Teaching the fundamentals

Sticks Training Academy, 98 Morgan Ave., celebrated its grand opening Saturday, unveiling a state-of-the-art baseball and sports training facility for athletes in the Tiffin community.

Owner Brian Coleman said starting such a facility “has always been a dream of mine,” and guidance, support and challenges from his father were a large part of his inspiration and motivation.

Coleman said his father, Leroy Coleman, a Vietnam veteran who lost his leg in the war, has had a number of health and physical challenges through the years. Despite those difficulties, Brian said, his dad “has always been behind me,” and stayed strongly involved in his activities as he grew up, as a parent and a coach.

“Baseball is part of our family,” Brian said.

Brian said the lounge area at Sticks has been named after his father, but opening the academy is to allow him more opportunities to follow in Leroy’s tradition as he coaches his own two children.

“That’s the most important thing,” Brian said.

After playing high school baseball at Calvert, Brian attended Heidelberg University and played four years on the baseball team. Not only did he start each year, but he said he was team captain and achieved all-academic status.

Brian said he first began pursuing coaching opportunities after college, and now has 20 years of experience. His first student, he said, trained with him for eight or nine years, and was ranked All-Ohio.

Brian later was offered the assistant coach position with Tiffin University’s baseball team, and this spring is to mark his 10th season with the team.

Brian’s presence in the baseball and sports communities in Tiffin has strengthened over the years. “I’ve never had a disappointed parent,” he said, and hopes that trend continues as Sticks opens for business.

Sticks Training Academy, Brian said, is an indoor training facility with a focus on building baseball and softball skills, but with the flexibility to train athletes in various sports.

The facility itself features batting cages, more than 2,500 square feet of turf and a variety of training aids for skill development. Brian said video analysis to break down pitching, hitting and fielding is available, and lessons are available with him and other qualified coaches who are on staff.

Initially, Brian said Sticks is to offer private and semi-private sessions, in addition to team instruction and camps and clinics for speed training, hitting and pitching. Rates vary with the number of lessons and participants, he said, and lessons are by appointment only. The facility also can be rented by teams or individuals, and a selection of apparel and gear is for sale at the academy.

In the future, Brian said he hopes Sticks will expand to offer membership options, tailored programs for players, open academy sessions, hitting leagues and expanded opportunities for camps and clinics. Other possible additions to the Sticks roster, he said, include adult lessons, fitness training and an indoor golf simulator.

Competitive Sticks baseball teams also might be organized, and Brian said he plans to start an equipment resale program to allow players and families a convenient option when equipment needs to be upgraded or replaced.

“Tiffin is a baseball town,” Brian said, and for athletes and families in the community who seek training at Sticks, he hopes customers “are going to be very happy.”

Brian said he is to seek input during and after the grand opening to get an idea of what players and parents would like to see offered at Sticks, and further develop the training curriculum based on those ideas and interests.

To best accommodate players and families, Brian said he chose the location on Morgan Avenue to allow for a convenient, centralized facility. He said the interior of the building had been “completely gutted” and the renovation was a six-month process.

Brian said he did most of the design work for the interior of the facility, based on his vision of the academy, and hired local contractors and companies to perform the construction and finishing work. Interestingly, he said, the padding under the turf at Sticks is from the Superdome, which he found available online.

Brian said his Sticks business partner, Jim Spaun, also was involved in Sticks’ development and the building’s transformation.

Sticks stands out as a premier facility, he said, not only because of the staff and equipment, but also because of the cleanliness and inviting atmosphere inside the building.

Brian said hours at Sticks will vary, and are based largely on the school commitments of many players. The academy is to be open 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Sundays, 4-6 p.m. Mondays and Fridays, 4-8 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, and 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, visit the Sticks Facebook page.

Brian also is the owner of Sticks Lawn and Landscape, which he started in Tiffin more than eight years ago.