PATASKALA — It is not quite Field of Dreams, but Greg Turchan hopes it is not long before baseball players are coming by the dozen.
Turchan, the Licking Heights varsity baseball coach, is hosting clinics each of the next four Mondays at Reitano SportsCenter. The facility recently opened on U.S. 40 just west of Mink Road.
“We have a couple kids in here we’ve seen in the summer time (playing with my son) and word of mouth, so it’s friends and family for now,” Turchan said. “Hopefully, eventually we will have a bunch of kids who we can’t identify because they are all new. It’s been a good first week.”
The facility currently is set up for basketball, and a Black Friday camp is scheduled. AAU opportunities also are planned.
Batting cages are in the process of being added, and Turchan’s clinics, which are an hour apiece for three age groups, ranging from 5 to 14 years old, focus on a different fundamental each week. Heights junior Ben Pennington assisted Turchan with Monday’s fielding and throwing drills.
“I have done stuff this before, and I enjoy it. My dad’s coached a lot of baseball, so it’s right up my alley,” Pennington said. “We want kids to have fun to keep them coming.”
Participants in Monday’s first session for ages 5 through 8 included players from Licking Heights Youth Association and Southwest Licking Youth Baseball.
“I want to see them enjoy the game, have fun and do things the right way,” Turchan said. “Ultimately, it’s about growing the game of baseball. It’s becoming so serious with travel ball. It’s good to see kids learning it the right way and enjoying themselves.”
The clinics and participation in private lessons are open to players from any school district, but Turchan certainly has his eye on his future. He took over the Heights program before the 2019 season and has begun what he hopes will be a long sustained run of success.
It will be a decade before Monday’s youngest campers are Heights and Watkins Memorial varsity players, but time certainly will fly.
“I remember Watkins would always have their baseball program start real young, and now doing this, we are going to get more Heights guys,” Pennington said. “The younger they start the more they can love it. I started a little later. I started when I was 10, so I wish I had this.”
This article originally appeared on Newark Advocate: Licking Heights’ Greg Turchan brings baseball to Reitano SportsCenter