The familiar crack of a baseball bat and cheers from parents at ballfields around town are sounds that signal summer has arrived. While many student athletes spend the summer enjoying the sunshine and team comradery in Little League or competitive baseball and softball, Grain Valley’s Yard Baseball Club is in the business of training those in the area with emerging talent to take their skills to the next level.
The Yard Baseball Club facility, located at 1460 NW Olympic Drive, opened in Grain Valley in November 2017 and shares space with Boost Physical Therapy.
Coach Jeff Jolliffe, a former Iowa State baseball player, leads the Club, along with a team of experienced coaches who focus on guiding player development on and off the field.
The Club boasts a number of athletes who have gone on to be recruited to college and professional play, including Pedro Alfonseca, who currently plays with the Cleveland Indians.
In addition to 6 tunnels and 2 bullpens, the Club offers a number of diagnostic tools, including a HitTrax simulator which analyzes player mechanics. Sharing space with Boost Physical Therapy also benefits athletes through free screenings with therapists to identify issues and injuries that may arise.
Memberships allow access to the facility 7 days a week, 8:00am – 10:00pm. The facility is also available for special event rentals, including birthday parties.
Coach Jolliffe’s wife, Meghan Jolliffe, has the title of “Vice-President: Non Baseball Tasks”, and is a driving force behind the scenes. Meghan recently gave Valley News a tour of the Club’s facility and shared information on the facility’s newest effort, the Groundwork Athletic Performance Academy.
Groundwork Athletic Performance Academy is a co-educational after school program that will teach students grades 3-8 the skills needed to be a well-rounded athlete. In addition to focusing on baseball and softball, the program will emphasize skills building in strength, speed, agility and nutrition.
“A lot of kids don’t know how to train, and don’t know what to do. We really want to work with kids early to prevent injury, maintain a healthy mental focus, and stay active,” Jolliffe said.
“We’re seeing childhood obesity increase, activity decrease, and kids not playing outside. Parents don’t always understand the nutrition needs of athletes. And, we are seeing a need to help students gain the skills to compete mentally.”
The academy is offering an early enrollment special of $90/week if enrolled by June 1st. The after school academy is offered Monday – Friday until 6:00pm.
A series of camps for student athletes will be held at the facility this summer to introduce the academy concept to athletes and their parents.
Groundwork Camp, to be held June 10-12 from 9:00am – Noon, will be a co-ed camp designed for all athletes. Participants will be taught important fundamentals for all athletes, including strength, speed, and agility, as well as nutrition. The camp will focus on baseball and softball, but a variety of sports will be taught.
Additional camps include a Pitcher/Catcher camp from June 24th—26th, a HitTrax camp from July 8th—10th, and an Infield/Outfield camp July 22nd—24th.
Each of the Academy’s programs focus heavily on utilizing data to improve results, and each athlete will leave the camp with a report card to help improve their play.
For more information on the Groundwork Athletic Performance Academy summer camps and programs, call 816-728-6024 or visit www.gapkc.com.
For more information on the Yard Baseball Club and facilities, including special event rentals, contact Meghan Jolliffe at 816-728-6024, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.yardbaseballclub.com.
The walls of the Yard Baseball Club are filled with the names of student baseball and softball athletes who have gone on to be recruited by colleges and professional baseball teams, including Pedro Alfonseca, who currently plays with the Cleveland Indians. Photo credit: Valley News staff
The HitTrax machine is just one of the diagnostic tools Yard Baseball Club coaches use to analyze players’ swing and speed. Coaches use data to improve a player’s performance, and a partnership with Boost Physical Therapy ensures players reduce injury risk. Photo credit: Valley News staff