Breakthrough Series special for Collier family
The smile on Lou Collier’s face tells you how much he loves the game of baseball. Here he is, 14 years after playing his last game in professional baseball, coaching in the 2021 Breakthrough Series in Vero Beach, Fla.
The Breakthrough Series, established in 2008, is a joint effort on behalf of USA Baseball and Major League Baseball. The program is located at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex, which was once the Dodgers' Spring Training facility. It's a five-day event that ended Friday.
The Breakthrough Series is a unique program that focuses on developing young African American high school players on and off the field through seminars, mentorship, scout evaluations, video coverage and the highest level of instruction, all while providing a platform for the players to perform for scouts and collegiate coaches.
Collier said he was as excited to be on the field as the high school kids.
“Just to teach the game and to give back to the kids. Just try to grow the game,” Collier said. “I’ve seen this program grow at the beginning stages to where it’s at now. I’m really happy to be a part of it.
“These kids are blessed. They are around ex-Major Leaguers, guys that could impact them, guys that could lead them in the right direction -- not only on the field, but off the field, because character is big. I want these kids to understand that being a good-character kid can open up more doors than your talent will. We stressed that to the kids. We stress about work ethic. Take advantage of these opportunities.”
There is another reason Collier is enthusiastic about being part of the program. His son, Cam Collier, a third-base prospect from Mt. Paran Christian High School in Austell, Ga., is in camp, getting sound advice from former Major Leaguers such as Ken Griffey Sr. and Fred McGriff.
“I’ve met a lot of new people from this [program]. I’ve got a lot better,” said Cam, who is in his third year in the program. “It’s a great experience being in Dodgertown again.”
Cam is not afraid to go to his father whenever he is doing something wrong on the field. It helps that Lou records his son’s at-bats, then sends him a text on what he needs to do to correct the problem.
“Instead of fighting me, he can look at the video and read [the text]. Now he knows,” Lou said. “When we get out on the field, we work on it. There is no arguing, because he can see what I’m talking about. As he matured, he started to understand. He stopped fighting, and that’s when his development shot through the roof. It’s been great the last few years.”