Softball: Former Hokie standout has campers seeing STARS

Jon Schmitt and his wife Laura are newcomers to the Maryland STARS softball program, and when they found out they’d be hosting the annual camp at Mayeski Park this summer they knew just who to ask for help.

Kelsey Hoffman Schmitt, who played at Virginia Tech and earned all-Atlantic Coast Conference honors in 2008, her senior year, is married to Jon Schmitt’s brother. So the Salem, Virginia resident made the trip to Silver Run, where her in-laws live, and set up a home away from home for the week.


“I grew up playing softball,” the former Hokies catcher said. “It’s kind of my first love when it comes to things. When the opportunity kind of presented itself, I jumped on it.”

The Winfield Recreation Council partners with the STARS, a travel organization based in the same area, and runs its camp each year for girls ages 7-13 interested in fast-pitch softball. Monday marked the start of this year’s camp, which runs through Friday and has morning and early afternoon sessions that last three hours each (9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., and 12:30-3:30 p.m.).

The camp strives to teach the girls how to master the basics — everything from shaping a batting stance to proper bunt technique to fielding, throwing, and baserunning.

Those are fantastic buzz words for Schmitt, who said her goal this week is to make sure the girls get better at all of those skills.

“I want them to have the fundamentals of the sport down,” she said. “A lot of times that can be skipped over for the cool things.”

Former Virginia Tech catcher Kelsey Hoffman Schmitt teaches 7 to 13 year-old girls during the Maryland STARS youth softball camp at Mayeski park in South Carroll Monday June 18, 2018.
Former Virginia Tech catcher Kelsey Hoffman Schmitt teaches 7 to 13 year-old girls during the Maryland STARS youth softball camp at Mayeski park in South Carroll Monday June 18, 2018. (Ken Koons / Carroll County Times)

Schmitt said she has noticed at other camps and clinics around the country the number of times someone who isn’t quite sure how to handle a group of younger girls gets thrust into the position because the adult happens to be a volunteer or parent of one of the campers.

Schmitt’s nieces attended camp Monday, and they took lessons from a former college standout — one of Schmitt’s career softball highlights took place March 26, 2008, when she was behind the plate for Virginia Tech and caught a no-hitter against the U.S. national team.

Angela Tincher took down the three-time reigning reigning Olympic gold medalists that day in a 1-0 victory, a game during which Schmitt called every pitch. Schmitt also contributed at the plate with a lead-off double in the second inning against U.S. ace Jennie Finch, and the Hokies scored their lone run in the frame.

Team USA had won 185 consecutive pre-Olympic exhibition games before Schmitt and Tincher ended the streak 10 years ago.

Schmitt runs a CrossFit center in Salem with her husband Nic, a former football player at Virginia Tech. Schmitt coached high school softball in Salem before landing a spot on Roanoke College’s staff for three years. She played professional softball briefly with the Akron Racers when her career came to a close at Virginia Tech.

Hannah DeVincent, an 11-year-old from Eldersburg, plays on Jon Schmitt’s under-10 STARS travel team. Soccer is her favorite sport, she said, but when softball comes around that doesn’t deter her from shining at three different positions (shortstop, third base, catcher).

Hannah, who said catcher is her favorite, said she knows why she chose to attend softball camp this week.

“So I could get better and I can learn more about the stuff that I know,” said Hannah, who has been playing softball for five years.

Hannah was one of five girls participating in the afternoon session, and Jon and Laura Schmitt said 15 girls made up the morning group. The Schmitts said they don’t mind making the drive from Silver Run to Winfield each day, since Mayeski offers its share of open fields and ample space.


The girls took a break from the afternoon heat and found shade under a tree, with water bottles in tow, while the Schmitts retreated under the park’s pavilion and talked about the benefits of operating a camp like this one.

Kelsey Schmitt said if she can show the girls how to fine-tune their mechanics, she’ll consider the week-long camp a success.

“So many people are focused on one sport. It’s a little bit different than when I grew up,” she said. “You want that athlete, but now there’s a big focus to focus on that one sport. And if you’re doing things wrong, the injuries come.”