Adam LaLonde still gets a thrill watching the light come on for one of the girl softball players he trains.
“For me, the fun is watching these kids succeed,” said LaLonde, a professional softball player who has been working with players in the Tri-State for six years. “They get phenomenal confidence after one lesson. Their skill level skyrockets.”
LaLonde, who calls Ashland his home, has a full dance card when it comes to students. He said he has 120 teaching slots in four days and there is not one opening.
He taught at Championship Fastpitch in the Cannonsburg area the past five years, but now is leasing space at the HIT Center in Huntington, a comprehensive fitness facility focusing on weight loss, fitness and sport specific center. HIT stands for High Intensity Training, but HIT works well with LaLonde, too, since he is regarded as one of the top hitting instructors in the country.
The HIT Center is now home for the Adam LaLonde USA Softball Training Academy, one of only four official USA Softball Training academies in the nation. The other sites are Shula Vista, Calif., Altamonte Springs, Fla., and Salt Lake City.
“Their (the USA Softball) exact words were ‘We are honored for you to carry our name,’’’ he said.
Ultimately, LaLonde said, he wants to prepare his students for playing at the college level. To that end, he will be bringing in big-name college coaches for clinics to the HIT Center.
“On Feb. 1 I have the head coach of the University of Oregon not only doing a coaches’ clinic, but doing four different two-hour sessions of small-group pitching,” LaLonde said. “He’s the pitching coach for the USA National team, Michael White, my former teammate.”
LaLonde had an open house Jan. 4 at the HIT Center and the turnout was huge. The spacious center opened up some space just for LaLonde’s students. “We can have two cages going, multiple (hitting and fielding) drills and stations. There’s a lot of cool tools we’re using in there.”
The HIT Center opened the new 8,000-square-foot turfed softball/baseball and soccer facility for sports development. Next to the new turfed area is a 5,000-square-foot sport court with a full-length basketball court and soccer goals for indoor skills training.
John Oxley, the HIT Center director, said having LaLonde and his students at the facility is “the perfect marriage. I believe we can help each other.”
Ty McKinney, a coach at West Virginia Tech and formerly an assistant at Morehead State, is teaching with LaLonde. They were also Team USA teammates.
LaLonde is leasing space at the HIT Center on Monday through Friday.
“Softball is year around now,” LaLonde said. “It’s a sport where kids are wanting to get training and playing time.”
Besides the 120 students, LaLonde said he had a waiting list of 52.
“These girls are nuts over it,” he said. “A lot of college coaches come in to evaluate these kids.”
Those interested in getting on the waiting list may call LaLonde at (606) 465-4113.
MARK MAYNARD can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2648.