BEVERLY – A new nonprofit has raised donations to create a facility that will allow local youth to hone their baseball and softball skills regardless of the weather.
Local resident Kelly Cooper creates a batting cage installation at a former ice rink site near Beverly. He formed the Randolph County Cages, a nonprofit organization that still accepts donations to help complete the building transformation.
âWhen I started helping Todd Biller with travel baseball a few years ago, we were looking for a place where the kids could work on their game when the weather was bad outside, but we really couldn’t find anything. “ Cooper, who is an assistant baseball coach at Elkins Middle School, told The Inter-Mountain Thursday. âAnd no one seemed to want to give us a chance to try and see what we had.
âThen one day I was driving down the Beverly side road and looked and saw the old ice rink. So I called the owner of the building and we entered into a rental agreement for the building.
Cooper is currently transforming the former Superior Laundries building into an indoor paradise for baseball and softball fans. The facility, located on SH Wood Road near Beverly, once housed an ice rink.
“We emptied the building rather well, because it was not in a state where we could enter and leave” Cooper said. âSo we took the suspended ceiling off and done a lot of other things over the past few months.
âAs soon as the rest of the donations arrive, we’ll be installing the lights, which will be a big step. “ he said. “So probably next week or so, when we get the lights on, we’ll open up the lobby, just enough space for a cage for the clinics.” Then in about four or five weeks we should be good and we will have an open house for the whole community. “
And it is the community that Cooper says grew stronger and contributed to the project.
“I had great support from the Elkins community,” he noted. âI had several people who stepped in and contributed, but they didn’t want their names mentioned. The Randolph County Commission donated $ 5,000 to us last week, which was pretty big for us. “
Once the new facility is complete, it will house five batting cages and several batting stations. There will also be areas for pitching and pitch work, as well as a walking track around the center, which Cooper says can be used by adults while their children hone their skills.
He also plans to have space for golf lessons for children and adults, and to install a HitTrax system, which Cooper says criticizes a player’s swing.
“The HitTrax system is intended for baseball and softball”, he said. âHe does everything, including criticizing everything about a player’s swing, from the force with which he hits the ball to the spin. It’s really amazing, it’s like a Playstation game. They have one in Morgantown, and we actually have people driving there to use it. It will really benefit our children of all age groups.
For more information on the installation or to make a contribution, call Cooper at 304-642-3773.
“It’s not just for the kids in Randolph County, it’s for Barbour County, Tucker County or one of the surrounding areas,” Cooper said. âWe want to get baseball and softball back because the kids really lost a lot during COVID. Since 2019, we have really lost a lot of time with these two sports. We’re going to have a lot of children’s clinics and hopefully we can shake things up here over the next couple of years. “