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Casey's Champions Camp teaches competitive ball

Former Major Leaguer assembles talented coaches, raises funds for charity

A couple of June institutions -- MLB's First-Year Player Draft and the start of camp season for out-of-school youngsters -- will mesh next week in Upper St. Clair, Pa.

Not explicitly, of course. But the Draft is the fanciful destination of every kid playing baseball. And Sean Casey's Champions Baseball Camp can help him get there.

The disconnect begins right there: The June 17-19 camp is open to both boys and girls, while the Draft is still gender-limited.

The camp's main mission is as a fundraiser for Casey's Clubhouse and the Miracle League of South Hills, dedicated to developing, in partnership with Pirates Charities, a unique playground for kids of all abilities.

But it is also all about learning to play ball at the most competitive level, and Sean Casey, the affable recent Major Leaguer who ended a 12-year career with a .302 lifetime average, is confident everyone will be a better ballplayer -- physically and mentally -- when they leave than when they arrive.

"If you want to learn new drills," Casey said, "to discover the mental side to baseball, gain valuable instruction from the best coaches in the country, and have an awesome time ... this camp is for you. This is a serious baseball camp for the serious baseball player."

For his second annual Champions Camp, Casey has assembled an instructional staff with more than a hundred years of collective pro ball experience, featuring such mavens as former big league outfielder Dave Collins and Duquesne baseball coach Mike Wilson.

"The coaches that I bring in to instruct have been involved with baseball all of their lives," said Casey, who is extremely proud of this endeavor. "Their expertise in the game ranges from high school ball to the Major Leagues."

Campers not only receive specialized and age-specific instruction for three days -- divided into morning sessions for players 9 through 12, and afternoon sets for the more experienced 13-to-18-year-olds -- but they take home detailed workout regimens that guide them through drills to continue practicing what they had learned.

The camp cost of $449 comes with a couple of significant perks: Campers receive a goody bag of over $200 worth of merchandise from such major brands as Under Armour, Marucci and Rawlings, and all of the proceeds going to the playground cause makes the fee tax deductible.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer.

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