Pros volunteer to instruct youth
Shawn Estes was on the mound in Gardnerville again Saturday, but this time he was coaching young pitchers in a one-day baseball and softball clinic at Lampe Park in Gardnerville.
The former Douglas High School standout is now hurling for the San Francisco Giants, but for the third year Estes donated his time to help youngsters working on their athletic skills. The clinic was organized by the MeFiYi Foundation.
MeFiYi spokesman Jo Jo Townsell said several other nationally ranked athletes with ties to Northern Nevada also came to Lampe to instruct the young players, including USA Olympic softball team member Jody Schwartz, Amy Prebble of the Sonoma State women’s softball team, Arizona Diamondbacks scout Keith Lowe and Reese Borges and the Houston Astros.
Borges said when he was growing up and learning to play in Reno, there weren’t any national-level athletes coming to the area to provide encouragement and role models for youngsters.
“That’s why I’m here today, to do that for these kids,” said Borges, who went from Hug High to Lassen Junior College before he was signed by the Florida Marlins.
Borges and Estes worked with the youngsters at the pitcher’s mound, providing tips as boys and girls each made several pitches.
Schwartz coached the players on outfield skills, and Prebble gave infield instruction through most of the day. In the afternoon, the kids got to apply the teaching in a full ballgame, Townsell said, another Hug grad who played football at UCLA and later for the New York Jets.
Providing encouragement throughout the camp was Lowe, who followed a career with the Cardinals by scouting for 40 years for the Yankees, the Indians and now the Diamondbacks. Lowe’s sharp eye helped launch the career of many pro players over those decades, including Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers and Bob Gibson. He’s tried to settle into retirement at his Gardnerville home, but somehow the phone calls each spring still draw Lowe out to the bleachers.
Volunteers from MeFiYi assisted throughout the day, providing beverages, T-shirts and encouragement. Townsell said the foundation works throughout Northern Nevada to encourage and support sports activities for youngsters.