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‘The Barn’ provides space for kids to play baseball, learn life lessons

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Player practices swing at pitching camp in Hibbard | Rett Nelson,

HIBBARD – The love of a game brought dozens of young athletes together for a baseball pitching camp in Hibbard Saturday.

Madison High School’s Varsity and Junior Varsity Baseball Team and others met at The Barn, a baseball training facility, to prepare for the upcoming season.

Steve Nelson, Area Director for the National Pitching Association and owner of the Utah Pitching Academy, spent the day teaching local ballplayers about grip, how to get the most of their fastball, correct posture and even address a few misconceptions.

“A lot of the conventional wisdom (of any sport) is repeated so often it’s thought of as fact,” Nelson says, which is why he focuses on proven science and research.

One of the common misconceptions, according to Nelson, has to do with timing.

“You (need to have your) foot down before you throw. Timing and the (placement of your feet) is the most important thing. If we get that down, a lot of the (common problems) just vanish.”

Nelson says the techniques he taught at Saturday’s camp are applicable to many different sports.

Steve Nelson teaching the twelve and under group Saturday morning about pitching and throwing | Rett Nelson,

The National Pitching Association has worked with many professional athletes over the years, including Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Nolan Ryan. Nelson’s instruction to local athletes on Saturday is the same instruction provided to many professional athletes.

Creating an opportunity for kids to play baseball

The Barn, left, as it was eight years ago and right, it’s appearance now

Young athletes have been coming to The Barn for the last eight years to improve their game. The building, once a barn for horses and other livestock, now offers 8,400 square feet of space for individual and team practice. It includes seven heated indoor batting cages for year-round use, as well as an outdoor infield.

But Justin Kostial, who owns the facility, says The Barn is about much more than baseball.

“Our motto is ‘You get what you give,'” says Kostial. “In today’s day and age, kids have everything handed to them. I want them to understand they can have anything they want in life if they’re willing to work for it.”

Kostial knows first-hand what it’s like to work for something he wants in life. He was passionate about baseball as a kid, but his parents never had enough money for him to play.

“When I was 12, I was finally able to play. I talked my parents into paying $45 (to join little league). For us, that was huge,” says Kostial.

He went on to play baseball in high school for a couple years. During that time, his parents got divorced and he went to live with his uncle. Kostial had to put baseball on hold so that he could work to pay his way through high school.

“It was my dream to create opportunities for kids to play baseball, not only for those who can afford it but also those who can’t afford it,” says Kostial. “If they’re willing to come and work (off the price of admission), I’m going to give them some time to play baseball.”

Kostial says those kids who learn how to work often go on to become great athletes.

“We have a kid who, three years ago, went from playing right field, batting once a game to making Team USA this last year,” says Kostial. “To me, that’s huge and he contributes all of it to The Barn.”

Along with hard work and practice, Nelson says another important ingredient for success is having a positive coach or role model.

“You’re defined in baseball by how you deal with failure,” Nelson says.

A good coach makes a huge difference in how we learn to respond to failure, he says.

“Baseball is such a great game and I want to see it perform the function it should, which is to make life better and more fulfilling for everyone that participates,” Nelson says. “At some point, we have to take the lessons we learn from sports and do something in life with it.”

The Barn is hosting Bat Demo Days for the public Wednesday, Feb. 6. You’re invited to try your hand in the batting cages from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The Barn is located at 1304 N. 4000 W. in Rexburg. The cost is $10 for a single hourly pass or $45 for a monthly pass. Team passes are also available for $50. Visit the website to learn more or call (208) 339-1859.

Player putting the balls away | Rett Nelson,