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By Greg Johnson
While the site for the 2011 Men’s College World Series is new, a familiar related event will take place at the college baseball classic.
The Men’s College World Series Youth Clinics, a community-outreach program that connects under-served populations in conjunction with select NCAA championships, are making a return visit to Omaha. The College World Series begins Saturday at the new TD Ameritrade Park.
For the past 20 years, Wilbert Ellis has been a major contributor to the clinics. Ellis, who retired in 2003 after guiding the Grambling State baseball program as an assistant and head coach since 1960, is set to take part again this year.
The Special Olympics Clinic will take place Friday from 8:30-10:30 a.m., followed by the Community Clinic on Saturday and Sunday (8 a.m.-noon). All of the clinics will take place on the campus baseball field at Creighton.
“Baseball has always been a part of my life, and when I got the opportunity to work with youth at the national level, I accepted it,” said Ellis, who played baseball at Grambling, where he graduated in 1959 with a degree in physical education. “I wanted to give something back in the game of baseball and help develop the skills of individuals. These youth programs have been a big part of my life.”
The clinics are open to youth ages 8-16. They receive on- and off-the-field instruction from 13 NCAA Division I head and assistant baseball coaches and some of their student-athletes.
The 30-minute on-the-field sessions include baserunning/conditioning, hitting and defensive drills. These sessions also emphasize smart nutritional choices.
Participants, who can walk up and register at 7:30 a.m. on the day of the free event, are also given advice on leading healthy lifestyles and displaying proper sportsmanship.
Parents and guardians receive information about college recruiting, initial eligibility and youth-sports issues, too.
“Some years we’ve had as many as 600 or 700 kids come through the clinics,” said Ellis, who was promoted from assistant to head Grambling State baseball coach by the legendary Eddie Robinson in 1978.
The other Division I baseball coaches scheduled to take part are:
Ellis, who was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007 for winning more than 700 games as a head coach at Grambling State, says clinic work never becomes old.
“One of the most enjoyable moments for me is adding the Special Olympics Clinic,” Ellis said. “They enjoy being around the game.”