- Associated Press - Friday, February 13, 2015

INMAN, Kan. (AP) - Three families’ pursued a dream. They hoped if they turned a hay field into a training center for athletes, people would come.

Sounds like the theme of the movie “Fields of Dreams,” but here in McPherson County it’s Fields of Inman.

Tim and Jenny Cheatham, Jon and Amber Brown, Sausha and Greg Frieson opened the 365 Sports Complex in March and the people are coming. Even Jim Aylward, a former California Angels player was hired recently to work part time with youth and coordinate training clinics.

“It was a wild idea,” said Jon Brown, about making the commitment to build the training center. He attributes the idea directly to Tim Cheatham who owns a McPherson construction business. The complex is built on land owned by the Browns on old K-61, just north of Inman.

What they have created is a facility where people of all ages can practice their sport year-round. Why wait until spring to begin training for summer ball when you can practice pitching on a dark, snowy night in January inside a 15,000-square-foot space? Soccer teams can get in after-hour drills, and football players can work on passing the ball, no matter the weather.

Even when the turf is busy, there also are batting cages, and people can practice their swings 18 hours a day, 365 days of the year if they choose to do so. The complex is available for rent hourly for any sports team that needs an indoor practice facility. The owners provide goal posts for football, soccer goals and batting cages, pitching mounds, and hitting T’s. The dirt-packed floor is covered in one-inch thick Bermuda-looking artificial turf that can be used for football, baseball, softball, soccer, speed and agility training, and volleyball.

Along with the practice facility, they have formed the Central Kansas Crushers, which is composed of competitive youth softball and baseball teams. They practice on Sunday afternoons and evenings.

“We want people to know we provide for every sport, to better your game,” Jon Brown told The Hutchinson News (https://bit.ly/1M5JeHL ).

He said the idea was born when they were at Balls and Strikes, a training facility in Wichita. They wanted to create something similar in Inman, a small town situated on K-61 between Hutchinson and McPherson. They chose Inman because that’s where the best property was for their needs. There is plenty of parking and even plans for an outdoor baseball diamond.

Currently, teams come in from as far away as Hoisington. But the business also gives kids who only want to play other sports an opportunity to play year round, Brown said.

Aylward, who lives in Southern California, says he’s excited to get started at the complex. A past infielder, he has played all four positions at the professional level, but mainly he was a third or first baseman. He has coached at the collegiate and high school level.

“My passion is baseball and working with kids,” he said. “I do a lot of lessons here in California.”

He learned of 365 Sports Complex from his friend Chad Tinson, who lives in Lyons. Aylward sells used artificial turf repurposed from football fields at universities and other places. Aylward plans to work with Tinson who is a alfalfa broker, and then work part time at the sports complex.

“I’m looking at weekly clinics and lessons and a camp in the future,” Aylward said. He plans to relocate his wife and two children to the area.

There are a lot of people who don’t think of baseball until spring, but that wouldn’t be anyone hanging out at the 365 Sports Complex.

As a place for indoor practice, Ed Whitfield, McPherson, says the 365 Sports Complex can’t be beat. He works with the Central Kansas Thunder, a competitive tournament team, in the Central Kansas baseball league, and they are currently renting the complex during the colder months.

“It’s getting more and more competitive,” Whitfield said. “Players are pressed to be better and better and this is just another way of making kids better players by practicing earlier.”

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Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, https://www.hutchnews.com


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