Baseball Sask Academy finds new home here
Written by Darren Steinke, Gordie Howe Sports Complex
February 3, 2020
Student-athletes hone skills at Indoor Training Centre
Greg Brons says the Gordie Howe Sports Complex has been a game changer for the Baseball Sask Academy.
Brons, who is the High Performance Director for Baseball Saskatchewan, helped establish the Baseball Sask Academy for players aged 15 to 18 in 2014. The Academy moved into the Indoor Training Centre at the Gordie Howe Sports Complex for the current school year.
The Indoor Training Centre was completed in early 2019 and officially opened for public bookings in March of that year.
“We were at the old Going Yard facility,” said Brons. “We just had a warehouse.
“That served its purpose, but coming in here is like going into a Cadillac. It is great.”
Before the Indoor Training Centre at the Gordie Howe Sports Complex opened, the Baseball Sask Academy was located at the Going Yard Baseball Warehouse on Alberta, Avenue. It was a smaller warehouse building and the ceiling wasn’t high enough to allow for outfield work.
Now both the Baseball Sask Academy and the Going Yard Training Center are located at the Gordie Howe Sports Complex. Both can make use of a FieldTurf surface that is 50 X 90 yards in dimension, three baseball batting cages and three pitching lanes.
As for the Baseball Sask Academy itself, it was established to provide student-athletes with an opportunity to participate in baseball training activities as part of their regular school day.
The staff at Ignite Athletics, which is also located at the Indoor Training Centre, lead athletes through the physical conditioning training part of the program. Baseball coaches work with athletes on skill development.
“It is about trying to get better at the game, trying to increase our velocity, trying to get faster (and) trying to hit with more power,” said Brons. “Combined with the guys with Ignite, they help us get stronger and faster and more fit.
“For the baseball academy, we just try to get the guys more efficient at hitting, more efficient at pitching (and) more efficient at fielding a ground ball. Hopefully, these guys get better at the game, so maybe they can go on further whether it be at an elite level with Team Sask., or an elite level at college.
“We’ve had some guys that have been a part of the academy and have gone on to play like junior college baseball or division one baseball or division two baseball.”
Training sessions at the academy usually run between 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday starting in what would be the fifth period of an athlete’s high school day. A lot of athletes take an online course to make up for that fifth period.
When the academy first started, training sessions used to began at 1 p.m., but Brons said that required athletes to often take two high school courses online. In order to keep athletes inside the classrooms of their schools, it was decided to move to the 2:30 p.m. start time, so only one online course would often need to be taken.
“At 2:30 (p.m.), this building is wide open,” said Brons. “It is really convenient for us.
“We used to start at one o’clock (in the afternoon), and that was just too hard.”
Brons said most of the athletes at the Baseball Sask Academy play other sports like hockey or compete with their high school teams in basketball, volleyball and football. Besides staying on top of studies, the 2:30 p.m. start time for the academy allows athletes to depart and practice with teams in other sports.
At the academy, instructors test athletes on their skills and physically to track improvement. One of the favourite tools used is a HitTrax machine in the batting cages which measures characteristics like exit velocity, when a ball is hit off a bat.
Brons said the Baseball Sask Academy has settled in nicely at the Gordie Howe Sports Complex, and grads of the program are impressed when they see where the current baseball athletes train.
“We’ve got the best facility in Canada maybe if not North America,” said Brons. “It is just nice to see guys who have gone through the academy program before.
“They come back from their colleges down in the (United) States, and they come to this. They are like, ‘Oh man. I was born a little too early.’”
For more information about the Baseball Sask Academy, feel free to contact Brons at email@example.com.