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Brewers Baseball Academy returns to UWPlatteville
49 youngsters take part in Major League Baseball sponsored camp
brewers camp 1
Tim Rappe, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Academy, address the campers on Friday afternoon prior to handing out camp awards. - photo by Photo by Jason Nihles

For the second time in three years, the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Academy hosted a youth camp on the UW–Platteville campus. 

 This year’s five-day camp, held last week, had 49 boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 14 learning about baseball and softball in a brand new Brewers’ uniform they get to keep. 

Coach Isaac Valdez was the Field Director for the camp and he was assisted by nine area baseball coaches and former college players, including current Belmont baseball coach and former UW–Platteville infielder Trevor Kattre and former Belmont standout and current UWP pitcher Lane Kamps.

The week of June 19 had some rain, but the camp went on as scheduled, moving the instruction from Kendall Murray baseball field to Williams Fieldhouse during sessions where Mother Nature intervened. 

On Tuesday, the camp took a trip to Miller Park in Milwaukee. The kids got a VIP experience including tours of the media center, dugouts, bullpens and locker room area.  Plus, they got to see and unscheduled closing of Miller Park’s retractable roof.

To begin their day, long-time bullpen catcher/coach Marcus Hanel spoke to the kids and talked about his childhood and the importance of playing outside.  After he asked how many kids played video games, Hanel told them if they wanted to get better at sports that they had to stop that and get outside and play.  

A walk around the warning track gave kids a perspective of the size of the field. Mixed in the tour, in their small groups, the kids did various drills like fielding off the wall, catching at the wall, and grounders.  During the tour, all the kids met current Brewers starting pitcher, the 6’6” Jimmy Nelson, who showed the campers how he watches film to studying opposing batters. 

The Brewers youth camp from Fond du Lac shared the day as well.  

At the end of the tour, another current player, relief pitcher Jacob Barnes, spoke to the kids and answer questions. Barnes played a lot of third base in high school and college, and idolized former Atlanta Braves’ All-Star Chipper Jones, but since he can throw the ball in the upper 90s, he found a place in the majors as a pitcher.

 The 2016 summer didn’t feature a Brewers camp in Platteville, but work began on its return for this summer.  

Don Francis, the Summer Camps Coordinator at UW–Platteville, recruited some local help. Bill Kloster, director of the UW–Platteville Real Estate Foundation, and Bryan Schwark, former UW–Platteville professor, formed a team in November to find sponsorship to bring the camp back to town in 2017.  

One of the main reasons the camp didn’t return was because the bus trip from Platteville costs more than any other camp. The focus was to cut the cost of the bus trip, so the total cost to attend the camp was a comparable cost to the other Brewers camps held throughout the state.

This year’s Platteville camp was also special because three full scholarships were awarded to area ballplayers who won an essay contest on why they wanted to attend the camp. 

The Platteville Youth Diamond Sports organization also played a big part in bringing the camp back to Platteville. PYDS scrutinized the applications and selected the three scholarship winners.  

In total, more than $2,000 was raised toward the bus trip and scholarships. Dairy Queen and the Platteville American Legion each sponsored a full scholarship, while funds raised from the additional sponsors combined to fund the third scholarship.  

Kwik Trip is the title sponsor of the Brewers Baseball Academy throughout the state. Two $20 Kwik Trip gift cards were given out each daily for various competition awards. 

A customized Brewers jersey, a Brewers T-shirt, a Jonathan Villar autographed baseball and a Scooter Gennett poster were handed out to award winners on Friday. 

The regional 2017 Skills Competition award winners were also announced Friday at the conclusion of camp. The regional winners are in the running to qualify for the statewide Skills Competition championship that will be held later this summer at Miller Park.  

The top finishers the skills competition at the Platteville camp were: Boys grades 1–2, Carson Klein, first; Lane Martin, second; Griffin McNett, third. Girls grades 1–2, Adeline Francis, first. Boys grades 3–4, Adam Cody, first; Evan Kearns, second; Jentry Olson, third. Girls grades 3–4, Addison McNett, first. Boys grades 5–6, Micah Salisbury, first; Riley Donahoe, second; Garrison Tashner, third. Girls grades 5–6, Molly Puls, first; Ciersten Gavin, second. Boys grades 7–8, Joshua Cartwright, first; Dylan Prestegard, second; Logan Smith, third. Girls 7–8, Braelyn Mowry, first; Abby Koslowki, second.

Several local sponsors also made this year’s camp a success, including, Steve’s Pizza (John Patakos), Roy Shaver (UWP Chemistry Professor Emeritus), Ubersox Auto (Mike Ubersox), Pioneer Ford Sales (Ron and Tim Boldt), Subway (Randy Zeske), Dairy Queen (Tom Sigwarth), Fiesta Cancun (Jose Pacheco), Faherty Inc., McDonald’s of Platteville & Galena (Glenn Karpinske), A&W (Jeremy Patnaude), and the Platteville American Legion.

Camp organizers are hopeful the local sponsors’ support will pave the way for the camp to return in 2018.