to the first 20 catchers. Participants must bring their own equipment to the clinic. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 204-925-5673.
Unger, who is currently a student at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D. on a softball and academic scholarship, created the catching clinic because she recalled not receiving too much coaching on catching as a young athlete, so she set these sessions up to help aspiring softball players.
Unger recalls that there was no catcher when she started playing softball, which is why she thinks it’s important to get youngsters familiar with the position.
"I was a pitcher at the time, and we had another pitcher. We had nobody to catch," Unger said.
Some of the things Unger plans to teach include bunt coverage and pop-ups. Unger said she will teach both age groups about the different types of situations a catcher might deal with on the field, as well as emphasizing the importance of maintaining a relationship with the pitchers and coach.
"You need to be communicating with them as well," Unger said.
Unger, a catcher, has been playing softball since she was eight years old. She started out in the sport at Varsity View Community Centre (315 Laxdal Rd.) before moving around from organization to organization, meeting new coaches and playing with different teams.
"I started to get more serious about it," Unger said. "I had to quit other sports."
During her freshman year with Dakota Wesleyan University, Unger earned All-GPAC First Team honours, according to the university’s athletics website (dwuathletics.com/womens-athletics/softball/coaches). Unger is the school’s third First Team honouree. According to the website, Unger "led the team in batting average (.333), slugging percentage (.500), and on-base percentage (.366)."
As well, Unger played for Team Manitoba at the 2013 Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, Que.
"We ended up winning silver, which has never been done before. The best Manitoba has ever done in softball was bronze. We ended up beating Ontario, so that was kind of a big moment," Unger said.
Unger is also available for one-on-one work with catchers at team practices. She is also willing to teach batting skills as well. To book a private session, email email@example.com