Being a baseball fanatic in Park City can be a little aggravating at times, particularly in the early months of the year.
While professionals are getting ready for their upcoming seasons in the sunshine states of Arizona and Florida during spring training, David Feasler can be found surrounded by inches, if not feet, of snow here in the mountain town.
So to combat that feeling of emptiness, Feasler decided to open up the Park City Baseball Academy, a year-round training facility for kids to get their baseball fix and improve their overall game.
“The original idea came about because of pure frustration with the weather. … I mean I love where I live but I’m a huge baseball guy, so when you see it on TV and can’t get outside yourself, it makes it hard,” Feasler said with a laugh. “I know there are guys who want to work out and hit every day so this is a way to make sure that happens. This is the kind of coaching I love to do, especially on the training side.”
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So when the time came to fully open up on Jan. 1, Feasler was ecstatic — and so were local players. According to Park City High School baseball players Charlie Morris and Kellen Denkers, the new facility quickly became a home away from home to them and their teammates.
“When it first opened up, we were here for three, four times a week. … It’s easily become like a second home because I’ve been spending so much time here just trying to get better,” Morris said a month after it opened. “I came in here one time to look around with Feasler and didn’t know how it was all going to work, but I really like it. It’s great when I’m training, being able to talk to my teammates and hang out with them.”
Not even open for three full months, everything changed for Feasler, Denkers, Morris and all the other kids from throughout the area when Summit County issued its stay-at-home order on March 27.
The facility closed and sent Feasler back into the funk of life without baseball. It did make him a little nervous as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread fear of people being grouped together in small spaces, which is exactly what you get when you come into the academy.
So when Feasler reopened the academy on May 1 — in accordance with Summit County’s new guidelines — he wasn’t sure what to expect.
Three weeks have passed, and the results have been very good thus far. He’s having less people in at a time but between he and his staff, the facility is open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. and there is almost always somebody in there training.
“It’s great because we’ve been having kids from Park City and the Summit and Heber areas in here. … We also got a kid in here working who plays for Youngstown State so it’s cool to see the college kids also,” Feasler said. “We are also branching out a little as we have some vacation people as well. Actually, I got a message from a guy in Phoenix who’s spending his summer here with son. … He found us online and loved what we do, so he and his son are training with us now.”
In compliance with the Summit County guidelines, Feasler said he only allows four athletes or less on each floor of the facility. Everything is scheduled and no drop-ins are allowed.
“I’m so pumped because I need baseball in my life. … And with nothing happening in April, it’s really exciting to be able to open this up and get back to work,” Feasler said. “I’ve been told the kids are pumped because they’re there all the time, with even some being in here every day.”
The academy is a two-story facility with all of the baseball related training on the first floor and a gym for strength conditioning and endurance training on the second floor.
But just ask Denkers and he’ll tell you the magic happens on the first floor.
The facility is equipped with Rapsado hitting and pitching units, virtual reality training, three-wheel pitching machine and a slow motion, 960 frames-per-second camera. Each one of these pieces fully supports the analytical side of the game, allowing players to not only simulate game situations but also see break down their swings and see their results.
“It’s nice because I’ve always had coaches saying that you’re getting better but here, you actually get to see the numbers, the data and all that stuff that actually proves it,” Denkers said. “It’s super helpful to have the technology and tools to become the best player I can be. … And even better to have someone build this facility who believes in the analytics also.”