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Founded by former MLB player Mike Sweeney and hosted by Fishers of Men Joliet, the Catholic Baseball Camp has been operating in the Joliet Diocese since 2015. There are many Christian Baseball Camps but Catholic Baseball Camps are unique - nothing like this has been done! Each camp is an authentically Catholic, three-day Baseball Camp/Retreat where kids will see their baseball skills improve and their faith come alive. This year we have a fantastic female athlete joining us, so this will open the camp up more to the softball athletes!
Fr. Burke Masters: Diocese of Joliet Priest and Secretary for Christian Formation. Fr. Burke also serves as the Catholic Chaplain for the Chicago Cubs and the co-founder of Catholic Baseball Camp in the Joliet Diocese along with his friend, MLB star, Mike Sweeney.
He was not raised Catholic but attended Providence Catholic High School in order to move closer to his dream of becoming a Major League baseball player. It was at Providence that Fr. Burke fell in love with the Eucharist and the Catholic Church. He became Catholic his senior year in high school. He went on to play baseball at Mississippi State University, where he played in the College World Series. He was nominated as one of the top student-athletes in the history of Mississippi State University. He attended seminary and became a priest in 2002, serving as a parish priest, then as Vocations Director for 12 years.
Fr. Burke is looking forward to another phenomenal baseball camp where he and other mentor coaches focus on helping kids encounter Jesus Christ, practice Christian virtues, celebrate our Catholic Tradition, and inspire these young athletes to spread the Good News though sports!
Donn Pall: Donn a 10 year major-league veteran, spent 6 seasons with the Chicago White Sox, including the 1993 American League West championship team. Nicknamed “The Pope”, Pall grew up in the Chicago suburb of Evergreen Park and played collegiate baseball at the University of Illinois. In 1985, he was drafted in the 23rd round by the White Sox. He also went on to pitch for the Phillies, Yankees, Cubs and Marlins. Pall pitched in 328 games in the major leagues, covering over 500 innings and went 24-23 with a 3.63 ERA for his career. He now lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with his wife and 2 children. He currently does financial planning for his clients at Morgan Stanley and serves as a community relations ambassador for the White Sox.
Scott Lawler: Scott is the Assistant Athletic Director/Director of Recruitment and Head Baseball Coach at Benet Academy in Lisle, IL. Coach Lawler was awarded the 2013 and 2014 East Suburban Catholic Conference Coach of the Year. He was a D1 college coach for 10 years including:
Larry Coffey: Larry has been coaching baseball for over 25 years. Larry is a strong Catholic who has coached at all levels and understands the development of youth players from T-ball thru high level travel baseball (Illinios Sparks). Currently he is training high school baseball players. In addition to coaching, Larry was an accomplished player himself as an Illinios All-State shortstop at Hinsdale Central High School. He went on to have a productive career at University of Illinios where he was named captain his senior year. Larry looks forward to coaching another fantastic Catholic Baseball Camp this summer!
Paul Nykaza: A former high school and collegiate standout at Bloom Township HS and Illinois Tech respectively, Nykaza was an All-Conference and NAIA All-District selection while earning team MVP honors at Illinois Tech. He currently serves as the pitching coach at Mount Carmel High School in Chicago, perennially one of the top-rated programs in the state. Nykaza has guided his pitching staff to multiple 30 win seasons and runner up in the 2013 4A State Championship. Additionally, Nykaza has anchored the pitching staff for the Chicago Clout, a two-time National Champion semi-pro baseball team. Nykaza has served on the Mike Sweeney Catholic Baseball Camp Chicago Committee since its inaugural year in 2015.
Jennifer Zielke: Jenn played high school softball at Thornwood in South Holland, IL. Upon graduation, she headed off to play at University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign playing all infield positions, but spent the most time playing shortstop and catching. After graduation, she continued to play fast-pitch softball in Omaha, NE for a local league. Upon returning to Chicago, she started playing baseball because fast-pitch softball leagues were no longer available in the area. She found a group of women in the Chicagoland area who played baseball and started playing tournaments nationwide. In 2006, they started a women's baseball league in Chicago. She made the Team USA squad for the Women's World Cup Tournament in Taiwan. She made that squad again in 2008 and 2010 and trained with the team that went to Venezuela for the World Cup tournament.
In 2008/2009, she got the opportunity to play baseball professionally in Australia. While coaching a girls team in Chicagoland, she talked to a coach in Australia about an opportunity to play overseas. After much collaboration, they worked out a contract in which she had a team to play for, a host family to live with, and a development team to coach. It was the opportunity of a lifetime! While there, she also ran kids camps, worked one-on-one developing young players skills, and coached a women's development team. She was also the first woman to play for a men's team with a 100-hear history in Petersham, NSW, a town near Sydney.
Now that she's back in the states, she plays more leisurely for a local men's team. She still catches and plays middle infield. She loves to play ball in the yard with her niece and nephew and encourage all kids she meets to get in the game! She can't wait to meet the 2019 Catholic Baseball Campers!
Sunday, July 28, 2019 Catholic Family Night at Benet Academy, Lisle
Monday, July 29, 2019
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
White Sox Game - Wed., July 21, 2019, 7:10 PM
Each child will receive a free ticket as well as one free parent ticket per family to the game between the Chicago White Sox and the New York Mets on Wednesday evening, July 31 at Guaranteed Rate Field (game time is 7:10). Additional tickets for other family members can be purchased for $15 each. Families need to provide their own transportations and must accompany their own child.
Parents/Grandparents Series of Talks - 9:15-11:30 AM
All are welcome to join us for a series of talks on Theology of the Body to be held after Mass each morning of the camp.
Items to bring: (please label with name)
We will provide:
Please check your email regularly as this is our primary way we communicate. Any additional information that we need to convey as the camp draws closer will be passed on to you via the e-mail address that you supplied when you signed up for camp. Please make it a habit to check your e-mail daily, this will eliminate any confusion and or miscommunication.
When: July 29-31, 2019
2200 Maple Avenue, Lisle, IL
Age: Boys & Girls ages 8-14Baseball & Softball Instruction
Cost: $300 (First Child),
$150 (Second Child),
$100 (Third or More)
Official Camp Jersey
Official Camp Cap
2 White Sox Tickets 7/31
Catholic Family Night:
Sunday, July 28th, 5-7pm
Mass, Food & Fun for the whole family!