From the outset, when they first met about five years ago, Matt Spangler and Chris Hoiles knew they were each baseball men.
At the time, Hoiles was just learning the ropes as the inaugural manager of the York Revolution, while Spangler wore many different hats in various baseball leagues.
And both shared a similar passion to bring an indoor baseball facility to York County.
"I'm a big Orioles fan and I knew Chris from watching him on TV," Spangler said. "We sat down and talked. And Chris will tell you he saw the same thing I did. This area didn't have anything like this."
Spangler made those comments Tuesday while standing alongside Hoiles inside a facility that's been years in the making. Founded and
"We looked at buildings in York. We just really couldn't find the right building," Spangler said. "So we just kept our patience and kept looking and looking. One day I just drove by here and I saw a sign saying 'building for lease.'"
The former site of Champions Gymnastics, the 7,200-square-foot facility has been undergoing a facelift since October. Contractors were brought in to install turf and netting while Hoiles and Spangler searched for baseball and softball equipment and developed business cards, brochures and a website.
"I don't know a total number, but within two weeks of being open we've had numerous people in, not only working out but just coming in and checking it out," Hoiles said.
The former Baltimore Orioles' catcher and former Revs' skipper now lives in the Spring Grove Area School District with his wife, Dana, and their three sons. Hoiles, an Ohio native, and Spangler have become close in recent years through rooting for their sons -- Spring Grove juniors Nick Spangler and Dalton Hoiles -- in the Rockets' baseball program. Chris Hoiles, 47, and Matt Spangler, a 1989 Spring Grove grad, also serve as coaches in the Mason-Dixon Ruffnecks organization, a local youth baseball travel team.
Facility: The duo has many plans for the academy, which includes three training areas and seven multi-use batting and pitching tunnels. While they welcome soccer and football organizations to use the facility, the primary focus will be on baseball and softball.
"We want to start holding showcase events in this area for kids who are aspiring to get recruited by colleges," Spangler said. "Right now a lot of the local athletes are going outside of York County to go to showcase events."
Hoiles is also aiming to use his baseball connections to bring in some big-name baseball talents to hold clinics. Former big league pitcher Arthur Rhodes will hold a pitching clinic at the academy on Dec. 29. And Hoiles himself plans to run a catching clinic in February before he leaves to help out at the Orioles' spring training in Sarasota, Fla.
The facility is believed to be the first of its kind in York County, although that could soon change, since former Revs' player Jason Aspito is working on opening an indoor facility in Red Lion. Either way, Hoiles said the important thing is that local athletes are getting an opportunity to advance their skills.
"We're all about the kids," Hoiles said. "We're about the development of the kids, and if we can help them along the way to get to the next level, whatever level that is."
For information on the Rhodes clinic and rental and training fees, visit goldglovesportsacademy.net or call 792-0690.
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.