@Bat focuses on skills year-round in Farmington
Entrepreneur Scott Hughes believes a quote from former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter: "There may be people who have more talent than you but there's no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do."
"This is one of my favorite quotes in life because I think to get the returns in life, you have to put in the work," Hughes said.
After two years of eyeing the commercial space, Hughes and his wife Kristi opened their dream facility, @Bat Player Development, on Nov. 2. The indoor baseball and softball training facility is next door to Family Fresh grocery store off Elm Street in downtown Farmington.
@Bat provides sports training for athletes of all ages. Inside the 24-hour, seven-day-a-week facility, there are 18-foot ceilings and three full-sized cages. The facility offers pitching machines with automatic ball feed, pitching tunnels and portable baseball mounds and mats for softball.
@Bat will hold a grand opening from 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2. The public can check out the new space where there will be bat demonstrations and representatives selling bats and talking about baseball and softball.
The Hughes' children all play softball and baseball, including twins, Kamryn, 12, her brother Jace, 12, and their youngest child, Makenna. For years, Hughes has coached his children's youth sports teams and the family has been involved in the community of Farmington for 16 years.
Hughes is pumped up to offer a venue for athletes to play year around, especially in the off season and winter months. He feels there is a demand for an indoor sports facility since the nearest indoor sports facilities are in Burnsville and Apple Valley.
Young player, entrepreneur
Playing ball since he was a young boy growing up in River Falls, Wis., Hughes said he wants to help develop skills kids can take to the field.
"We will be open year around and what I am making is an environment where they can have fun and continue to develop their skills in the sport and when the season starts they will be ready to play again," he said. "Both our baseball and softball programs are really strong in Farmington, so there is continued growth at the youth level.
Hughes said he has thought about opening a business since he was 16.
"I remember as a little kid my coach Rick Ulberg, and ever since he made me love the game of baseball," he said. Hughes looks forward to showing his childhood coach the new facility.
Hughes is not new to business. For 16 years he has worked as a business intelligence developer at C.H. Robinson in Eden Prairie.
"We work with businesses to do analytical reporting that the whole network can use," he said.
In high school, Hughes played baseball as a star catcher. He ended up competing in an all-star game his senior year. After high school, he played one year at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. When the college ball program was cut, it did not weaken his desire to play ball.
"I played fast pitch and traveled around the United States and British Columbia, playing fast pitch for eight years and then I played in the world tournament and played against teams in Australia and Japan," he said. "It was a lot of fun and very interesting."
"I have always been an entrepreneur, and I even owned by own business at 12 years old where I was mowing lawns," Hughes added.
His grandpa Charles Cipra nurtured his youthful entrepreneurial spirit and planted a seed. His grandfather constructed a cart to fit his grandson's lawnmower, gas can and trimmer.
Hughes is now busy networking with head coaches from Farmington Girls Fastpitch Association and Farmington Travel Baseball Association. Hughes is working with five local instructors who can help him connect with teams and players and help grow the sport.
Even though there is an indoor space for athletes to practice at Farmington High, the teams cannot use real balls like at @Bat indoors sports facility, Hughes said.
@Bat would plans to develop mentoring of veteran baseball and softball players with young athletes.
"I am all about trying to give the kids playing opportunities, and I would like to see the older kids working with younger kids, travel kids at the high school and I would like to offer combination clinics," Hughes said.
Besides athletes, @Bat hopes to be a family fun destination.
@Bat is located at 115 Elm St., Suite B, Farmington. For more information, call 651-344-7999 or go to www.AtBatMN.com.