Adam Duvall of the Cincinnati Reds is currently a household name in Major League Baseball. He has burst onto the scene this year hitting a staggering 23 home runs during the first half of the season, just one shy of the National League home run leader. Even though he may be living the good life currently, his road to the Major Leagues was anything but easy. However, with the help of RoundTripper catching instructor, Kevin Christman, Duvall got his shot.
Christman has served as a scout with the three-time World Champion San Francisco Giants for 11 years. During the offseason, Christman is also a lead instructor at RoundTripper, where he works specifically with catchers. Although he has a lot of responsibilities in the world of baseball, his true passion is scouting young talent.
When Kevin first saw Adam Duvall on a baseball diamond, his power was what caught his eye immediately. “He had bat speed, smooth power, and he battled pitchers with great plate appearance.” Said Kevin. Even though these are all qualities that scouts look for in players, Duvall was slightly overlooked during his amateur playing days. “He had some injuries that changed up his game a little bit. He put on more muscle and because of that, he started to rely on his strength more so than his natural abilities.” Despite this, Duvall was taken by the Giants in the 11th round of the 2010 MLB Draft. After spending 4 years moving his way through the ranks of minor league baseball, he was called up in June 2014, but his first stint in the majors did not last long. After spending more time in the minors, Duvall was traded during the July 2015 trade deadline to the Cincinnati Reds.
After being traded to the Reds, Duvall showed some promise with his new team, hitting a home run in his first at bat. After the Reds’ season came to a close, Duvall knew that coming into 2016 Spring Training, he was still competing for a roster spot. After making the team originally as a platoon player, Duvall quickly established himself as a force for his club. Fast forward to today, and all of his resilience and efforts are being recognized with a spot on the National League All Star Team.
Duvall has made himself a force to be reckoned with the MLB season, despite having less than 60 games worth of major league experience. Any young baseball player can look to his story for inspiration. After being overlooked by scouts for years, Duvall is finally getting his chance to shine. “Young baseball players need to have a great sense of mental toughness, more so than other athletes I believe.” Said Christman. “All players need to understand the grind, and understand that it might take more time than others to be seen by the right scout or the right club. Once the opportunity arises, players need to take full advantage.”
Adam Duvall will not only be competing in this week’s All Star Game, he will also be a participant in the Home Run Derby tonight. For any players interested in learning from Kevin Christman, he will be teaching an advanced catching class, and will be available for private lessons during the Fall and Winter months.
RoundTripper Academy prides themselves on being able to develop talent and work with any player, regardless of experience or skill level. Young players come through RoundTripper’s facility with dreams of playing in college, in the big leagues, or just playing on a varsity high school team. For all of those players who want to reach that next level, RoundTripper’s signature program, 5 Tool, is just what they are looking for.
Chris Estep, owner and master instructor at RoundTripper, started 5 Tool in 2001. His vision was to take all of the knowledge he amassed on his journey to playing professionally, and bring those lessons and experiences to the forefront of young baseball players. “I started this program to show young players just how much work is required if you want to be a great player. The grind can be difficult, but having that work ethic at a young age can yield benefits for years.” 5 Tool includes work on speed, agility, strength, and skill by position. On top of all supervised training sessions, 5 Tool participants make an agreement to lift weights on their own at least twice a week. “This program showed me and the other students the work that all great baseball players have to put in,” Said Austin Shirley, a former 5 Tool and Noblesville High School student, who will continue his baseball career next year at Depauw University. “I highly recommend 5 Tool to any player who wants to succeed. The instructors all know exactly how to make players reach their potential.” With how the landscape is changing in all of youth sports, this level of dedication is necessary.
RoundTripper’s eight month offseason program is evidence on how much youth sports have changed over the years. It was not long ago that baseball season was from April-August. Once that time period ended, players put their gloves and bats down, and then picked them up again when baseball season was upon them. Now, baseball is a year-round commitment that requires strenuous work every month of the year. For Jim Gallagher, the father of a 5 Tool and Park Tudor High School student, Tommy, this program was beneficial in so many ways for his son. “Chris and the coaches gave my son an amazing opportunity. Not many players get to have professional coaching for an entire offseason. I wanted him to take advantage of every opportunity he had to learn from those coaches.” Even in the winter months, RoundTripper’s indoor facility is packed with players who want to get better despite the frigid temperatures outside. Some might say that young athletes need time to step away from their sport, but for kids that absolutely love the game, an offseason program like 5 Tool is made just for them.
5 Tool runs from August-March, with admission to the program being contingent on a skill evaluation before the start date. For any additional information, check the RoundTripper website at roundtripper.com.
