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Southeast Durango facility helping baseball, softball players stay sharp year-round

Choice Athletics launched operations back in May
Dennis Dempsie, who coached youth baseball in Bayfield for seven years, owns and oversees Choice Athletics in Southeast Durango. (Matt Hollinshead/Durango Herald)

Dennis Dempsie knows firsthand how not having a training facility specifically geared toward baseball and softball can hinder offseason training.

Having previously coached youth baseball in Bayfield for seven years, he understands it’s a year-round commitment – especially for those who are serious about pursuing those sports at the collegiate and professional level.

“You don’t take that time off. Even though you play other sports, you still need to dedicate your time to baseball year-round,” Dempsie said, adding he wanted to help create that mentality regarding baseball.

That prompted him to launch Choice Athletics in May to ensure the area’s baseball and softball talent have their own spot to get their hitting, pitching and fielding repetitions in. Aside from youth and travel teams, Dempsie said squads like Fort Lewis College softball and Durango High School baseball train at the nearly 5,000-square-foot facility, which includes three turf surfaces totaling about 2,700 square feet combined.

Here are two of the three batter’s boxes at Choice Athletics in Southeast Durango. (Matt Hollinshead/Durango Herald)

“Our system here will track different stats of hitting,” Dempsie said. “Not only can you record your six months of hitting just by film, but you also get your average exit velocity … The launch angle, how consistently (you’re) hitting a foul ball high in the air.”

In the weeks leading up to each new campaign, during the winter months, Dempsie said area athletes previously would have had to settle for either school facilities being open and clearing snow off fields to resume their training, or shovel their own driveways to clear the ground and put up their own throwing net. The winter months would prove to be especially challenging because athletes would have to take down equipment and make room in their garage, Dempsie said.

Not anymore.

Now the dedicated baseball and softball athletes have a space to refine their throwing mechanics or improve their bat speed at the plate.

“Baseball specifically, you definitely need repetition. When you’re trying to hit 65 to 70 mph consistently squaring it up, not just fouling it off, you need repetition. You need to come in and see that pitch,” he said. “If you stop doing it for three, four months, you’re a month behind already … You’re going to come into the season in early-season form. You’re not going to come in at midseason form. If you’re working year-round, even just, like, 30 minutes a week … You’re going to stay sharp … You’re never going to have a dip.”

Dennis Dempsie checks to make sure the pitching machine is working properly on Friday, Dec. 29, 2023, at Choice Athletics in Southeast Durango. The facility is designed for year-round baseball and softball training. (Matt Hollinshead/Durango Herald)

Choice Athletics also features simulator training for golfers to refine their long-drive swings.

The turf surfaces are also built to accommodate sports like lacrosse.

“Our whole turf area is adjustable,” Dempsie said.

Choice Athletics is located at 29444 U.S. Highway 160 east, Ste. A, near ABC Self Storage and Aloha Cars in southeast Durango.

mhollinshead@durangoherald.com



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