A fundamental approach

Published 10:43pm Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The TopHand Baseball and Softball Camp comes to Suffolk for the first time next week at the Suffolk Youth Athletic Association’s Diamond Springs Park with the goal of raising the caliber of Suffolk’s young athletes.

The camp is a family operation run by King’s Fork High School athletic director Randy Jessee and his son Rustin Jessee, and it has a clear goal for boys and girls between the ages of 6-14.

TopHand Sports baseball camp instructor Horace Smith III teaches a group of campers about pitching last month in Southampton County. Smith is an example of the high caliber instructors that campers can expect. Smith played for coach Randy Jessee at Greensville County High School, pitched at Norfolk State University and is currently a coach at Hampton University and instructor with 7 Cities Sports, a training organization dedicated to professional skill development.
TopHand Sports baseball camp instructor Horace Smith III teaches a group of campers about pitching last month in Southampton County. Smith is an example of the high caliber instructors that campers can expect. Smith played for coach Randy Jessee at Greensville County High School, pitched at Norfolk State University and is currently a coach at Hampton University and instructor with 7 Cities Sports, a training organization dedicated to professional skill development.

Kids should come for “an opportunity to get a first-hand look at the fundamentals that are important in baseball,” Randy Jessee said.

He pointed out that many young players skip the fundamentals and rely upon their athleticism to defeat opponents. Once players get older and the competition is equally athletic, lacking skill in those basics becomes the difference between wins and losses.

With TopHand, campers will get five days of hitting, fielding and pitching instruction from King’s Fork head baseball coach Pat Stafford, Lady Bulldogs head softball coach Richard Froemel, King’s Fork assistant Dave Berman, Windsor High School softball coach Sean Wade and the Jessees.

Each camper will also be given a personalized instructional DVD depicting baseball drills with audio instruction from the staff. It can serve as a way to review what was taught even after the camp is over.

Randy Jessee, who has 15 years of experience coaching high school baseball and eight years of experience leading AAU teams, started TopHand in 1993 and ran it until around 2005. His son, Rustin, began teaching and coaching at Greensville County High School, like his dad, and wanted to start the camps again. His father started to see a need for them, as well.

With 50 years of combined service in sports via playing, coaching, officiating and parenting, the father-son duo restarted TopHand last year. Because of the camps’ past success, the Jessees have enjoyed good word-of-mouth referrals and added participants from reliable sources.

“All the kids who came through would always tell us how much they enjoyed being in the camps,” Randy Jessee said. “I’ve actually got kids who were in my camps before that have kids now in our camp.”

Stafford also coaches the 16U Mid Atlantic Pirates showcase team, but he is excited about how this camp could affect his coaching job at King’s Fork.

“Especially with it being in our backyard at SYAA, I am looking forward to getting a feel for who I’ve got coming up,” he said.

SYAA baseball/softball commissioner Darren Brown said that SYAA is happy to host TopHand and give people the opportunity to use and see what SYAA has to offer in the way of facilities.

“It’s the down time of the year for us, and it just allows our park to be utilized more in the off-season,” he said.

He also noted the timeliness of the camp as SYAA’s fall registration begins shortly, giving campers an easy opportunity to sign up if they are interested.

The camp, which also typically enjoys a good showing on the softball side, will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday.

It is recommended for participants to bring a glove, bat, baseball pants, hat, sunscreen and cleats. Concessions will be available for purchase.

General registration is open until July 22 and the cost per child is $160. To register, visit www.tophandsports.com, or campers can also register on Monday morning at 8 a.m. at Diamond Springs Park.

For more information, contact coach Randy Jessee at 818-1822 or Rustin Jessee at 537-8480 or rjessee5@gmail.com.

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