BREWER, Maine — When it’s cold outside and baseball and softball fields are covered with snow, there are few places in the area where people can go to hone their pitching and batting skills.
But now, the W.I.N. Training Center, an indoor pitching, hitting and fielding facility on Wilson Street that opened Saturday, provides area athletes a place to go out of the cold to improve their skills.
“W.I.N. stands for ‘work is necessary,’” said Tim Crowell, who partnered with Steve Babin to open the facility. “In order to win, work is necessary.”
“We want all kids to have a chance to play baseball and softball all year long,” said Babin.
The facility has four hitting and pitching tunnels and a fielding area that is covered with green turf to simulate grass.
The tunnels can be hired for half an hour or a full hour, and “we offer instruction so you can get a coach to work with you,” Babin said.
The facility is not a batting cage, where you plug in a quarter to hit five balls, the owners stressed.
“We’re a training center,” Babin said. “We want people to come in and work on batting fundamentals.”
Just after the facility opened Saturday, Rodney Chapman brought in his son Jacob, 8, to see what W.I.N. had to offer.
Chapman, who thought he was going to see batting cages, said he brought in his son because “he was bored” at home in Holden.
“It’s much better,” Chapman said while watching his son — “who loves baseball” — work one-on-one with a coach about how to hit a baseball properly.
Crowell, a Brewer High School assistant junior varsity softball coach, and Babin, who has coached youth sports for 15 years, said the endeavor has been a dream of theirs for quite some time.
The two Brewer residents and their families are running the operation with the help of some “highly skilled coaches” to provide training and the clinics.
“We’re willing to work with any boy or girl from age 8 all the way up to college,” Babin said. “We have the equipment” for all those age groups.
Brewer Deputy Mayor Joseph Ferris, who was accompanied by City Councilors Manley DeBeck and Jerry Goss, welcomed the business to town, and presented Babin and Crowell with a plaque and a key to the city.
“The city stands behind you,” Ferris said. “Having a baseball and softball [training center] so close to home is a great thing.”
Ferris, who was a University of Maine pitcher whose team took third place at the 1964 College World Series in Omaha, Neb., said there were no indoor training facilities around when he was playing baseball.
“We couldn’t even get them to open Brewer Auditorium,” he said before the plaque presentation. “This is wonderful to have here in Brewer.”
The training facility, which is open afternoons and evenings seven days a week, offers clinics for pitchers and hitters, and plans to offer speed and agility training in the future.
To find out more, visit the W.I.N. Web site at wintrainingcenter.com.