Bring the Heat indoor pitching, hitting facility opens in NilesPublished 11:37am Monday, February 1, 2010
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
Even with the bitter cold nipping at the neck of many in Michiana but spring training for America’s favorite pastime is still in full swing.
Bring the Heat – Niles’ new indoor baseball and softball facility – is open and future Major League hopefuls are taking the mound and swinging away to the delight of owner Dave Klima.
“What we’ve done is we’ve basically created an indoor pitching and hitting facility to use in the winter months,” Klima said. “Kids who are serious about softball and baseball don’t really have an opportunity to work,” during the off season.
Now, inside the facility six cages have been put up allowing teams the opportunity to practice, coaches to give some extra time to players and individuals to get some private lessons.
“As far as the numbers,” Klima said, “there have been as many as 40 or 50 kids at one time.”
Pitching machines are set up in the netted cages and a dirt pitching mound has been set up as well as an observation deck that looks over each of the cages giving parents a chance to watch their athletes in action.
Klima, who has been a coach for more than 15 years, brought private instructors Jeff Jackowiak, Brian Blondell and Ryan Takach to Bring the Heat, making them available for private lessons and instruction each with extensive experience in coaching and playing the sport.
Tackach’s online biography boasts him as a “non-drafted free agent in 1999 of the Arizona Diamondbacks.” Blondell is a graduate of Bethel College and went on to be head coach at Riley High School in South Bend. He’s currently head assistant at St. Joseph High School and Jackowiak, a 31st draft pick overall by the Detroit Tigers in 1977, has been teaching both pitching and hitting for more than 20 years.
But Klima has a bigger picture planned for the facility. Inside, where little leaguers to high school hopefuls go to practice will serve a bigger purpose, he said.
In addition to the ability for coaches to use video in order to watch their players’ form, holding birthday parties and special events like lock-ins, Klima plans to start a scholarship program through Bring the Heat.
“The joy or reward that I get out of baseball is seeing that kid that I coached and watch him go on to play in college,” Klima said.
“Part of what we’re going to do with this facility,” he added, “is we’re going to do fundraising for amateur athletes and coaches. There’s lots of kids out there who want to go to college” but may not be able to afford it.
Scholarships awarded to amateur coaches will go to those who work hard to develop talent.
“Amateur coaches,” Klima said, aren’t in the business to make millions. “You’re doing it for the love of the game.”
Through possible lock-ins and donations, Klima said he hopes to grow the scholarship program as much as possible.
“I want to use it to help make a difference in people’s lives,” he said. “We’re off to a good start.”
Bring the Heat is located on South 11th Street just south of Fulkerson Road. To find out more, visit www.bringtheheat. net.