Ivy League baseball showcase's size, drills makes for 'immersed' experience

Photo: Quakes Baseball Academy

Ivy League baseball showcase's size, drills makes for 'immersed' experience

Baseball

Ivy League baseball showcase's size, drills makes for 'immersed' experience

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The Quakes Baseball Academy’s upcoming camp for Ivy League hopefuls provides two ways for students to maximize the time in front of coaches.

In only inviting 65 participants and having college coaches participate in the drills, players are able to make larger impressions and get to know coaches on a personal level – coaches from schools the players already have interest in.

Chasen Ford, a former Yale player drafted by the San Diego Padres who attended the camp in 2011, said it had a more “intimate” feel.

“(The coaches are) talking to you, it’s a little more intimate, and they see everything that you do,” he said. “You’re kind of more attentive the entire time.”

This weekend, coaches from MIT, UC Irvine and every Ivy League school but Harvard will take the trip to Southern California for the All Academic Showcase Camp led by former MLB player John Elliott and his wife, Brittin Hilyard.

“Where we are in Orange County, so many of the kids are all in AP classes. They have these high test scores and GPAs, and I just started thinking: Why wouldn’t we try and get college coaches out here to see if they wanted to do a camp and work with the kids, and see a big group of California kids all in one venue rather than kids going to each individual school?” Hilyard said.

“It’s much more cost-effective for a parent to go to 2-day camp 10 miles from their home rather than go to each Ivy League school.”

That convenience and cost has attracted students from different states across the country including Maine and Florida. Eleven years later, the program continues on.

The camp puts “student” in “student-athlete.” Applicants must have a GPA of at least 3.5, an ACT score of about 27 (out of 36) and an SAT score around 1350 (out of 1600), Elliott said, and practice tests such as the PSAT are reviewed for younger players. Athletes must not only have the skill level to play at a Div. 1 school, but also the academic level to succeed in an Ivy League university.

Ivy League schools are looking for students more well-rounded than simply those at the top of the test list. A Yale coach told Elliott the school rejects 300 to 400 applicants with perfect test scores each year, as they prioritize finding well-rounded individuals.

“It’s very hard getting in and some the kids that have gotten in have gotten in because of baseball,” Elliott said. “Having something that is going to assist them get to that school and help them be a part of that school, is why baseball’s important.”

The universities also want to field competitive baseball programs.

That’s something Elliott and Hilyard help facilitate as applications come in. Some athletes apply for the camp to get into the school without much interest in playing for and sticking with the team, Ford said.

“There’s a twisted view of Ivy League baseball. Everyone thinks it’s not competitive,” he said “You use baseball to get into the school and then … you’re done.

“…I think John right off the bat and the coaches as well do a very good job kind of establishing they’re competitive D-1 programs and they’re looking for players as such.”

With that, it’s a mutually-beneficial setup. The schools are watching athletes who are qualified for the academic requirements, and the athletes get to show their talents for specific schools they’re interested in.

And with such a small group of athletes, it’s easy for the coaches to observe the players.

Ford attended two large camps, and while he was complimentary of them, he said the atmosphere was different with the hundreds of kids.

“You kind of get lost in the crowd,” he said. The structure of camps big or small are the same, but with the sheer size of the larger showcases, college coaches often don’t give feedback unless it’s glaring.

The Ivy League camp was a more “immersed” experience for Ford, with more conversation and personal connection between players and coaches.

Obviously, there was also baseball interaction and input too.

“Of any showcase I went to, that was the one where I kind of had a ‘now or never,’ I don’t really want to say that, but kind of a ‘put up or shut up’ attitude,” Ford said.

“Those are schools that you have dreamed to go to and this is really the only camp where it’s just them. They get to see you and you put a lot of pressure on yourself to make that one opportunity count.”

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