The Canton Modified Baseball Team started practice this week, which included work with college-level players and coaches who volunteered their time to help the Bears as they prepare for the 2022 season.

On Wednesday, former SUNY Canton catcher Joe Campbell came to practice and worked with the Bears’ three catchers on some position-specific techniques, including throwing, blocking, positioning and hand- and foot-work. Campbell played at SUNY Canton from 2016-19 with new Canton Modified Assistant Coach Francesco Palumbo.

Palumbo has returned to help his former modified coach, Mark Mende, and share his college baseball experience with this generation of the Bears. Palumbo, who graduated from Canton C.S. in 2014 and played for Coach Mende in 2009 and 2010, graduated from SUNY Canton in 2018. He earned his master’s in sports management, as well as an MBA, from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and is currently serving as Senior Venue Manager for the 2023 Winter World University Games, which will be held next winter and based in Lake Placid. His focus is on the ice hockey venues that will include some of the local colleges.

Coach Palumbo has brought some new ideas to the old, tired methods of Coach Mende, including some new stretching and warm-up drills, and he has also introduced some weight training exercises to the players.

Saints working with Bears with their fielding technique during the Thursday evening clinic.

On Thursday, the entire modified team moved across the village and had its practice in Leithead Field House with the St. Lawrence University baseball team. St. Lawrence Head Coach Kenny Collins and Assistant Coach Justin Devoid, along with about a dozen of the team’s players, volunteered their time and talents to work with the seventh, eighth and ninth graders getting ready for the season.

Coach Collins and his crew spent 90 minutes working with the modified players on hitting, fielding and throwing, as well as some more work for the Bears’ catching trio from the SLU catchers. It was a great evening for the Canton players, who got to utilize the large facility, hone their skills with some different drills, and, most importantly, interact with the gracious and friendly SLU players and coaches. One of the hot topics of discussion between the players from the two teams was the quality of the pizza at the local convenience stores.

Modified Boys taking batting practice with the Saints encouragement.

St. Lawrence, which is off to a great start this season with a 10-4 record, hosts Liberty League rival Ithaca College in a series Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at noon at Tom Fay Field. Canton opens its season with a scrimmage game on Monday, April 25 at home against Heuvelton, which is coached by another former Canton graduate who collegiate baseball at Jefferson Community College, Bryant Wentworth.

Go Saints! Go Bears!

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