By Kelly Newsom | Photos by Killion NewsomWoodland is the home to the National Indoor Training Facility (NITF). Wait, let me restate what I’m saying here. Woodland is home to an 18,000 square foot indoor training facility specializing in baseball and softball, with the ability to expand and allow football and soccer teams the use of an 80 x 80ft turf infield. WOW!
Located on Commerce Ave in an industrial area of Woodland, one block south of Kentucky Ave off East Street, NITF is housed in a metal-siding warehouse building. It’s parking lot is surrounded by fence and is rather unassuming. As I got out of my car I did wonder; what could possibly make eight partners come together to dream, finance and implement batting cages? And in Woodland no less! Those thoughts immediately dissipated from my mind the moment I walked through the doors to the training area. It was like nothing I imagined; it is spacious, it is organized, and it looks to be top of the line professional.
Even before sitting down with NITF’s Managing Partner & day-to-day Manager, Andy Tanberg, my mind was racing. As I walked around I imagined all the kids, parents, teams and coaches lining up to utilize the four tunnels (all with graduating pitching speeds; little league to big league), 60 yard dirt double bullpen (with mounts for all levels) and an 80ft x 80ft turf infield. This is the perfect place to train your athlete or team no matter the level of play OR the weather outside.
NITF is a field of dreams, waiting for the people of Woodland and surrounding areas to come… and recognize this diamond in the ruff.
“This is not a small town batting cage.” – Andy Tanberg
START AND STOP
Andy: About three years ago I tried to rent a little building, the fields were no longer available through the city or the school district. They were no longer letting the travel ball teams utilize the fields and I had a travel ball team. So we were looking for a spot to put a couple of cages and maybe a little turf infield with rolling bat cages. We (the coaching staff from the Hitman Travel ball team) couldn’t find a good location, but once we found one we had to jump through hoops to get the building so it never worked out. We figured it’s not going to happen in Woodland so we dismissed it.
KEEPING THE DREAM ALIVE…IN A BACKYARD
Andy: A friend and I kept talking about why we never opened the facility. We just agreed it wasn’t going to happen. But I had a batting cage at my house. J.J. Sherrill, who played in the Cleveland Indian’s organization, decided he needed a place to hit and teach lessons. So I let him use my house and it blew up! Everyone in town knew who J.J. Sherrill was. But he then got an offer to go to L.A. I convinced him staying here would be better.
Kelly: To do what he was doing in your backyard? Andy: Right, so he said, “Winter is coming, it’s going to get dark at four o’clock. We need to do something.” This was in November of 2014, maybe October. I told him I’d find a place if he stayed. We looked at five or six buildings but the zoning wasn’t right. Finally, someone brought up the location we are in now and thought it would be perfect.
GO BIG OR GO HOME
Andy: I had looked at this location three years ago but it was too big for what I wanted to do by myself. So, I called a bunch of my friends who some way or another were connected to baseball. We had a big meeting and we decided this was an opportunity to get the kids of Woodland to stay in Woodland. If we do it correctly, we will get kids from everywhere. We wanted to do everything correctly the first time; so we put in an 80x80ft infield with fences and nets, we did the 60 yard dirt double bullpen, and we did the four full tunnels and one training tunnel. It’s very hard to find an indoor facility for pitchers that has dirt. It’s set up for three different mounds and home plate placements.
(Editor note: This is where my Field of Dreams reference comes into play. This facility is no joke. They went all out, literally thinking of every scenario and then building it early on in the process. Additionally, NITF is at least double the size, if not more, of the other similar business I researched in the area.)
THERE’S ALWAYS A CATCH
Andy: Our biggest problem is that there are people in Woodland that still don’t know we are here. By doing everything correctly (installing all the equipment noted above) it leaves a very low budget for advertising. But I don’t think there is a person who has come through the door that hasn’t come back. The problem is getting them to the door.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Andy: We’ve talked to pee wee football organizations and they’ve asked if they can use the 80x80ft field. Once the outside temperatures hit 100 degrees they aren’t suppose to practice outside. Kelly: Is the field marked with lines? Andy: We purposefully didn’t mark the field with baseball lines. The soccer teams can play here too. We’ve done birthday parties and we just started sign ups for whiffle ball league.
Kelly: What makes you different that your competitors? Andy: I’ve been everywhere to see them. In our space we’ve already had two softball teams and a high school baseball team workout at the same time. We also rent the entire facility out for $100 during off hours. So if someone wanted to rent for a travel ball team, for example, we will come down and open the doors. If you want it at 7am on a Saturday morning we can open the doors.
Kelly: So the advantage of coming here is the flexibility during off hours, the space and the programs. Andy: That’s right. One thing people don’t understand is that we provide the facility for your son or daughter to train at no cost to the instructor/coach. We don’t take a percentage from the trainer. We rent the cage, no matter who is working with the athlete.
CALLING ALL WOODLANDERS
Andy: We’ve had three pro athletes in here. They’ve told us that if in their off season they lived close to here they would be here working out, using our facility. This is not a small town batting cage. We’ve set it up to be the nicest one within a 100 mile radius. We want you to come in and look at our place.
Visit NITF at their website, here. Stop by and see what I saw.
Stay local, spend local.