By IAN MCBRIDE
In the past, baseball players from Waterloo Region had few options for training. They resorted to using substandard indoor facilities that weren’t designed for baseball. Fortunately, PlayBall Academy Canada in Kitchener has completely changed the baseball landscape in the region.
Formal planning for a new facility began approximately a year ago, and construction on the two‐storey site began in September.
Trevor Nyp, who is a co-owner of PlayBall Academy Canada, as well as general manager, a baseball instructor and infielder for the Kitchener Panthers, said there has been an amazing response from the community since the facility opened on Jan. 3.
“It’s been incredible,” he said. “People have really taken to it. They love the fact that they can come in during the middle of winter and do everything they need to do for baseball. It’s a one-stop shop, essentially, for them. And they love it.”
He is also an infielder for the Kitchener Panthers of the Intercounty Baseball League.
The baseball-specific facility is 23,000-square-feet with a major league‐sized turf infield, full gym, batting cages, pitcher’s mounds and real dirt bullpens. The turf is identical to the one at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., where the Tampa Bay Rays play.
Tori Taylor, public relations manager/softball instructor at PlayBall Academy Canada, said the new venue is significantly better than other facilities she’s trained at.
“I grew up playing softball my entire life, and never had a facility like this. We offer so much here that other facilities can’t. Whether you’re looking for hitting, pitching or weightlifting, we can cover that,” she said.
According to Taylor, PlayBall Academy Canada appeals to all ages, whether you’re male or female.
“We really like to see the kids in here, but as you can tell tonight we have people who are upward of 35-50 years old. We have people as young as five years old too.
“Right now it’s predominantly males who train here, because baseball tends to start earlier than softball, which most women and girls play. But we have a lot of female interest. We had a clinic tonight for softball that was all girls,” she said.
Nyp hopes that top-tier talent from Waterloo Region (and all over the province) will use the facility as a springboard to increase their chances of reaching the majors, or at least minor leagues. The top baseball prospects from Ontario had the perfect opportunity to do this during a pre‐season college prospect showcase on Jan. 24.
“We had about 55 kids here. Kids from the age of 15-18, the best kids in Ontario, basically working on getting scholarships, and getting looks to go down south. We had some of the best kids in Canada here,” Nyp said.