Winter is the perfect time for athletes to begin indoor sports training. Mike Grady has been well aware of that fact for many years. Grady played high school baseball for North Canton Hoover before he went on to pitch for Ohio Wesleyan University. By 2005 he was playing professionally for the Washington Wild Things. Ultimately returning to the Canton area, Grady was the pitching coach for Malone University through 2009. In the summer of 2010, Grady started coaching the Stark County Terriers of the Great Lakes Collegiate Baseball League where five pitchers went on to play professional baseball. It was during that period that Grady was asked if he would be willing to coach young athletes. He helped pilot a velocity training pitching class which allowed athletes to add up to 4 miles per hour to their pitch speed and eventually Grady became a private pitching coach working with more than 100 athletes at a local fitness facility. Two of Grady’s students were the sons of Mike Olivieri, which is when the subject of partnering in a new building was discussed.
Velocity Sports is the collaboration of co-owners Olivieri and Grady. With Olivieri’s knowledge and experience in general contracting as the owner of Olivieri Contracting, Inc., and Grady’s ten years of experience as a pitching coach and the owner of Grady’s Pitching School, it was a perfect match. They chose to locate their facility in North Canton due to its proximity to Route 77, making it a centralized location for residents of North Canton, Jackson Township, Green and other local communities. Many of those local communities have begun utilizing Velocity Sports for their indoor workouts and upcoming seasons. The 4,500 square-foot building has three turf batting cage areas with nets that can be retracted to form one large training area which can accommodate yoga and strength classes, speed and agility training, and dodgeball. The strength training area includes free weights, a squat rack, bench press, BOSU balls, medicine balls, and more. Their mission statement is “To help athletes become faster, stronger and quicker” and their focus is on improving pitching velocity and bat speed.
Grady says, “Whether it’s pitching or bat speed or running speed or catcher pop time, it’s all about speed now.” Working with athletes as young as 8 years old, Velocity Sports currently has several college students among the 100 athletes training at their facility. They provide a range of options from group sport specific training to individual instruction. After an initial evaluation and performance analysis, they will advise areas where improvement is needed, and students can choose individual or group training. The facility can accommodate up to 30 people at a time for a class, while they keep group training classes at a player-coach ratio of 8:1.
Grady has trained several baseball players who are currently attending Kent State, Ohio State, Butler, Earlham College, Malone University and John Carroll University. Working with Grady at Velocity Sports are three pitching coaches, a batting coach, a Certified Personal Trainer and a Doctor of Physical Therapy. Although their main focus is improving pitching velocity and bat speed for baseball and softball players, personal training sessions are also available for both young athletes and adults.
Velocity Sports is in the process of developing a curriculum to offer clinics for coaches. At the present time, 12 local teams are using the facility as their home for indoor practices. Teams and groups can rent the entire facility by the hour. A unique feature, rather than monthly memberships, Velocity Sports offers prepaid cards for up to 2,400 minutes. As minutes are used for batting cages, they are deducted and the card is merely reloaded when needed.
While Grady will oversee the coaching side of the business, Olivieri’s role will be bookkeeping and public relations as Velocity Sports looks to add yoga and Pilates classes in the future. They are offering the facility for birthday party rentals, and have several booked already. Recently they held Friday Fun Days where parents were able to drop their children off to play dodgeball, kickball, whiffle ball and other games for a few hours. They intend to schedule additional Fun Days in the future and you can check the website and Facebook for details.
For more recreational opportunities, they are in the process of developing a summer adult dodgeball league, and are considering additional possibilities such as bocce ball, a golf simulator, and corn hole tournaments. For more information about Velocity Sports, visit their website at velosportsohio.com.
Velocity Sports Training Ohio