Since digging its cleats into the Philadelphia baseball scene in 1998, All Star Baseball Academy has helped launch the college careers of hundreds of players—and the big league careers of dozens more. Designed for ballplayers ages 5 to 18, the academy sharpens on-the-field skills with private instruction, leagues, camps, and tournaments. Read the academy's mission statement here.
This diverse selection of training opportunities stands as a testament to ASBA's growth: the academy now has five facilities under its umbrella, totaling more than 90,000 square feet of training space. Multiple times throughout the year, ASBA sets aside its own training areas to host prospect camps at universities and stadiums. There, coaches and scouts can watch ballplayers in action, timing how fast they run, assessing their pitch speed, and seeing how well they hit with pool noodles instead of bats.
The cracks of baseball bats, the slaps of softballs meeting mitts, and the advice of an experienced team of instructors resound within Thunder Stix Baseball & Softball Academy's cavernous 11,000-square-foot facility. Baseball and softball players alike hone their cuts inside eight pitching machines that can be adjusted from 40 miles per hour to 70 miles per hour, and brush up on their fielding technique inside four netted astroturf tunnels. Robert Banner—the academy's owner and the head softball coach at Alexis I. DuPont High School—and his instructors use the well-appointed digs to help players of all abilities develop their skills in every facet of the game, including batting, fielding, base running, and agility.
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.
StarSportsUs celebrates the skill, speed, and athleticism of bat-based games such as baseball, softball, and catching a bat that’s flying around your cabin. This celebration manifests itself in the form of batting practice, a well-stocked pro shop, and expert coaching in cricket. At the indoor facility’s four well-lit lanes, visitors can fine-tune their pitching mechanics and batting stances or school themselves in the graceful movements necessary for becoming a cricket batsman. With extensive instructor certification and personal experience in the sport, cricket coaches Earl Daley and Malika Frank guide pupils in its finer points, helping them to build agility, strength, and self-confidence through regular warm-ups and practice. An emporium of cricket gear equips batsmen, bowlers, and wicketkeepers with bats, stumps, kit bags, and gloves from brands such as Slazenger, SG, and Kookaburra.
With a multitude of games, sports equipment, and athletic facilities, The Sports Zone makes for boisterous birthdays, playful athletic practice, and wild family weekends. Merriment is manufactured through a flurry of fast-paced frolics through myriad attractions, which include batting cages ($2 for 18 pitches), a rock climbing wall ($1 per climb), and a virtual reality arena ($1 per game). Dribbling enthusiasts can perfect free throws and slam-dunk faces on the basketball court ($45 for 30 minutes). Kids Zone birthday parties give access to unlimited eats, a dutiful doling of arcade tokens, and one hour of play time in the designated Kids Zone, which houses a ball pit, moon bounce, and a tube crawl to prepare children for the pending uprising of the mole people.
Run or Dye is making race running a little more colorful, one major city at a time. This 5K is divided up into four separate courses of varying lengths, each designated by a separate color––which also reflects the color of safe, eco-friendly powered dye the participants get splashed with. At the end of the race, they'll cross into the aptly-named Dye Zone—a polychromatic free-for-all, where fluorescent color is thrown freely from all sides, allowing runners to splash their fellow runners or get colorful revenge on their friends, family members, and any cranky art-history teachers that happen to be walking by.
Unlike some races that rank runners by time, Run or Dye only measures success in color and fun. While the safe-to-eat dyes should wash out of clothing, runners are encouraged to wear things they don't mind getting dirty, preferably in white, grey, or another neutral color to allow give the dyes maximum visibility.