College coaches, students host baseball clinic

HANAPEPE — If turnout at the Trosky Kaua‘i College Instructional Camp for baseball and softball players is an indication, winter baseball on Kaua‘i is alive and well.

More than 40 youngsters between the ages of 7 to 11 years old turned out for their age group sessions while another 30 to 40 players, including several Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation high school players, showed up for the 12 to 15 year olds’ session Tuesday afternoon at Hanapepe Stadium.

“This was unreal,” said Larry Ephan, an assistant coach with the Waimea High School softball program and one of the camp directors. “There were 40 of the most interested kids you could find, just listening and learning. It was chicken skin.”

Nate Trosky, owner of the Trosky camp, played baseball with Larry Ephan at Hawai‘i Pacific University, said Sherri Ephan, Larry’s wife.

“Both men went on to play professional ball, as well,” she said in an email.

Leading the clinic was Trosky; Larry Ephan, a former Texas Rangers catcher; and Donny Kadokawa, the San Jose State University coach and owner of Kado Baseball; Dave Nakama head coach of San Jose State University; Benny Bonilla, assistant coach at Loyola Marymount University and a veteran Division I coach; Garrett Yukamoto, head coach at HPU and Buck Taylor of Palmar College, the Junior College Coach of the Year and a Major League Baseball scout.

Joining the lead instructors were former KIF baseball players currently playing at the college level and home for the winter break.

“Dallas Correa was here earlier, but had to leave for an O‘ahu trip,” said Kirk Correa, Dallas’ dad and organizer of the Garden Island Baseball Clinic Showcase scheduled for Dec. 30 at Hanapepe Stadium. “Dallas is one of 10 Kaua‘i players who will be leading the camp, Dec. 30.”

During the Trosky Baseball camp, which wrapped up two days of instruction Wednesday, youth players in both baseball and softball were invited to attend and participate.

The college coaches and MLB scouts worked with current college players to advance the level of play of the participants.

“I learned that there are two people in baseball who are remembered,” said Degan Davis, a student who has attended two previous Trosky camps. “The first and last players. I want to be the first because the last player is the laziest.”

Players like Davis worked through not only baseball fundamentals, but the qualities of a winning attitude while taking part in drills, exercises and games.

“I learned the best pitch in baseball is the first strike,” said Kanaan Ephan, who also attended two other camps.

Camp agenda items included batting practice, position-specific fundamental training, speed training, batting drills, mental game training, dynamic warm ups and motivational talks.

Kyle Oshima, a parent with Lihu‘e Baseball League and a former board member, watched while his son joined the field.

“This is one of the most educational clinics I’ve seen,” Oshima said. “It’s good for the kids because if you watch them, they’re listening, and learning. They never listen to us, as coaches, like that.”

Oshima said LBL recently collaborated with the Kawaihau Community Little League Association to form Kaua‘i’s “winter league,” an informal league for players from 9 through 12 years old.

“Between football and baseball seasons, there is nothing for the kids,” Oshima said. “We started the league so they would have something to do before being distracted by other activities.”

He said the “informal” status of the league means there is no official scorekeeping, and games are played on Sundays (starting Dec. 1) at either Kapa‘a, or Koloa fields under the Protect Our Nation’s Youth baseball guidelines.

There are currently four Bronco-aged (11 to 12 years) teams, two from Kapa‘a, and two from Lihu‘e, and three Mustang-aged (9 to 10 years), one from Kapa‘a and two from Lihu‘e.

Kirk Correa said the Dec. 30 baseball clinic and showcase will be led by college players, college coaches and MLB scouts at Hanapepe Stadium.

“Once upon a time, we only had six college players,” Kirk Correa said. “This year, we are up to 10 college players, probably the most Kaua‘i has had at any one time, available.”

Correa said in addition for the event being a venue where college athletes can give back to Kaua‘i, it is a great way for the younger student athletes to learn.

“Dallas, currently a University of the Pacific catcher, remembers attending a clinic like this when he was 8 years old,” Correa said. “He was fortunate to receive a signed autographed glove from former Texas Ranger standout Micah Furtado, who at that time, was playing for Lewis and Clark State College. Dallas said the experience opened his eyes to opportunities he could strive for. For that same reason, I want to do the same for younger players.”

Call Correa at 335-0102 for more information on the Dec. 30 clinic and showcase.

Ephan, who was in the midst of preparing for the coaches clinic Tuesday, repeated the message.

“It’s all for the kids,” the father of Waimea High School’s All-Star softball catcher said.

Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or


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