Every sport is in-season at the St. James, which soon will be adding baseball to the list of sports being played indoors, year-round.
The St. James, located in Springfield, is looking to become the leading sports, wellness and active entertainment destination in the country and utilizes the top facilities in the area to offer weekly programs, instruction, clinics and camps to cater for athletes of all levels.
Jake Moon, the director of baseball and softball at the St. James, is using his position and resources at the St. James to grow baseball and softball in the local community and offer a one-stop destination for players looking to develop their game. Moon also envisions playing live games indoors in the 110,000 sq. ft. field house in the near future.
By using a turtle backstop to eliminate fly balls off the roof and taking on other facility adjustments, Moon and the St. James team plan on hosting baseball and softball games, tournaments, showcases and leagues in the field house.
“We are at a point now where the interest is so high for it I am just trying to get time on our schedule to see how it runs and just getting everyone on the same page,” Moon said. “I think you will be hearing from me pretty soon that we are going to have either a weekend tournament or showcase.”
“I think the field house is set up better for little league and softball because we can have two games going on at once. Even at the younger ages, if we get the divider system up the right way, we could possibly get to play four games at once.”
Along with access to the field house, the St. James offers an 8,000 sq. ft. hitting house with six batting cages for hitters and pitchers, equipped with pitching machines and the latest Rapsoda technology. Moon is also looking to add a HitTrax system along with incorporating data from HD Golf simulators to baseball and softball players for swing and throwing analytics.
“The [HD Golf] technology would give us the ability break down everything from weight distribution to bat path and angle of attack to smash factor and get a very detailed plan for hitters,” Moon said. “We could also combine that with pitching, so guys are getting a frame by frame breakdown of their delivery.”
Baseball and softball players can sign up for programs designed specially for hitting, pitching and defense. Each course offers more advanced levels and athletes can progress and sign up for different classes that will benefit them. Athletes also have the option to work with St. James performance trainers to work on strength, speed and agility.
“The players that have seen the best results are the guys coming in and working with our performance trainers and getting everything they need from nutrition to what they need to be doing in their workouts,” Moon said.
Teams and programs can rent space in the St. James with the option to pick and choose exactly what they want to work on and in what space. Coaches also have the option to have a coach from the St. James or a trainer from the performance center aid in sessions.
“Basically a coach can customize the workout. They can workout in the performance center for 30 minutes, come in the hitting house for an hour and than go in the field house for 30 minutes or whatever variation they want,” Moon said. “Whatever the coach feels they need to do, they can do it.”
Looking to the future, the St. James will be offering youth travel teams for baseball and softball. Moon also wants to establish a collegiate team based out of the St. James complex to compete locally, but also teach the game to the next generation of players.
“It’s hard for a really technical coach to work in a non-technical way with younger players,” Moon said. “I think it is better for players to work with younger players who are just learning the game and I’m envisioning having solid Division I players here to work on something like that.”
Players are always welcome to sign up programs for basketball, football, soccer, lacrosse, hockey, rock climbing, swimming and combat sports throughout the year to develop different skills and abilities. Moon wants to use everything at the St. James to not just develop baseball players, but overall athletes.
“I want our pitchers in the pool on a swim program, players climbing the rock wall for hand strength, out their on ice skates working on balance and coordination,” Moon said. “A lot of older guys grew up doing a lot of these things and the generation now does not really do those things unless it is in a structured environment. You don’t have to wait for that season to come, that season is every day here.”
NVTBL will be hosting its first annual winter showcase with 30 plus college coaches at the St. James on Jan. 27 from 2-7 pm. For more information on the showcase or to register, visit our webpage. For more information on the St. James, visit thestjames.co.
Photos by Josh Belanger