Register Sports Writer
Young baseball and softball players from Madison County will no longer have to travel to places like Nicholasville and Lexington to find an indoor instructional facility.
Thanks to the efforts of former EKU baseball standout and professional baseball player Neil Sellers, local players now have a place to hone their skills right here at home.
Sellers, who has been doing individual instruction since moving back to Richmond two years ago, recently opened Diamond 5 Baseball and Softball Academy inside the Madison Indoor facility on Richmond Green Court near Kohl’s.
The academy occupies half of Madison Indoor and contains seven netted hitting cages, bullpens, pitching machines and a small baseball field, and will offer individual and group instruction, camps and clinics for both softball and baseball.
Sellers said he came up with the idea of the academy while doing personal instruction.
“I started working with some kids and the thing that impressed me about this area was the passion and motivation to get better. Not just in baseball and softball, but in all sports and it wasn't just the parents, it was the kids pushing the parents,” Sellers said. “There is nothing like this anywhere in the area. I really see what we've done up to this point as far as training has really improved the baseball and softball quality around the area, but I think now it’s time, with a facility like this, to take it to another level.
Sellers said he will be overseeing the academy, but he will have plenty of qualified staff on hand as well.
“We have Kelly Anderson as our softball director and she has a staff of area former players coming in,” Sellers said. “On the baseball side, former EKU players Josh Anderson and Jacob Daniel and some other former players are coming in. And I am going to go out and get some of my friends in the major leagues to come back and do camps and clinics and things.”
Tony Golson, who brought his son Stephen to an open house at the academy Thursday, said he was excited to have something available in Richmond for his son.
“This is really nice. We’ve needed something like this for a while now,” Golson said. “We average driving to Nicholasville about once a week for Stephen to use a facility over there, so to have something local like this is really nice.”
EKU softball coach Jane Worthington was also on hand and said the facility was definitely needed and should be popular with local coaches and athletes.
“I think this is awesome for the community and it is going to help players move along a little bit faster than what we’ve been doing,” Worthington said. “This is better than what we have at Eastern.”
The academy will offer memberships much like athletic clubs and the cages can also be rented out, Sellers said. During the school year it will be open each afternoon after school from 3:30 to about 9 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to about 8 p.m.
Sellers said that after the academy gets up and running he wants to expand the offerings at the facility to include activities for adults because it is a family center.
“I want to get this baseball and softball academy established in here and then I want to branch out and do some flag football leagues, more of a sports performance training, and we want to have adult Wiffle Ball leagues. We want it to be a fun, family atmosphere,” Sellers said. “Our motto is that nobody in the country will work harder than us and have a better attitude. We want to create successful people as well as successful athletes.”