Next Level Baseball Academy to host clinic in Clanton

Published 6:44 pm Friday, March 6, 2015

Next Level Baseball Academy willhost a spring clinic in Clanton on March 7 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

The clinic, held at the youth baseball fields in Clanton, invites players ages 4-12 to come out and pick up skills from the Next Level staff.

The staff—which includes NLBA owner Tyler Courson, a former Faulkner University standout and current associate scout with the Milwaukee Brewers, as well as Josh Kroeger, who spent 13 seasons in professional baseball—will work with attendees on hitting and fielding skills.

“We just want to help kids with the fundamentals,” said NLBA office manager Luke Utsey. “We’ve got a hitting philosophy we feel works well.”

Clanton youth coach Harmon Coppedge said he felt the opportunity for youth players to have a clinic before their seasons start on March 14 was good for all parties.

“One of the main reasons we looked at it was to stir up interest and spark people’s interest in playing league ball,” he said. “They approached us, and we thought it was a good idea.”

Coppedge said the need to do something different in the preseason came from a desire to shake things up, rather than a response to a decline in players.

“We’ve been doing our regular thing, and we thought it would be good to do something different,” he said. “Our numbers are actually higher than last year.”

Utsey said the players will be broken down by ages, with players ages 4-8 working from 9 a.m.-noon, and players ages 9-12 working from 1-4 p.m.

Utsey also said the event helped Next Level’s travel ball program, which is made up of players across the state of Alabama.

“We just want to reach out of Montgomery,” he said. “A big part of out travel ball (league) is getting out. The more people and kids we can see, the better.”

Coppedge said he felt watching players work with people who have experience playing professionally, such as Kroeger, will help the youth league coaches as well.

“I think when anybody with experience at the pro level (teaches), the coaches watching can take something away from that,” he said.

Utsey said players attending will pay $25 at registration, and to “bring what you bring to practice,” in terms of equipment, clothing and expectations.

“(We want to give) a better grasp of fundamentals of baseball,” he said. “And mainly to have fun.”

Coppedge said the clinic was open to anyone, Clanton league member or not.

“You don’t have to play baseball or be signed up,” he said. “You can still come out.”

For more information, visit the Clanton Dizzy Dean Baseball Facebook page, or the Next Level website at