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Owings brothers give back with free camp
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For the last five years, Josh, Micah and Jon Mark Owings have used the first few days of the area students’ two-week holiday break as a time for teaching.

And this year is no exception as the three brothers, along with pitching instructor and former Major League Baseball reliever Cris Carpenter, personal trainer Mike Malone and Ozone’s lead instructor Mike Hawkins, will hold their sixth annual O Bros Holiday Baseball Camp.

“I’ll tell you what,” said Micah Owings, who currently pitches for the Cincinnati Reds and finished 2009 with seven wins with a 5.14 ERA, “I’ve been all over the country and there isn’t a staff around as qualified as the one is here.”

The camp will be held today through Wednesday from 9-11 a.m. for ages 7-10, and noon-2 p.m. for ages 11-14 at Riverside Military Academy. Along with Carpenter, who played eight years in the major leagues, Hawkins, Micah and Jon Mark, who all did or are still playing pro baseball, there will be guest college and major league stars in attendance.

“Josh (Owings) is in charge of the strength and agility side along with Mike Malone, who just signed with the Green Bay Blizzard (of the newly formed Indoor Football League),” Micah said. “They’ll do the introductions and warm-ups and the kids always love that.

“And this year, instead of doing hitting, throwing and fielding every day, we’re going to target one each day.”

The day’s makeup isn’t the only difference, as this year also marks the first time the camp will be completely free. In the past, the camp cost between $115-$150 per participant.

“Well, there were multiple factors,” said Micah regarding the change to the clinic being free of charge. “For one, the economy being the way it is means people would be less likely to participate and two, I felt led to do it and I don’t really know why that is, which is the great thing about it.”

“This camp and this season, is our biggest revenue time,” Micah said. “But we want to get people interested in what we’re doing more than anything.”

It’s what the brothers are doing at Bat R’Up-Ozone — Ozone merged with Bat R’ Up, run by Tony Lawrence, about this time last year — that led to Micah being able to live out his lifelong dream of playing in the major leagues.

“(Going to a baseball training facility) was my activity growing up,” Micah said. “I went twice a week and know how much it did for me. It’s obvious how much it did for me, and I want to do the same for someone else.

 “(This week) is a way to show the community that we aren’t just a business and it’s our way of giving back,” Micah said. “I think this year will be our biggest ever, which should mean good things for the future.”
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