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Twins to hold youth clinics across Lee County

By Staff | Jan 15, 2020

Little Leaguers around Lee County will get the chance to participate in youth clinics put on by the Minnesota Twins in the coming months.

Beginning Jan. 18 in Cape Coral, 10 free youth clinics will be held at parks around the region to give ballplayers of tomorrow an opportunity to learn from the pros.

Each of the clinics are open to youth 5-13 years of age, of all skill levels, or, younger children who are accompanied by an adult.

“The Twins have had a long standing relationship with Lee County,” said Mark Weber, manager of Florida business operations for the Twins. “We feel we can grow the game for boys and girls here in the area.”

The Twins, who call Hammond Stadium home for spring training, have hosted clinics in the county for over a decade, and the team is dedicated to giving the youth here a chance to participate in either baseball or softball activities.

“We want to expand the game to the youth,” Weber said. “We love to bring out the young players and coaches and have some fun for a few hours. We need to make sure kids get a taste of what baseball and softball are all about, and that the Twins organization cares about the youth and giving them a great experience.”

The two-hour clinics will see Twins instructors and younger players in their system teach fundamentals including throwing, hitting and fielding. Weber said that players and coaches alike enjoy getting to spend time with the youth and that for many, it sparks fond memories of when they were a kid playing ball.

“Players love working with the kids,” Weber said. “It brings them back to a youthful time.”

The Twins are even holding clinics for youth with limb restrictions and special needs, ensuring that everyone will get the chance to experience the game of baseball/softball.

“It’s all about giving kids confidence,” Weber said.

The NubAbility Clinic, founded and organized by Sam Kuhnert, who himself was born with one hand, is not age restricted and is aimed at bringing those with limb restrictions onto the field to participate in the game. The clinic’s motto is, “Don’t need 2.”

Weber said the Twins were the first MLB franchise to get involved with Kuhnert and NubAbility, and is a wonderful program for youth.

The Twins, who have been spending the beginning of each Major League season at Hammond Stadium for three decades, work to ensure their clinics reach all areas of Lee County.

“We always want to make sure we touch at least all of the areas of the county,” Weber said.

And they do. The 10 clinics are scattered throughout the county, including Cape Coral, Fort Myers, North Fort Myers, South Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, Dunbar, Buckingham and even Naples.

After each clinic, kids are given a baseball and the opportunity to mingle with the players — no doubt a highlight for them, giving them the chance to have their new favorite player autograph a ball.

“It’s fun to see the players having fun with the kids,” Weber said.

Who knows? Maybe the next star of the Twins will be participating in the upcoming clinics.

The dates, times, locations and contacts of the free clinics are:

– Jan. 18 — Cape Coral Little League/Pelican Baseball Complex, 10 a.m. to noon; 4128 Pelican Blvd., Cape Coral. Contact: Art Avellino at 239-242-3488 or aavellin@capecoral.net

– Jan. 18 — Dunbar Little League/Fort Myers Stars Complex West, 1-3 p.m.; 2980 Edison Ave., Fort Myers. Contact: Shannon Royal at 239-204-1367

– Jan. 25 — Buckingham Little League, 10 a.m. to noon; 9800 Buckingham Road, Fort Myers. Contact: Ryan Karth at Rkarth99@gmail.com

– Jan. 25 — Lehigh Little League, 1-3 p.m.; 1400 West 5th St., Lehigh Acres. Contact: Chris Van Note: 239-443-7813 or Cvannote@ymail.com

– Jan. 31 — NubAbility Clinic (Participants with limb restrictions) at Hammond Stadium; no age restriction; 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; 14100 Six Mile Cypress Parkway, Fort Myers. Contact: Sam Kuhnert at 618-357-0237

– Feb.1 — North Fort Myers Babe Ruth League, 10 a.m. to noon; 2050 North Recreation Parkway, North Fort Myers. Contact: Nate Sund at playnorthbaseball@gmail.com

– Feb. 8 — Tri-County Challenger Little League (Special needs participants), 10 a.m. to noon; Three Oaks Park, 18215 Three Oaks Parkway, Fort Myers. Contact: Rocky Barron 239-292-7857

– Feb. 8 — Greater Naples Little League/ Fleischmann Park, 1 to 3 p.m.; 1600 Fleischmann Blvd., Naples. Contact: Micaela Acres at mracres@rocketmail.com

– Feb. 15 — South Fort Myers Little League/ Rutenberg Park, 10 a.m. to noon; 6500 S. Pointe Blvd., Fort Myers. Contact: Howard Gold (239)-851-2554 or howardgold1124@gmail.com

– Feb. 17 — Twins Open House at Hammond Stadium, after MLB workout, 1-2 p.m.; 14100 Six Mile Cypress Parkway, Fort Myers. Contact: Victor Gonzalez (386)-292-4003 or Mark Weber (239)-887-9326

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj