By Linda K. Landy….
It’s a far cry from the two dusty baseball fields accessed by a muddy, unpaved parking lot when my boys helped inaugurate Danny Berry’s JCC Baseball in 1993. As the physical facilities have grown, so has the variety of programs.
Coach Berry offers a unique brand of youth baseball through a wide variety of leagues, clinics, camps, school vacation mini-camps and parties. There’s also flag football, a men’s softball league and all star traveling teams.
The impressive Phyllis and Arnold Grossman Ball Park now features six lighted ball fields, 10 lighted automated batting cages, five pitching tunnels, a concession stand, air conditioned bathrooms and an All Star Sports Store where players can choose from a large selection of top-of-the-line equipment. And a paved parking lot!
This summer Danny Berry’s Kendall Little League 11-12 year old All Star Team made it all the way to the state tournament championship game. Sanctioned by Little League Baseball, the teams coached by volunteers are open to players age three to 12 living in Miami-Dade County south of Bird Road. Players age 11to12 are eligible to advance to the Little League World Series.
The other big story is the new Danny Berry Diamondbacks Softball Academy coached by USA Baseball Women’s National Team catcher Veronica Alvarez. Girls of all skill levels age six to 13 can play Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m. Coach Alvarez had a team-high batting average of .750 at the 2008 World Cup.
Also, former University of Miami baseball coach Lazer Collazo is now available for private and group lessons.
What hasn’t changed is Coach Berry’s emphasis on player development and team interaction. Parents are discouraged from coaching during a game from the bleachers and asked to reinforce the message that that as long as you try your best, it’s okay to lose. Frequent positive reinforcement helps players build selfesteem. At the daily award ceremony children are recognized for “hustle” and improvement as well as home runs and great plays.
Danny Berry Diamondbacks Baseball Academy offers year-round instructional leagues with professional coaches for boys and girls three to 12. Emphasis is on fun and instruction with authentic big league uniforms. Players practice two or three times during the week and games are played on Saturday. Registration is now open for the fall league which begins Aug. 29.
An introduction to baseball clinic for boys and girls 3 and 4-years-old is designed to introduce the fundamentals of baseball with strong consideration for the physical and emotional needs of young children. For the more competitive player, Coach Berry maintains traveling teams for boys age six to 13 who play against other local leagues but also adhere to his rules of fairness and pressure. Games are played at Danny Berry’s JCC facility.
One of Coach Berry’s most popular programs is his winter vacation, summer and spring break camps. The half- or full-day sessions include exciting pennant races, as well as, solid instruction and the ever-popular awards ceremonies (I couldn’t begin to count the number I have sat through). Full day campers will receive lunch and snack, field trips and other sports activities.
Flag (no contact) football is also offered on Saturdays (afternoons for children age five to 12 and mornings for players 13 to 18) beginning Sept. 10. The program is true to Coach Berry’s philosophy of providing a non-pressured, fun-filled environment stressing the importance of sportsmanship, physical fitness, goal setting/achievement and, most importantly, teamwork. Every child will have an equal opportunity to play in the each game.
You haven’t lived until you’ve attended a Danny Berry baseball or flag football birthday party. My photo albums are full of pictures of Danny Berry baseball. I can report with all honesty that the kids had a really great time, but the adults had an even better time. Each special day includes an exciting one hour instructional game led by two coaches and concludes with, that’s right, an awards ceremony (seeing a trend here?).
The baseball fields heat up on Sunday mornings, when the men come out for a friendly, but competitive softball league from 8 a.m. to noon. You don’t have to be a superstar to play in the league; its all about having fun. Bring in a whole team or let Coach Berry find you a team looking for another player.
The program is open to everyone regardless of race, religion or gender, and you don’t have to be a member of the J. For more information call 305-271-9000, ext. 241, or visit <www.dannyberry.com>.