Campers take to the field during spring break

Alexis Thomas (bottom row, far left) and Sophia Chaisson (right of Thomas) enjoyed camp with the Sharks softball team.

Sophia Chaisson and Alexis Thomas had the look of two kids in a candy shop. Standing amidst the presence of the Malibu High softball team, the wide-eyed 11-year-olds watched and admired the older Sharks’ players teach them the game of softball.

Not that being in a candy store is a bad thing, but spending time during spring break at a youth softball camp can be just as savory and satisfying.

Malibu coach Mark Cooley spent three days last week teaching Chaisson and Thomas the fundamentals of softball, while providing community service hours to his team, who gave up their time to be with the two young girls.

“It’s always fun to see new kids coming in,” said Cooley, who is in his second season at MHS as head coach. “I want girls out here in Malibu to believe in themselves and never quit dreaming. This could be their reality, right here, one day.”

Sophomore Hali Norris was one of seven members of the Sharks’ varsity softball team who lent a hand in coaching Chaisson and Thomas the finer points of the sport, such as throwing from base to base and catching a fly ball.

“I definitely wish when I was younger that I got to come up here and work with these girls,” Norris, 15, said. “It’s super helpful. I’m glad girls at this age are coming out here because they want to play and they want to be out here.

“Softball is an amazing sport. I have loved every second of it and have never thought about quitting. It’s great for the community.”

As for Chaisson and Thomas, they expressed their happiness and appreciation for the camp by being attentive and respectful, all the while soaking in the advice and guidance provided to them.

“I really like softball so I wanted to come here,” said Chaisson, who plays with Thomas on the Bobcats in Malibu Little League. “I learned how to drop back and catch a ball in the outfield. I like trying new stuff. I played first base and it was fun.”

“I want to learn more and I got help with some of my hitting,” Thomas added. “It was a fun camp and everyone was nice.”

Cooley will be offering a four-day clinic in June for any girl in the Malibu community.

Meanwhile, down the hill on the baseball diamond, Malibu coach Ari Jacobs instructed a group of 15 boys the technical aspects of hitting and fielding a ground ball. Jacobs led a baseball youth camp, with participants ranging in age from 11 to 14 years old.

The baseball campers worked on hitting technique, beginning with an emphasis on form and the approach at the plate, to soft toss, cage hitting and, ultimately, live hitting.

“Coach has been teaching us hitting soft toss well, so I think this will improve my batting,” said Mark Harris, 13, who plays for Malibu Pony baseball. “I’m learning a lot and practicing new things. I’m finding it very helpful. I’m timing the baseball better now.”

Ryan Ross and Matthew Miller, both 11, play for the Red Sox in the MLL Majors Division. They came to work on their fielding, in hopes of improving as the MLL begins its second half of the season this week.

“We’ve learned how to properly field infield at third base, shortstop, second base and first base,” said Ross, whose older brother, Dylan, plays on the high school varsity team. “I’ve also learned to swing through the ball by keeping my hands in.”

“I have learned how to field the ball from down to up,” Miller said. “It’s been fun.”

Red’s southpaw pitcher Joshua Stern attended the camp and took a lot from the defensive coaching by Jacobs.

“It was pretty exciting,” said Stern, 10. “We learned how to field a ground ball by making a triangle in the ground. That’s one of the most important things. I need to keep my glove in front.”

After three days of mini-camp, the boys and girls left more knowledgeable and a bit wiser, with a sweet tooth for baseball and softball.