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Indoor baseball training at The Dome

Published: Feb. 4, 2021 at 11:14 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska is known for its beautiful summers when home runs and strikeouts are aplenty, but also known for its frigid winters where base hits and stolen bases are hard to come by. That is unless you have happened to be in The Dome on a Saturday in the last three years.

“Every Saturday from noon to 2 we rent the entire doom to be able to play baseball games indoors. It is something really difficult to do in Alaska just because of our climate restrictions. And so a lot of these kids their identity is wrapped around being a ballplayer so in facilitating this, it is 10 degrees outside and they are able to do what they love,” Jamar Hill, director of Gamers Baseball RBI Alaska said.

Hill and a few of his coaching friends are helping 40 to 50 kids a session keep their skills sharp in a sport that is all about repetition. Those kids ranging from 9-year-olds all the way to the 18-year-olds who have already committed to playing the sport at the next level, and those aged in between know just how fortunate they are.

Thomas Molloy, a freshman at Eagle River High School and a Gamers Baseball veteran, said, “I feel kind of lucky because like usually a lot of kids aren’t able to do this right now I feel kind of blessed.”

That was the mood throughout the whole two-hour session, a sense of joy knowing that for the next 120 minutes they get to do what they love. However renting out the whole Dome isn’t easy and Hill explained it best by saying that it is sort of like Anchorage’s version of central park with so many different things taking place at the same time, so just getting the time slot is a privilege in itself.

Right now it is just a training session with throwing, hitting and fielding training, but Hill is hoping to grow it into much more than that.

“The hope of it is to eventually have organized winter teams that come in and are able to play games and just be able to provide a baseball experience that is similar to a warm-weather state,” Hill said.

When you think about it in a warm-weather state like Florida or Texas, athletes are able to train outside all year round, a luxury that Alaskans don’t exactly have. You can throw a ball at full speed into a net until your heart is content but there is no telling if that ball would have gone left, right or down if the net extended another 10 feet. Just giving the young athletes a place to hone their skills is important to Hill and Gamers Baseball.

“I kind of go by the 10 person rule so for any ten kids I would say maybe two of them are like, ‘hey, this is what I want to do born and bred baseball player,’” Hill said. “A larger percentage of them there is a social component where it’s like, ‘hey, this is a place to be encouraged and have friends and just have a positive outlet.’”

And that is what Hill and the rest of the coaches are doing for the kids: working to build better players on the diamond but also better people off the diamond.

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