Spartans' summer camp much-needed release for coaches and kids

For the University of Tampa's head baseball coach, Joe Urso, and assistant head coach, Sam Militello this is the time of year they look forward to every year, but teaching the game of baseball to youngsters at the Spartans Summer Camp is a new challenge.

Urso said they have to keep the groups to 10 or fewer. That's 9 kids and a coach at each field, rotating through the camp, keeping as much distance as possible.

The camp usually draws upwards of 100 kids per week, but this year spots are capped a 50 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The city of Tampa let the Spartans play ball at the Palma Ceia Little League fields, but with a lot more restrictions and guidelines.

"There's a temperature check every morning to make sure that everyone is under 100.4 or else that have to go home," Coach Militello said. "We have hand sanitizing stations. We have the limits of what we put on the field. We are disinfecting all the balls after each day."

It's hard to tell who needed this camp more, the kids or the coaches. After being confined to home for the last three months, both needed a release.

"I think every one of use has been wanting to get back and play sports," Urso said with a big smile.

Being able to work with these kids is giving UT's coaches their baseball fix because their high school summer camps have been canceled, which really prevents them from getting a hands-on look at potential recruits.

"It hurts," said Militello. "Especially now in June when you have some holes to fill on your roster and you're not able to go out and see some guys. Our backs are against the wall in trying to fill some of these spots.

This is a kid's game at the purest level and, for now, it's the only game being played.