Learning from the best
Stephen Mullaley, Jeremy O’Reilly hold softball clinic in Dunville
You might as well call Freshwater native’s Stephen Mullaley’s moto ‘ hands up.’
It’s something he said over and over during a recent softball clinic he and Jeremy O’Reilly put off at the William P. Hogan Softball field in Dunville on June 28.
One of the best softball hitters in the world, Mullaley was teaching the six steps to becoming successful at the plate to over 60 young athletes from the Placentia region.
Divided into two sessions, the players watched as Mullaley and O’Reilly showed them the finer points of hitting the softball a long way.
At the front of that address was always ‘ hands up.’ It initiates everything for a hitter and is something young players should practice early and often.
Over the course of two hours, players learned from two of the best to come out of Placentia and the province as a whole.
“With the turnout today, we’re absolutely blown away,” said Mullaley. “We didn’t know if would get five kids. We didn’t know what to expect.
“To see the turnout was fantastic.”
O’Reilly had put off a couple in the area before, but it was a first for Mullaley. The played together the previous weekend in Ontario, and decided to put if off last week.
“We said, ‘Let’s do it when we get back,’” said Mullaley. “We put it out there with the support of the parents, the coaches and the schools and then we were able to get a big turnout.”
The idea was to teach the fundamentals that go into a good ballplayer, while keeping things light and fun.
They certainly accomplished that. Players bounced between hitting sessions during their first hour.
They took turns swinging a weight bat — in some cases, the bat swung them but that’s OK — hitting the ball off a tee and taking soft tosses from Mullaley himself.
O’Reilly moved along with the players, offering encouragement and tips where he could.
When the instructor was at a certain station, the kids picked their bats up a little quicker and swung a little harder.
It wasn’t only hitting fundamentals covered on the day. There were throwing, fielding and other drills aimed at making the youngsters better players.
“I came out here for a bit of fun and to learn some fundamental skills,” said Placentia’s Bradyn Williams. “It was a pretty good experience. I mean, they’re both on Team Canada.”
For Mullaley and O’Reilly, the clinic was about more than the game. It was about recognizing where they got their start and giving back to the program.
It’s a notion that drives athletes sometimes. They want to make sure young players get the proper learning opportunities that can give them a shot to get as far as possible in the game.
Mullaley credited the support they get from the town as a whole as a main reason for wanting to put off the clinic.
“Jeremy and I are both products of people giving back their time, their patience and their
knowledge … and we feel that we can do that now and come back,” he said in between the morning and afternoon session. “We wanted to make it fun, but also some of the drills that we had growing up and helped us get here.
“Who knows who the next great ball player is and they very well could be in that group.”
Things lined up pretty well for Mullaley and O’Reilly to put off the clinic. The Hill United Chiefs Rock Invitational was last week, which featured both of the Chiefs (Mullaley) and the Toronto Gators (O’Reilly).
The hope is to make this an annual thing.
“I’d love to see that happen,” he said. “It’s always a goal to come home. If this softball tournament turns into an annual thing, we’ll 100 per cent try to make this an annual thing.”
Freshwater native and Team Canada member Stephen Mullaley chats with a young athlete in Dunville on June 28.