Line Drive U swings into new season
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Line Drive U
WHERE: 2577 Nowlin Road, Minden
WHEN: Open 4-9 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
COST: This first week, a discount rate of $300 for a family (the normal rate is $350) is being offered for a winter/spring season that will extend through June 30. A new season will be open from July 1 through Jan. 1, 2019 at a rate of $250, according to Joe Gooch. Hitting tunnels are available at a rate of $30 per hour.
Line Drive U has swung open the doors with a new look and big plans for its 15th season of operation.
Line Drive, located at 2577 Nowlin Road (just off Johnson Lane), is an indoor baseball/softball training facility that officially re-opened on Friday. Call it a 20,000 square foot diamond sport paradise that has been remodeled to offer some additional features, including a new fitness training area with basketball court, new hitting tunnels and an infield for fielding practice.
Joe Gooch, president for Line Drive’s nonprofit 501C3 board of directors, said countless hours of work were put in during the offseason to prepare for a facility that is open to anyone, yet specifically designed to benefit young baseball and softball players.
“All of the lighting is new, the basketball court and weight training area and the tunnels are new, and we brought turf in,” Gooch said.
“The options are endless in here now. I actually want to have whiffle ball tournaments in here,” he added with a chuckle.
Gooch, 45, who is entering his second year as president for a board that includes Eddie Doughty, Brian Peck, Joey McNinch, Patti Snyder, John Glover and Don Amaral. As a nonprofit, the facility continues to operate through community support, he explained.
“All the effort, the sweat and the equity that went into this was done for the kids,” Gooch said. “Everybody in here is doing it for them. Everything that was in the bank account is in this facility. It’s about providing a place for our kids to go to thrive in their sports.”
Another new feature at Line Drive is Nick Lonnegren as a private trainer and coach. Lonnegren is a 2004 Douglas High graduate who later played football and basketball plus he ran track at Butte College.
“Nick has a full strength and conditioning setup,” Gooch said. “He will offer speed training for teams, strength training, basketball lessons and stuff like that. He’s going to be an amazing addition to this place.”
For anyone preparing to play softball or baseball, Line Drive offers an opportunity to get a head start on their season.
“It’s such an asset to these athletes,” Gooch said. “We have Douglas High School in here, baseball and softball; Carson Valley Express (baseball) is in here, the Hotshots, Nevada Arsenal Baseball, Little League and Carson Valley Fastpitch all come in here, and a lot of kids are in here staying fresh when they come home from college. It’s just amazing what it’s done for this community in the diamond sports area.”
In the past, hitters have been able to spend time in the batting cage and pitchers work off a mound. Now, coaches can also hit infield to their teams.
“Tunnels 2-through-6 can all collapse to the back wall and we have a 60-foot infield in here, so teams can rent the infield if they want it,” Gooch said. “I would have loved to get a full 90-foot infield in here, but we do have a 60-foot infield (for softball and Little League).”
Gooch, who owns a custom painting business in South Lake Tahoe, saw the benefits during a recent practice with his 12U Nevada Hotshots team.
“I was literally beat down from working, and you never know how things are going to work out until you try it, but I’ll tell you, I walked out of here floating on Cloud 9,” he said. “Just to be able to run infield in here when it’s 30 degrees outside is amazing.”
A snackbar and lounge area are also available for parents and for coaches to conduct video analysis sessions, he added.
Line Drive originally opened in 2004 through the vision and design of Amaral and Rocky Walling. Amaral is now preparing to start his first season as head coach of the Douglas High baseball program.
Gooch expressed gratitude to individuals and businesses in the community that have donated and supported Line Drive: Menzer Roofing, Douglas Disposal, America Rents, Tractor Supply, Ahern Rentals, Minden Electric, Wesco Electric, Tod Williamson Construction, Lukins Water Company, Bill Walter, Joe Conti, Leonard Lee, Clint Celio, Buck McLelland, Jan Pledger, Martin Reyes and Josh Bleeker.
“The goal is to make this the premiere place in Northern Nevada. I feel that with what we’ve done, as far as the diamond sports side of it goes, and then by adding Nick, it just takes us over the top in what we can offer as a full training facility,” Gooch said.
Gooch knows a thing or two about playing baseball in snow country during the spring, having played baseball (as well as basketball) just up the mountain at South Tahoe High School. He has been involved as a coach with the Hotshots for the last four years and is now serving as president of the Carson Valley Fastpitch youth softball organization. He coached an 8U Hotshots team that played at the 2015 California State Summer Games softball tournament in San Diego.
“Me being around baseball my whole life — my dad coached for 20 years — so it’s just a passion; it’s in my blood,” he said. “Being around the diamond is like being home to me.”