This past weekend, RoundTripper held their annual Summer Classic Tournament, where nine local teams across the Indy area congregated to compete and add another trophy to their collection. On a weekend that was picture-perfect for baseball, plenty of support packed the facility for a competitive tournament. Although close games were hard to come by, the championship game proved to be a lesson for both the Indiana Majestixx and the Indiana Nitro.
Zach Galyean, manager of the Indiana Nitro, realized the importance of this weekend for his team as their summer season started to come into full-swing. “We really needed a weekend like this to be honest,” said Galyean. “The kids really came together and started to play well as a team.” After losing a hard fought game to the Indiana Majestixx by the score of 8-7, the Nitro started to get their bats going, scoring in double digits in each one of their games leading up to the championship on Father’s Day. Although the Nitro’s pitching, defense, and composure stood out, Galyean and his coaching staff all agreed that their hitting was their biggest key to success.
With a rematch set with the Majestixx in the championship game, Galyean and his players wanted to jump on their opponents early, and they did just that. With the score reading 10-1 after two innings, spectators started to believe that a run rule was imminent. With their backs against the wall, the Majestixx made a pitching change, and in a blink of an eye, the tables started to turn. The Majestixx started slowly cutting into that lead slowly but surely, making timely hits each inning and exerting excellent pitching by multiple players. Even though the Majestixx never took the lead, they gave the Nitro everything they had. When it was all said and done, it was the Nitro who weathered the storm, winning a marathon of a game by a final score of 15-14.
For the casual observer watching that championship game, one could see the emotional roller-coaster that was experienced by all coaches, players, and supporters. Now we can sit here and throw out every cliché we can think of to describe the final innings, but it comes down to this: it’s part of baseball. One swing of the bat can change everything, a single pitch can give a team momentum, crucial errors can come back to haunt you. This is what makes baseball such an exciting game. Just when the result seems decided, the nature of the game is completely different. The Majestixx deserve all the credit in the world for that terrific comeback, but the Nitro were well-deserved winners. “I was impressed that the kids never gave up. It’s very tough to do that when the other team has all the momentum.” Said Galyean. With Zach coaching his younger brother, Tyler, and their father, Mark in attendance at every game, this weekend was a family event that coincided perfectly with Father’s Day.
RoundTripper sends our congratulations to the Nitro organization, and sends a humongous thank you to all Fathers who helped make this a successful weekend!
Article written by Joey Saunders
It was just a week ago that Ken Niles, a lead instructor at RoundTripper, came into our facility with a massive grin on his face and Boston Red Sox gear head-to-toe. After landing an associate scout job with the Red Sox organization, Ken was oozing with an excitement and child-like jubilance that could only be described as contagious. Although he may be known now as “The Red Sox Scout” around the facility, it was his hard work in his humble beginnings that have led him to this amazing opportunity.
In the city of San Antonio, Texas, there is a little-known private school with 2,300 students that has been a collegiate baseball powerhouse ever since the turn of the century. They have Trinity University, an NCAA Division III school, has been churning out professional baseball prospects thanks to their expert coaching staff, led by Tim Scanell. “Tim does everything 110%, and he does everything the right way,” Said Ken. “He will do everything in his power to get the best out of his players and coaching staff.” After starting out as a volunteer assistant, Ken quickly moved up to Associate Head Coach and Recruiting Coordinator for Trinity. During his short tenure in this position, Ken saw 12 of his players play professional baseball after their time at Trinity.
Even though Ken is now involved in the professional ranks of baseball, holding scout jobs with the Tampa Bay Rays, San Diego Padres, and now Boston Red Sox, he has not forgotten the experience he had under Tim Scanell at Trinity. “Tim helped show me the difference between pro prospects and non-pro prospects.” Said Ken. “Everything was about finding guys who wanted to win, but also knew the importance of winning with humility.” Now that Ken has landed his dream job with the Red Sox, he wants to give nothing short of his absolute best effort. “As a kid growing up in Boston, this job really was a childhood dream. It was such an awesome feeling dusting off my old Red Sox clothes that I have not been able to wear the past few years.”
RoundTripper prides itself in being in the business of making people’s dreams come true. While Coach Niles was never a student at the facility as a young baseball player, he is very much a part of the RoundTripper family. Coach Niles collegiate career led him to Division II Eckard College, and continued as a volunteer assistant at Division III Trinity University, working his way through small scouting jobs, and eventually landing his dream job with the Red Sox.
For all of our students who have big dreams of playing professional baseball, or just being a part of the baseball industry, take Ken’s story as an inspiration. Through hard work, dedication, and learning from the right people, he is now happy as can be with his new job. We wish Ken nothing but success as he embarks on this exciting journey!
