Line drives sizzle and skid across the facilities at Staton Sports, where ballplayers polish their skills and veteran coaches prep athletes to compete in a variety of sports. Backed by stints with three MLB organizations, the center's president and CEO, T.J. Staton, heads a staff of coaches who bring a combined 20-plus years of professional playing experience to each practice, game, and training session. The center's field also plays host to traveling teams, and inside two party rooms, visitors gather to celebrate birthdays or exalt an adolescent bat's aversion to the peer pressures of cork.
Founded by sports enthusiast and former adolescent Rick Hart, Jump Start Sports works to enrich pupils' childhoods by developing useful life skills through athletics. Qualified counselors employ their wealth of experience working with children to help campers learn teamwork and fair play as well as the fundamentals of fielding baseballs, scoring soccer goals, or synchronizing pom-pom work. A course structure built around age-appropriate activities, group play, and free electives ensures that students never get bored, and an 8:1 pupil-teacher ratio enables one-on-one assistance to young champions as they practice the graceful art of pitching or the scheming intrigue of free-agent contract negotiation.
Bat-A-Rama's seven batting cages, which spit out softballs or baseballs, are designed to let the hitter pick the speed and height of the pitches based on skill level. Each $1 token forces the machines to throw 15 pitches, providing ample opportunity to practice swinging for the fences, hitting behind a runner, or catching moving balls in plastic grocery bags. Three of the seven cages spew both hardball and slow softball pitches, and one speedily whips out softballs sans arc. Though not included in this Groupon, Bat-A-Rama makes old-fashioned ice cream on-site.