For the the better part of a decade, Tyson Van Winkle played baseball in front of screaming crowds. He spent four years as a Gonzaga Bulldog, a career punctuated by winning the West Coast Conference championship and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2009. That year, he was drafted into the minor leagues, where he spent another four years.
Now off the court, Van Winkle focuses on other athletes' performance at his new gym, ProLete Fitness. As a PCIP-certified trainer, he leads workouts ranging from personal training sessions to group boot camps, which burn fat more effectively than a set of combustible dumbbells. His sessions may incorporate high-quality Atlantis Strength equipment, or extras like movement evaluations and nutrition coaching.
The whoosh of baseballs against protective screens and leather mitts drifts through Extra Innings’ 11,000-square-foot facility even when rain is pouring down and baseball season seems far away. Athletes training for all levels of play can shut themselves in under the black meshing of eight multiuse batting and pitching tunnels, where they crush ball after ball to sharpen the minute movements of their swing. The tunnels, one of which is equipped with ProBatter ATEC7600 simulator, are all equipped with L screens and ping machines and are ideal for practicing sliders. A staff of current and former professional, college, and high-school athletes offers step-by-step instruction and on baseball- and softball-specific strength conditioning. In private lessons and group clinics, Extra Innings puts students of all ages on the path toward big-league skills such as hitting the curve and spitting sunflower seeds into the shape of a beautiful sunset.
After an eight-year career in minor-league baseball, Coach Victor Hernandez went on to instruct hitting in 1986 at Eastern Oregon University, where he helped the team set most of its hitting records that still stand today. These days, Coach Vic teaches youth baseball players the same philosophies that penned EOU into the record books. At his indoor facility, he perfects students' hitting techniques in a professional batting cage furnished with a Home Plate pitching machine that lobs baseballs at speeds of up to 90 mph. The multitalented pitching apparatus can throw fastballs, curveballs, sinkers, sliders, change-ups, and kitchen sinks with a slight rising action, emulating various in-game situations with pinpoint accuracy. Softball players can also hone their hitting fundamentals similarly with the cage's Atec fast-pitch softball machine.
During one-on-one or group sessions, Coach Vic unveils the elements of a homerun swing, including proper stance, bat grip, and load. Through a series of drills, he gets batters to focus on proper hand action through the hitting zone and teaches them how to repeat the motion in every swing. As an all-around baseball player himself, Coach Vic can also instruct pitching mechanics.