The Trinity Tigers are playing for the 2016 Division III national championship! The game will be streaming live on Tuesday, May 31st. To watch the game, click here: http://www.ncaa.com/championship/liveplayer/player?gameId=2099259
To schedule a private lesson with Ken, click here: https://www.esoftplanner.com/v3/planner/login.php?access=0dG81LSVxNmo65axtmKBsZiJpA
This past weekend marked RoundTripper’s annual 13u Spring Classic. With ten local teams congregating at the RoundTripper facility to compete on the diamond, the competition level was high. However, after the two Friday night games, that competition was put on hold. While the forecast called for a light drizzle Friday night, the RoundTripper staff was eager to continue the weekend’s festivities early Saturday morning. However, that forecasted drizzle turned in to over an inch of rain, delaying the Saturday morning start. “When our staff showed up to the fields on Saturday morning, we couldn’t believe how much rain we got; I swear fish could have been jumping from the infield. The fields were completely under water,” said Chris Estep, RoundTripper Owner and Master Instructor. As the tournament director assessed the field conditions, the decision was made to push the entire tournament to Sunday. With the new schedule, select teams had to play as early as 8 A.M. One of these teams, who spent a total of 12 hours at the ball park, was The Baseball Recruiters.
Brian Moran, the Head Coach of the 13U Baseball Recruiters, knew that if his team wanted to experience any success on Sunday, they needed to be completely focused on their one goal. “We have never had to play that many games in one day,” said Moran. “I told them if we stay the course and keep level heads throughout the day, we could get a lot accomplished.” After sealing their first win of the tournament over the OYO Bombers with a walk-off ground ball in the final inning to take the game 5-4, the Baseball Recruiters took care of business in their second game as well, defeating the Broad Ripple Blue Hawks by a score of 13-5. After having a break midway through the day, Moran and his players understood what was ahead of them. With another lopsided victory in the semi-finals against the Indiana Monarchs, a game that had the final score at 15-6, the Baseball Recruiters were marching on to the championship game with full momentum, but it was not an easy task with the Indiana Majestixx standing in their way.
With his team playing four games in one day, Moran knew that pitching would be an obstacle. “We had players on the mound pitch huge innings for us. Some of them were not used to being tested like that in a crucial point of a tournament, but boy they came through.” With stellar pitching and a killer instinct to capitalize on their opponent’s mistakes, the Baseball Recruiters clinched the championship trophy with a six run victory, defeating the Majestixx by a score of 11-5. After their work for the day was done, Moran wanted his players to know how valuable of an experience this tournament was. “I told them I was so proud of how they kept their focus. It’s not easy for any team to have an entire day of competitive baseball games, and get wins in all of them.” The Baseball Recruiters left the diamond with smiling faces and perhaps sore bodies, but most importantly, they left with their confidence through the roof. “I knew we were a championship team,” said Moran. “We had a lull early in the season, but now our team knows what the expectations are going forward.”
When the annual 13u Spring Classic came to a close, it was apparent that, despite Mother Nature not being on our side, everybody at our facility experienced a great weekend of baseball. If there is one thing that we can learn from this weekend’s champions, it’s that with great focus and confidence, baseball teams can accomplish great things, no matter how tough the obstacles are in front of them.
RoundTripper would like to send a huge thank you to all coaches, umpires, fans, and players for making this past weekend enjoyable for all parties!
Article written by Joey Saunders
There is no doubt that baseball is a family game. Go to any ballpark in the country, and you will find families enjoying their time together in a relaxed sporting environment. Here at RoundTripper, we understand the importance of the family dynamic in the sport. We encourage parents to be invested in their child as they put in the hours to become a better ball player. No evidence better supports this theory then having second generation RoundTripper students. There are a handful of young athletes training with us that have all received tutelage from owner and master instructor, Chris Estep.
Kylan Stuck was a young pitcher from Carmel High School who had a raw skillset when he first started training with Estep in his junior year of high school. When he first stepped into the RoundTripper facility in the late ‘90s, he was broken in quickly on the coaching style of the instructors. “They were able to refine my skills and make me a more complete baseball player by focusing on the little things and the technical details of the sport.” After going through months of breaking old habits and developing new ones, Stuck immediately saw a difference on the field after his junior season. “It was so difficult for me to break my habit of pitching with only my arm versus using my core and lower body to drive my momentum towards homeplate. RoundTripper identified that weakness right away and once my technique improved, my pitching and command on the mound improved immensely.” It was not until his senior season that Stuck started to receive recruiting letters. He continued on to have a successful collegiate career as a pitcher.
