RailRiders University: Training the next generation of baseball players

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MOOSIC, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It may have been cold outside Tuesday night but some young baseball players brought the heat to Lackawanna County.

A swing and a hit. Practice was in session at PNC Field for the RailRiders University Winter Clinic.

“It’s really fun. I like all the cool teachers here, and it’s just a lot of space to hit, and to field and it’s really cool,” Jack Nalevanko of Waverly said.

The program is an opportunity for young baseball players like Nalevanko to improve all areas of their game and learn from some of the pros in their community.

Hitting coach Russ Canzler brings 12 years of professional baseball experience to the batting cage. The Hazleton Area graduate, who has major-league experience, helps kids hone their swings and have fun.

“It starts with the love of the game and passion to get better so if we could kind of kindle those things at a young age at the clinic, that’s obviously a big thrill for us,” Canzler said.

Sessions are tailored to different positions on the diamond. From rookies to vets, players of all ages set individuals goals to work toward.

“I started with an open stance, and now I’ve closed my stance off a little bit to make it more simple,” Reese Zalewski of Scranton said.

Many local high school coaches take part in the program.

“Kids love to play baseball. So, anytime they get a chance to work on that skill and enhance their skills, it’s always a fun time,” RailRiders University/Abington Heights head coach Bill Zalewski said.

Most of all, it encourages the next generation to dream big.

“I want to become a famous baseball player sometime, and I hope this camp gets me there,” Nalevanko said.

RailRiders University was founded in 2016. The organization offers multiple camps each year.

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