New baseball and softball gym in Ammon helps young athletes improve their skills
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AMMON – There’s only one thing Billy Butler loves more than baseball and that’s being able to pass on his love and knowledge of the game to young athletes.
He and his wife, Katie, opened the Idaho Athlete Project at 2770 East 14th North in Ammon on Dec. 1. It is an 8,200-square-foot baseball and softball training facility.
“The response has been great,” Billy tells EastIdahoNews.com. “We have 35-40 members already.”
The business provides athletes and anyone who wants to increase their performance in the sport a place to practice with batting cages and a pitching area. There are also weights and treadmills so people can work out.
A monthly membership provides access to the building year-round and one-on-coaching is available from people who have worked and played with some of the biggest names in minor and major league baseball. Baseball camps are also held throughout the year.
“We just had our first holiday camp. There was a good turnout for that,” Butler says. “We did a hitting and pitching set. Each age group was full, so it’s been going really well. We’ve been very busy.”
Though there are other similar types of businesses in the area, business manager Jake Arehart says the thing that sets their business apart is the ability to offer equipment and training under one roof as well as coaching from experienced professionals.
Billy says he was inspired to start this business because he loves helping people succeed in sports and instilling confidence in their abilities.
“I’ve been a part of facilities like these my whole life. I grew up in Florida and I trained at one of these things on my off-seasons. I grew up in a baseball academy and got put around the right people to help me succeed, and my angle is to help people get better at (this sport),” he says.
Billy started playing baseball when he was 9-years-old. He was involved in baseball academies and leagues over the years and was drafted by the Kansas City Royals out of high school.
He went on to play a season with the Idaho Falls Chukars and that’s where he met his wife.
“We’ve lived in Idaho Falls on and off for the last 17 years,” says Billy.
His Chukars jersey is displayed prominently on the wall in his office. Following his time with the Chukars, Billy enjoyed a 10-year career in the MLB playing for the Kansas City Royals, the Oakland Athletics, and the New York Yankees.
“I can give a lot of knowledge to young kids and help them along the way, not just in baseball but in life,” he says.
Andrew Gregersen, an outfielder for the College of Southern Idaho Golden Eagles, also frequents the Idaho Athlete Project.
“I wish this had been available a long time ago,” says Gregersen. “The community has needed something like this for a long time.”
Watch Gregersen train in the video player above.
“Every kid I work with is at a different level, and that’s what you have to remember as a coach. You’re trying to make each of them better and get them to a certain level. The main thing I instill in all of them is confidence to continue to play the game,” says Billy.
Giving kids a place to play in a safe and positive atmosphere during these turbulent times and watching their confidence grow is the most rewarding part of the job for Billy. He’s excited to see what the future brings.
Idaho Athlete Project is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. The cost of memberships and other information is available by calling (208) 523-1316. You can also visit the website or Facebook page.