Now that Kylan has moved on from his playing days, his sons are following in his footsteps. Hayden and Brody Stuck, ages seven and nine, have already begun receiving instruction here at RoundTripper. Even though Kylan has amassed a wealth of knowledge of the game, he has allowed our instructors to teach his own sons. “I believe that in order to maximize your child’s growth, coaching cannot come from just the parents.” Said Stuck. “Having professional instruction early on builds a solid foundation for my kids to compete competitively and provides them the confidence on the field which in turn allows them to enjoy the game even more.” Even though Kylan started training with Chris when he was a teenager, he still sees the same passion and knowledge of the game from Chris while he is teaching young kids. “Chris does a terrific job at encouraging kids and adjusting his styles depending to the age group he is working with. At the end of the day, kids go there to get better. When they start to see how much they are progressing, the excitement on their face is just contagious.”
Baseball and softball are activities that bring families together unlike any other. It is never easy for one person to accomplish a long term goal by themselves. At RoundTripper, we know how important it is to have the right supporting cast to help coach and encourage young kids get better at their craft. Our mission is not to produce the next baseball star. Our goal is to instill confidence into all of our students that with the proper work ethic and the right people around, there is no goal that is unreachable.
Article written by: Joey Saunders and Kylan Stuck
Since the summer travel season for both baseball and softball is just upon us, we at RoundTripper believe it is time to revisit some basic rules of etiquette for all of those who love the game, and wish to be a part of the action.
Here are the RoundTripper Top 10 Baseball Etiquette Rules to Remember this summer:
10) Learning how to hit, pitch, throw, and catch happens in the build-up process to the game. Be prepared. The hard work happens in the offseason.
9) Check the rulebook before each and every tournament you attend. Not every tournament is run by the same committee.
8) If you are an umpire and you are having a horrible week, call in sick. Do not allow your personal troubles to affect how you call the game.
7) Remember, the umpire is always right. They control the game, not you. Bad calls will happen! It’s how you handle them that makes you a winner.
6) If you are a fan and your team is winning, keep your mouth shut. Your excessive complaining just might cost your team the game.
5) When your son or daughter is up to bat, they need to focus. Your instruction from the stands does not help.
4) Take your complaints to the tournament director. That person is your friend. They may not be able to change the past, but learning new information can help them improve the future.
3) Baseball and softball are games of failure. Kids will make mistakes both on and off the field, and those who fail the least will be the most successful.
2) Success is measured in how you handle and respond to failure.
1) Remember, it’s just a game, and the game is supposed to be fun!
Article written by: Joey Saunders
Sunday marked another CrossFit competition at RoundTripper, once again provided by Project GLOC. With Saturday being all about individual competitions, Sunday featured competitions featuring groups of two. These dynamic duos showcased their fitness skills while also showing tremendous resilience and teamwork. With a huge crowed that doubled, or perhaps tripled Saturday’s attendance, our facility was jam packed with fitness enthusiasts.
These athletes competed a number of physically and mentally strenuous workouts, while also being encouraged to hit weight platforms in-order to set personal records. “I think the level of athleticism is greater today,” said Brenda Coleson, the founder of Project GLOC. “A lot of people set PRs today. Adrenaline can do some things for you that can really push you over the moon.” With so much energy being put into their competition, today’s competitors needed adrenaline just to stay in the workout. When the exhaustion and the mental fatigue started to set in, athletes relied on the crowd as well as their teammates to push through.
Sunday’s competition featured two divisions with six preliminary heats. The winner of each heat moved on to the finals. The scale division featured workouts that were slightly modified from the RX workouts. For Khloe Presnell and Lindsey Love, representing Indy South CrossFit, this was their first time being paired together for a competition like this. “We were kind of put together last minute because we were the last two to sign up!” said Love. Presnell has been doing CrossFit for only six months, while Love has been a CrossFit veteran for over two years now. Although they might not have known each other for too long, they agreed that preparation was their biggest key for success. “We practiced the workouts every day, and we even did all three in one day,” said Presnell. With a promising duo now in the works, Khloe and Lindsey have a whole lot to build on for the future.
For the RX workouts, the tougher of the two divisions, Eran Johnson and Kelsey Phillips represented two different Indianapolis CrossFit gyms on top of the podium. Despite attending different gyms, both ladies wanted to do competitions together. “We have been pushing each other for two and a half years now!” said Johnson. With team chemistry at their advantage, Johnson and Phillips knew that if they were competing on the same team, they had a good chance at winning. “I would much rather have someone suffering with me rather than me suffer by myself.” Said Phillips. With all of their preparation in place, both ladies agreed that sticking with a consistent pace pushed them to a first place finish. “Most teams die off too quickly with these things. We knew that we needed to establish a pace and get faster as we went along.” Despite the prize that comes with being winners, both Kelsey and Eran got the most pleasure out of doing this competition together.
