JASON STROMBERG Forum Publishing Group
July 29, 2009
There weren’t any baseballs being thrown around the horn between Andy Raffa and his campers recently at the Crexent Business Center in Wellington.
The owner of the Players Edge baseball training program, Raffa put the gloves aside and gave headsets and microphones to John Lombardi, Nick D’Esposito and Kevin Mendiguren for an appearance on W4CY Radio.
"This is their added bonus for doing a great job for the week at the camp," said Raffa, who held the Summer Instructional Camp July 13-17 at Boca Prep International School. "Basically, it was my normal show. I got to talk to each of them individually about where they play, what school they go to and what events were upcoming. It was an open forum for them and a cool opportunity."
Raffa does a weekly sports talk show on W4CY.com Internet Radio from 9 to 10 p.m. Last week, Raffa chose to bring Lombardi, D’Esposito and Mendiguren on as special guests due to their dedication, leadership and solid behavior throughout the daily camp activities.
The 10-year-old Lombardi, who was the primary recipient of the Players Edge Game Ball and Leadership Award, said he was nervious about appearing on the program.
"I haven’t done anything like this before," said Lombardi, an incoming fifth-grader at J.C. Mitchell Elementary School. "My friends were listening and stuff, so that was pretty cool. Being able to talk baseball was a lot of fun."
Raffa said Lombardi earned the notoriety with his performance as the academy’s catcher and captain. "He’s got a great attitude for the game," Raffa said. "When the other kids see that, they feed off it. You want a player like that on your team. He’s a great clubhouse guy and he’s probably going to be a captain on a lot of his teams. He’s a good ballplayer who brings the intangibles. His personality and smile are great."
D’Esposito and Mendiguren were strictly business. Both received trophies for being named the Player of the Camp.
Mendiguren, 9, is an incoming third-grader at Unity Middle School. He admitted he was surprised to be nominated for the award. "I didn’t think I’d be the one, but it felt pretty good," he said. "I was really trying my best, and it paid off. I was glad to be a part of the show."
Raffa also welcomed to the show the band Fallen From the Sky. The music was courtesy of W4CY owner Dean K. Piper.
Drummer and founding member Giancarlo Aservi said he was honored to sign autographs for the kids and send his message to listeners. "We do rock, and that’s where we believe everything meets," said the 2002 Spanish River High graduate. "Rock never goes out of style. We want to be a timeless rock band."
Bassist Hazen Ziringer is channeling all his energy in that direction. The 2002 Olympic Heights High School graduate played junior varsity football under Raffa.
"When Andy asked us if we wanted to be on the show, we immediately jumped at the opportunity," said Ziringer, a family friend of Raffa. "This was something we wanted to do and we couldn’t be more thankful."
Other members of Fallen From the Sky are guitarist Ky Morland, a 2003 graduate of Spanish River High School, singer Ryan Loughney and guitarist Justin Berke.
Morland sat in on Raffa’s show, along with Aservi and Ziringer. "We’re a punk-influenced rock band," Morland said. "We’re a bunch of dudes that are trying to take this as far as it can go and enjoy each other’s company. We can’t wait to travel the world and see different parts of it. There’s nothing better than playing."
Throughout the show, Raffa could sense his baseball students were pleased to be in attendance. He later explained why he picked Mendiguren and D’Esposito to join Lombardi.
Mendiguren, a left-handed pitcher, is "probably the most fundamentally sound player," Raffa said. "He’s very natural in his baseball ability. When you’re on the field with him, you can pick up on his love for the game. As far as his intensity is concerned, he strives to be the perfect player. He’s a gifted young ballplayer. Really incredible."
As for D’Esposito, a middle infielder, Raffa added, "He’s the quietest of the three and without question leads by example. He works incredibly hard and is the go-to guy when we need an infielder. He’s always willing to go that extra mile to make the other players better. He may not say a lot, but he’ll do the work and get it done."
For information on W4CY Radio, go to www.w4cy.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-877-424-6257.
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