During the winter months in Northern Indiana, it can be hard for certain teams to work out on the fields due to snow and cold. With the intense weather conditions, the baseball and softball teams have to practice indoors to get ready for the spring season.
A few years ago, the baseball and softball teams used to practice in the gym but during a summer volleyball tournament, the batting cages fell, injuring several people. After the incident, Josh Keister, athletic director, knew that the batting cages needed to be moved to a safer location. Along with the accident, hitting baseballs and softballs over and over again was creating wear and tear on the gym floor.
After these two factors were considered for three months, it was finally decided that the Rec-Fit Center would put turf down in the old pool area.
In February 2015, Goshen College officially opened the turf room for student athletes. In addition to the turf being put down, the space was equipped with two full-length batting cages, allowing the baseball and softball teams to have live batting practice during the winter months.
The batting cages retract to one side of the room to allow teams more space to take ground balls and play catch. The cages also retract to accommodate more than just the baseball and softball teams.
The space is large enough for the soccer teams to play three-on-three games and practice footwork. Track throwers can also use the space to throw shot put in preparation for the season. The turf room also includes a varsity weight room with brand new equipment that is open to all athletes at Goshen College.
While the turf room is open to all athletic teams at Goshen College, the majority of use comes from the baseball and softball teams. Alex Childers, head baseball coach, has nothing but good things to say about the turf room.
“Baseball is a game of reps,” Childers said. “With the cages, our guys can get reps at many times throughout the day.”
Instead of only being able to hit in the gym and disrupting basketball practice, baseball and softball players can go into the turf room at any time of the day, get in the cages, and take batting practice to improve their swing.
During deliberation about what would go into the empty space, Childers did not make the final decision, but was “an advocate for it” to be a turf room to help baseball and softball in the winter months. When it was finally decided to put in turf, Childers had one request when finishing the space.
Childers requested that the lighting in the space “be as good as possible.” This was preferred because in January and February, the team uses the cages to hit live batting practice off live pitchers. Childers is pleased with the lighting commenting, “our lighting is phenomenal.”
“[It is] all positive feedback on this space and this area, and it services a lot more than just the baseball and softball teams,” Childers said. “I think as a whole, facilities wise, it’s been a huge upgrade and advantage.”