Heavy HItters camp 'huge success,' according to Hannah, McPhail

Mar. 21—When Les Hannah tried to bring former Oklahoma Sooner Jocelyn Alo to Tahlequah for the Heavy Hitters Camp, the first thing her agent asked Hannah was, "Where is Tahlequah?"

At the time, Tahlequah was unknown, but after a Friday, March 14, showout, it will leave a lasting impression in Alo's mind and that of the campers. Alo is a former Oklahoma Sooners alum and the hitter in NCAA history in home runs (122), slugging percentage (.987) and total bases (761).

"Younger girls had some tears of joy," Hanna said. "She told them, 'You're not here to hug me, you're here to learn from me.' They were just excited. Even some of the parents were excited. She kept telling them, 'I'm just Jocelyn, I'm just good at hitting the ball.'"

On Monday, the camp had 141 players registered, but by the time the doors opened on Friday, March 14, there were 164 total campers. Overall, there were over 400 people at the event, including parents, vendors and even the United Keetoowah Band Police. After the camp, players had the chance to meet Alo, get autographs and talk to the former Sooner.

"The camp here in Tahlequah was a great success. We are so looking forward to having more sporting events and camps in our area," said Gena McPhail, director of tourism with the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce.

According to Hannah, Alo was moving onto a camp in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with 180, barely beating out Tahlequah's numbers.

Not only did Tahlequah and other Oklahoma natives show out, but according to Hannah there were campers from as far as Little Rock, Kansas City and even Clewiston, Florida.

"I think it was extremely successful. For little ol', Tahlequah that isn't half bad," Hannah said. "I was not surprised at the turnout, I knew people would come. I was surprised at how far away people came."

With the success of the first camp, Hannah's and Alo's agent are working on bringing the camp back to Tahlequah later this year, possibly in August.

The first camp focused on hitting only and was a half day, but now Hannah and Alo are looking to bring a full-day camp, with pitching and fielding instruction as well.

Hannah is an NCAA umpire, and when his daughter went to a similar camp in Oklahoma City, he was interested in bringing it to Tahlequah.

Then one day, Hannah received an email from Alo's agent about the possibility of a camp, and soon the gears were in motion for the Heavy Hitters camp.

"I told them, 'People will turn out and people love the Sooners, people will show up.' We put pencil to paper and came up with this," Hannah said.

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