By ADAM SHINDER
PERTH -- Dale Hinderliter and Kevin Myers were plenty accustomed to taking their kids to the various facilities throughout the Capital Region where they could sharpen their baseball and softball skills. The commute was getting to be a bit much, though.
"We were driving back and forth to places in Latham and Burnt Hills once or twice a week for three years," Myers said.
The issue of the three-hour trips -- an hour's drive for an hour-long lesson, then another hour driving back -- reached the point where Hinderliter and Myers came up with an elegant solution. They went out and started their own facility, just a stone's throw from their homes in the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District.
So, they found an available space -- a building on Midline Road previously used for storage -- cleared out the flotsam and jetsam and, about a month ago, officially opened the Sacandaga Sports Center for business.
"We said, 'It'd be nice to have a facility that's closer,'" Myers said. "Those other facilities are great -- great equipment, great instructors -- but they're an hour away."
The facility features three batting tunnels -- two larger tunnels, one with a pitcher's mound and the other with a JUGS pitching machine, and a smaller one to be used for softball players and younger baseball players -- and in the short time its been open, Hinderliter and Myers said the response has been extremely encouraging.
"I've been pleasantly surprised, you know?" Hinderliter said. "The people seem so happy they're not driving an hour."
Once they found the building where they'd eventually house the Sacandaga Sports Center, it did take a bit of work to get things cleared out.
"There was literally a dump truck in here," Hinderliter said.
"Dump truck, camper, carnival rides, everything," Myers added. "We kind of happened by this one night driving down the road. Everybody goes by here. We made a phone call, worked out the lease with the landlord and everything's worked out really well so far."
The work's not complete yet, either. There's a set of bleachers that should be moved into the facility in the next week or so, and they're currently working on furnishing an upstairs "observation deck" where parents can sit and watch television while their kids are put through hitting drills.
Hinderliter and Myers have brought in a pair of instructors to shape the program at the Sacandaga Sports Center -- baseball instructor Chris Gabriel and softball instructor Rory Ogden, both former college athletes.
The facility is getting ready to begin a 12-week instructional program that will wrap up just before high school tryouts begin in March. There will also be a seven-week program for Little League baseball and softball players, and the facility is also open to the public on weekends. They've also started team-based hitting leagues for players of all ages that's quickly grown in popularity.
They're particularly happy in how quickly word has spread across Fulton and Montgomery counties.
"That's our idea. All those communities, by themselves, are too small, but you put them together and we should have enough business out there to sustain this," Myers said.
The Sacandaga Sports Center is located at 1024 Midline Road. For more information, call 212-5754 or visit www.sacandaga-sports.com.
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