With the weekend coming to a close, all parties can agree that despite the grueling hours of work and set-up, the weekend was a humongous success. Project GLOC gave a large group of passionate women an opportunity to compete, friends and family to give support, and casual observers to be inspired. So many lessons can be taken away from an event like this. I think everybody can be in agreement that sports and fitness can bring people together unlike any other activity. Once again, RoundTripper thanks Project GLOC for choosing our facility to host their event. We wish them nothing but success and good wishes as they continue to bring others together in a healthy and productive way.
Most baseball enthusiasts sulk at the sight of a cold, rainy day in late April. RoundTripper is of course filled with people who live and breathe the sport, but on this particular Saturday, we hosted a different group of sports enthusiasts. Project GLOC, (Gorgeous Ladies of CrossFit,) a passionate group of female CrossFit participants gathered to compete, push one another, and prove to themselves that they can compete with the best. “The great thing about CrossFit is that no matter what your fitness level is, we have coaches that will work with you to maximize your potential,” said Brenda Coleson, the founder of Project GLOC. “Being an elite athlete is not required.” The competition included three different divisions with six heats each. The winner of each heat moved on to the final round, where they were given a completely new workout to accomplish. Each athlete’s goal was to complete as much of the workout as they could in the allotted time.
For Kaylen Larsen, the mastermind behind making all of the workouts for the competition, her goal was to really make these athletes dig deep to finish each task. “The goal for this is not to benefit the athletes. The goal is to test them.” As the competition goes along and the fatigue factor sets in, the support system that each athlete has becomes vital. Whether it be friends, family, or workout partners, everybody needs that extra motivation to finish. “My favorite part of this is seeing somebody with a total look of suffer on their face, and to hear their family and friends tell them to keep moving, it gives them that extra push.” With a good portion of people doing a competition like this for their first time, support was in full force, and for the casual observer, it was beautiful to see.
For Katie Hornback, the winner of one of the three divisions, CrossFit gave her the opportunity to do what she loves to do: compete. “I just love competition because it’s what I have always done ever since I was young.” As a college volleyball player, she gave CrossFit a try in-order to get back into playing shape after an injury. Although she was unsure of the program at first, she later knew that CrossFit was just what she needed. “After I started seeing quick results, it became an addiction,” said Katie. After showing tremendous determination, fitness, and endurance, Katie was able to take her place on top of the podium in her first ever Project GLOC competition. Not too bad for a newbie!
As the competition came to a close, there were no bad attitudes, no long faces, no tears. The only thing that people could do was smile for themselves and for each other. For any athlete, the goal is to win. For this competition, the goal was to bring women together in an environment where they could push one another to excel. “I love how this event gives women an opportunity to compete and to join together,” Said Brenda Coleson.
RoundTripper wants to send our deepest thanks to Project GLOC for choosing our facility as host for such a great event. If you want to learn more about Project GLOC and what they offer, you can check their website, or check them out on Facebook and YouTube!
Article written by: Joseph Saunders
Former RoundTripper student and Indiana Mustang, Jeremy Hazelbaker, is getting a chance to prove himself this year with the St. Louis Cardinals! A Ball State alumnus, Hazelbaker was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 4th round of the 2009 Draft. Since then he bounced between Double-A and Triple-A teams for both the Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. After his release from the Dodgers in 2015, the Cardinals added him to their Double-A roster, where he thrived. He was promoted to the Triple-A team and continued his hot streak through the second half of the season, which earned him an invitation to St. Louis’s Major League camp in 2016.
There he continue his success, showing tremendous speed on the bases and power in the box. The departure of two of the Cardinals outfielders, in the off-season, helped open up room for Hazelbaker to earn playing time, and he earned a starting spot in center field.
Now Hazelbaker is not only starting for the St. Louis Cardinals, but leading the team in batting average in the young season. “It’s always great to see a former RoundTripper guy get a shot in big leagues. We know he’s put in his time and continues to work hard, we couldn’t be happier for him, and hope he continues his success,” RoundTripper owner Chris Estep said.
For more information on Hazelbaker’s path to the big leagues, check out his article in Baseball America: http://www.baseballamerica.com/minors/jeremy-hazelbaker-cardinals/#hHFOKSd46yVFuIK7.97
You can also follow him on Twitter at @jphbaker