At 6,531 feet above sea level, Security Service Field is the highest professional ballpark in the United States. It was built in 1988 on the edge of Colorado Springs, and, in August 2012, it welcomed its six millionth fan through the turnstiles. This feat of fandom was but a dream in 1903, though, when the Sky Sox—then the Sacramento Solons—became a charter member of the Pacific Coast League. In 1961, the Solons became the Islanders and relocated to Honolulu, where the franchise remained until 1988, the year it finally moved to Colorado, and the year Pikes Peak began mysteriously sprouting foul poles. Upon arriving in its new city, the franchise adopted the Sky Sox moniker—a tip of the cap to the Sky Sox of the 1950s, who played in the Western League as an affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. The modern-day Sky Sox have been the Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies since 1993, and in 2011, the team earned the nod as Triple-A Organization of the Year courtesy of Baseball America.
Though they operate more than 200 locations in upwards of 30 states, the team behind U.S. Baseball Academy aims to make each young athlete's experience a personal one. Their four- or six-week camps are taught by local instructors who are current or former coaches at the high school or college level, and typically offer a 6:1 or better player-to-teacher ratio for intense, professional-style training. The Academy's proven itinerary of hitting, pitching, fielding, and baserunning drills was developed by an advisory board of college coaches and Major League players, including Cy Young Award?winner and ace pitcher Brandon Webb.
During her 19-year career, Tonja Hadley—or “Coach T” as her students call her—has motivated athletes to victory at the NCAA’s Division I and Division II levels. Now leading boot-camp classes at The Edge Sports Center, the registered strength and conditioning coach applies her wealth of fitness expertise to students looking to get in shape. Her workouts combine the benefits of cardio and strength training into a single rigorous routine. Students rapidly move from exercises on body balls to floor routines and lifting weights, keeping pulses pounding and muscles guessing. Classes are sometimes held on The Edge Sports Center's 22,000 square foot indoor field so students can eschew drawn-out stints on the treadmill.
Impact Sports Performance is the go-to destination for athletes looking to sharpen their skills and hone their physiques. The massive facility houses a turf field, basketball court, weight room, and batting cages, providing athletes of all stripes with the exact conditions required to perfect their game. Both teams and individuals can also schedule private training sessions or attend camps and clinics to work on their form and technique. However, the gym also welcomes guests who don't play a sport or are simply allergic to baseball bats, featuring a full schedule of adult fitness classes designed to burn calories and increase strength and endurance. But Impact's impact doesn't stop there; its multitalented staff also helps alleviate pain and defend against sports-related injuries with massage and physical therapies.
Extra Innings Littleton's sprawling baseball enclave sharpens batting and pitching skills with a lineup of seven multiuse training tunnels. Each spacious tunnel is 70 feet long, 25 feet high, and 15 feet wide, leaving plenty of room for wild pitches, fly balls, and improvement. There's no limit on the number of pitches flung by the ball-launching machines, which can be adjusted to spew out blazing fastballs for the pros or gentle, encouraging lobs that help to train new players; tees are also available for the youngest sluggers. If human pitchers want to sub in for Extra Innings' robotic all-star, the facility's protective L-screens stand ready to protect them from line drives as pitching arms practice hurling orbs toward a catching or batting partner.
Lee Martin began his baseball career playing junior-college ball at Long Beach City College before moving on to become an All Big West pitcher at Long Beach State University. Though an injury mere weeks before the College World Series ended his playing career, it couldn’t subdue his passion the sport. Today, Coach Martin shares his experiences as the varsity pitching coach at Columbine High School and by giving players a venue to hone their skills at The Batter's Box. Inside the spacious facility, Coach Martin and his expert staff help students perfect baseball technique during four-week speed-and-conditioning camps as well as one-on-one video analysis to review pitches and swings. Visitors sling pitches from three indoor mounds and strengthen their hitting skills in 55-foot retractable cages, whose Iron Mike or Jugs pitching machines launch balls endlessly or until the machines get called up to AAA teams. While players master the art of fielding, parents can read while waiting in a lounge equipped with free WiFi and Nintendo 64 for younger siblings.