Indoor training facility hailed as ‘game changer’ for Victoria baseball – Saanich News
Ever since her father took her to see a baseball game at Royal Athletic Park when she was three years old, Helen Edwards has been addicted to the sport.
The baseball and longtime HarborCats fan and her husband, John, were mainstays in the Victoria stands. When John passed away in 2020, Helen wanted to do something to honor his legacy.
That’s why she contributed to the indoor baseball center at 1821 Cook Street, now called Edwards Family Training Center.
“I’m really excited that we have local kids, coming out of this (facility), who are going to play for the HarbourCats,” Edwards said at the center’s official opening on April 7. “Anything that has kids and sports together, that’s what I support.
The HarbourCats and Golden Tide collegiate players will train at the site, while nearly 300 young athletes have used the center since it opened in fall 2020. The official unveiling has been postponed due to the pandemic.
The grassy facility has multiple batting cages and pitching tunnels, a fitness area, and the latest technology and digital analysis equipment, such as a simulator that shows how a hit in the batting cage would feel on a real diamond.
“It’s just exceptional that it’s here,” said HarbourCats managing partner Jim Swanson. “It’s just a game-changer for the community.”
Swanson said he would have focused on baseball rather than hockey if the practice site had existed when he was a teenager.
“I would have been here, taking swings until I got calluses on my hands,” Swanson said.
The training center fills a void where local children lacked options to hone their skills, said Curtis Pelletier, general manager of the HarbourCats and Golden Tide. He said it’s a “massive” step for local baseball, with kids now able to practice year-round.
“It’s already (a baseball town) and it’s going to keep growing,” Pelletier said.
The facility offers six-month memberships for kids looking to improve all aspects of their game. With 13 staff ready to coach kids, the facility will also use analytics to focus on where individual athletes can improve. their swing speed or throwing speed.
The HarbourCats have recruited 11 local players for the upcoming season. Pelletier said the goal of the facility is to help young people in Greater Victoria develop so they can play for local teams and strive to break into the college or professional leagues. But the key to that is for players to work on their skills as much as they can, Pelletier said.
“The motto here is ‘Do a little a lot’.”
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