Photo credit Jen Parente
New York Yankees legend Mariano RIvera made a surprise visit to A-Games Sports Baseball Camp in New Rochelle turning City Park into the Field of Dreams. Mariano not only made an appearance, but he spent hours giving young baseball players an experience of a lifetime.
The sun was shining and campers at A-Game Sports camp had finished their warm ups and had begun their rotations doing their fielding drills and base running when much to their amazement, Mariano Rivera came casually walking onto the field. You can only imagine what it must have been like for these kids to have the opportunity to not only meet this future Yankee Hall of Famer, but to have the opportunity to actually have a practice and get words of wisdom from him. With a smile on his face, Mariano took to the field with the kids personally interacting with them offering great advice on their fielding mechanics, throwing, proper grip and pitching stances. He took the time to demonstrate proper techniques and instill in them that they need to stay focused and determined and they’ll have no problem succeeding. Imagine hearing “good job” from a pro baseball icon? For A-Game Sports, this was a day for the record books.
A-Game Sports believes in giving back to the community, a sentiment much the same as Mariano Rivera’s. As part of their Inaugural summer camp, A-Game offers a “Hit the Books” Scholarship Program awarding one deserving camper a scholarship that covers a minimum of one week and as many as six weeks entitling the camper to attend at no cost. The candidates have to show proof of excellent academics as well as a letter from their teacher or coach during the most recent school year. The program is designed and reserved for candidates who may find the fees too challenging to otherwise pay. A-Game presented the scholarship program during their open house to Refuge of Hope Church in which Mariano Rivera and his wife Clara are strongly attached to. The camp went to the church and talked to the families about children that qualified for the scholarship and several of the children from the parish were chosen. Upon hearing about the phenomenal program that A-Games is offering, Mariano was intrigued and accepted an invite to come and visit the camp at City Park. When Mariano was asked about his experience at the camp he replied “ Visiting the baseball camp was a beautiful experience. I was supposed to stay 20 minutes, but I stayed for almost two hours. It was so worth it. It was a privilege for me to be there”
A-Game Sports was founded in 2013 by former wall street executives Darin Feldman and Kevin Plein. The ideology behind their developing the program was that hard work and having fun could truly come together into reality. Darin is committed to the philosophy that any child with a passion for sports can learn to play and excel in the game that they love, but it starts at a young age. A-Game Sports was created in hopes to provide a place for kids to be properly trained on a personal level so they not only know what they’re doing on the field, but that they’re also using their muscles the right way and learning important strategies to help them excel. Kevin Plein, having the same commitment to early learning and love of baseball was a former player himself. From the sand lots of Long Island to playing Little League and Babe Ruth Baseball, Kevin was selected as MVP by Brooklyn’s 72nd Precinct team as well as Pitching and playing center field for Long Island University. Kevin played softball in the Big Apple Softball League and has coached his children’s softball leagues and travel teams for more then 10 years and currently resides in New Rochelle. Both Darin and Kevin were baseball players growing up, and their partnership in A-Game Sports is giving these young kids an opportunity to reap the benefits of excellence in training. A-Game Sports is a 5 day a week Baseball camp for boys and girls between 7 – 14 years old. Camp is primarily held at New Rochelle’s City Park ( Flowers Park) . What sets this program apart from the rest is not only their scholarship program but also the staff and 5-1 camp councilor ratio. Its an instructional type camp and it was important that the staff consisted of highly trained qualified personnel to instruct the kids. Heading the program is Jose Reyes, who has been teaching and training baseball players for many years. Jose is a Westchester native who played for the Indians at Roosevelt HS leading them to two conference championships and was names MVP. He represented the Hudson Valley in the Empire State Games and College select club team. Jose played college ball with Post University in CT and played professionally in the Can-Am League with the NY Federals in 2011 and the Rockland Boulders in 2012. He has a strong appreciation for student athletes and provides the kids not only with top notch training but emphasizes that school and their education is priority. A-Game also has a Strength and Conditioning coach, Taylor Gregory graduated from TCNJ and was a three-time Academic Honoree while competing in intercollegiate athletics. He was a part of a highly respected and widely recognized Exercise Science Program and has coached numerous sports including baseball. His expertise includes developing and implementing speed, agility, conditioning and resistance training for athletic teams on all levels. Combining all of the assets that the A-Games staff offers along with trained councilors is giving them that cutting edge ability to produce thoroughly trained young athletes at their camp.
A-Game’s baseball camp is getting rave reviews and the emails from parents come in regularly thanking them for the program and complimenting them on what an impact it’s had on their kids. The camp is doing exactly what they pride themselves in, and that’s building not only better athletes, but better people. Summertime is about having fun, and A-Game Sports has made that their #1 priority.