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New place takes swing at baseball training

Thursday, February 05, 2009  
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By Brenda Young
Posted February 5, 2009 @ 2:21 p.m.
BELVIDERE — Paul Wild hopes his new business in Belvidere hits a home run in providing comprehensive baseball training and conditioning to area youth and college-age players.

The Sports Place, at 1982 Belford North, officially will open its doors from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Saturday.
Wild, a former Hamilton Sundstrand employee, said the facility provides a more permanent place for any team looking to avoid having to set up and take down equipment. It was inspired in part by his 13-year-old son Joseph, who plays for the Big Dogs, a local youth team.

“The team trained in a warehouse where we would have to set up the nets and break them down at the end of the season each year,” Wild said. “This facility brings more stability.”

Rockford College baseball coach Bob Koopmann, who also is the Rockford RiverHawks’ manager, also was looking for a more stable place for the Regents to train. His Regents represent one of a couple of clients already using the facility.

Regents center fielder Shaun Dascher recalled that the team trained last year in a warehouse near Forest Hills Road.
“It’s smaller here, but I think it’s a lot more organized,” Dascher said. “There are two cages here, so it’s just what we need in terms of hitting. And our pitchers can get their work done.”
Wild has brought on Koopmann and Winnebago baseball coach Dennis Kehrer as instructors for the training programs.
The facility is designed for one-on-one or small group lessons and is also set up to accommodate training sessions for teams, with players working at several different hitting stations.
“We have tried hard to maximize our space,” said Kehrer, who has served as the Big Dogs coach for three seasons. “We have developed this program so that we can minimize people standing around.”
Kehrer said the goal of The Sports Place is to “provide fundamental instruction that when a player leaves a session, he is better than when he came in.”
The Sports Place offers individual training as well as team rates. Professional hitting or pitching lessons for a team or individual will cost $30 for a 30-minute session and $50 for a 55-minute session. The fees for the three different training packages range from $8 to $12 per player and $80 to $120 for teams.
Wild said softball training is a possibility. He does plan to have small-group personal exercise classes for women of all ages instructed by Lori Wild.
Koopmann had the Regents train at the facility on Monday.
“We are lucky to have this,” Regents pitcher Travis Mohr said. “We’ve worked out near Boylan High, so we’ve kind of been all over the place. It’s good to know it’s not too far of a drive to get here.”

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