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The Dugout

Underground practice facility provides year round conditioning, community and fun

Jalen Nicholson-Bourn feeds a ball into a pitching machine as Gabe Blazek, 10, gets ready to swing. Blazek and Nicholson-Bourn, a Chicago native who plays baseball for Southwestern Community College, both utilize The Dugout for additional practice space when weather conditions are not favorable on the field.
Jalen Nicholson-Bourn feeds a ball into a pitching machine as Gabe Blazek, 10, gets ready to swing. Blazek and Nicholson-Bourn, a Chicago native who plays baseball for Southwestern Community College, both utilize The Dugout for additional practice space when weather conditions are not favorable on the field.

What began as a way for a few kids to get in some batting practice during the winter months, has now turned in to a year-round practice facility for baseball, T-ball and softball athletes alike.

The Dugout is an underground practice facility, which exists below Henry’s Martial Arts, 230 N. Pine St.

“I wanted to get them in there working on their batting and pitching (during the winter),” said Creston parent and coach Joe Anson. “As we put stuff in there, more kids started coming in and I figured we would make it for all the youth.”

Year-round facility

Anson said there isn’t a facility in the the area like The Dugout.

The facility, which accommodates children just starting T-ball all the way to college athletes playing baseball at Southwestern Community college, features 10 different stations.

“We have a pitching station that’s set up for ages 4-5, 6-7 and the SWCC kids pitch in there. We have one batting cage right now that’s feasible for baseball or softball,” said Anson.

Because Anson has two pitching machines, he is working on installing a second batting cage as the membership of the facility is starting to soar.

Anson, who has funded much of the facility and its equipment out of his own pocket and donations from friends, said he believes the facility is an asset to the community. He hopes to partner with a 501c3 in the near future to help cover expenses and improve the facility.

“It’s going to help develop our high school team,” said Anson. “The improvement is just awesome ... taking kids that hardly played or were afraid to play, or couldn’t field the ball ... now they are out there on the ball field confident in their abilities, which is big.”

The Dugout

Anson likes the location because he can accommodate pitching and batting activities in the basement, while offering conditioning workouts upstairs inside Henry’s Martial Arts.

Currently, an average of 20 athletes use the facility a night and it is rented to groups, who use the practice space when their home fields are either too wet or cold to practice.

“Last spring, I had ... 12 practices in there, and there were teams that had one or two in because they couldn’t get in anywhere because it was raining,” said Anson.

Membership to The Dugout is currently $30 a month per person. The group rental rate is $25 per hour and a half.

The hours are currently not set, but Anson said the facility is open most evenings and Sunday afternoons. After Jan. 1, the facility will be open five nights a week.

“The kids just love it. To be competitive at any level, with any sport, you have to practice it year round,” said Anson.

For more information about The Dugout, contact Anson at 515-720-4727.

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