SHU Baseball Coaches Offer Free Instruction for Local Little League Coaches
With a rock-hard crust of snow on the ground and recent frostbite-inducing air temperatures, it seems untimely to be thinking about baseball. But jocks like Sacred Heart University Pitching Coach Wayne Mazzoni never stop thinking about it—or ways to perpetuate and improve how the sport is taught and played. On Sunday, February 22, he, fellow SHU Assistant Coach Nick Restaino and SHU Head Baseball Coach Nick Giaquinto conducted a free two-hour 2015 Fall Coaches Clinic at the Batter’s Box in Norwalk. The session targeted Fairfield- and Bridgeport-based adults who would like to manage/coach at any level of Little League play (Future Stars to Intermediate, ages five to 13).
Besides his SHU role, Mazzoni, a resident of the Black Rock section of Bridgeport, is on the board of the Black Rock Little League, has a 10-year-old son who plays in the league and is always on the hunt for funding to provide scholarships, maintain fields and purchase equipment for the local organization. He also runs a baseball camp for young children four consecutive weekends during the winter. Together with fellow SHU staff members, Mazzoni has been hosting clinics like the aforementioned for a few years now. “Baseball is one of the worst-coached sports,” Mazzoni says candidly. “There are people who think they can teach it just because they’ve played it. Our goal is to teach them properly—the technical aspects, practices and how to keep it fun, interesting and positive. It’s a sport of failure. We address the mental, mechanical and instructional aspects.”
This time last year, Mazzoni and fellow staff facilitated the clinic for close to 100 area Little League coaches, at Triple Play in Trumbull, which has since closed. Each of the three clinic leaders covers a different topic. Mazzoni speaks to the basics of teaching throwing and pitching and advanced pitching. Giaquinto talks about infield play, organizing practices and positive coaching. Restaino shows how to teach hitting, catching and outfield play.
The trio step to the plate with a lot of experience between them. Giaquinto has been SHU’s Head Baseball Coach for 26 years. Mazzoni has 20 years in college coaching, has spoken at the American Baseball Coaches Convention, been spotlighted at the World Baseball Coaches Convention at Mohegan Sun, published a variety of books and videos, given thousands of individual lessons all over Connecticut and pitched at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. Restaino was Manhattan Baseball’s assistant coach from 1994-1995 and associate and head coach for Fordham Baseball from 1998 to 2011.
Wayne Righter, a local coach with Fairfield American, has found the SHU crew’s guidance invaluable, noting, “Fairfield American Little League would like to thank Coach Giaquinto and Coach Mazzoni for setting up the second annual SHU Coaching Clinic. Coach G and Coach Mazz’s love for baseball is infectious. The clinic is a great learning experience that all of our coaches can take back to their teams. It does not end after the clinic. They encourage us to email them at any time about anything baseball. All of our coaches and players benefit from their baseball knowledge.”
With a goal of helping promote the sport and making it a more enjoyable experience for kids, along with creating community goodwill, the clinic mirrors SHU’s overall mission of community service. “It’s an opportunity to reach out to local areas, make an impact and connect with like-minded people,” notes Mazzoni.