Inside Sports shields athletic practice from non-suitable weather

Tuesday, March 2, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:36 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

[Note: this story has been modified since its original posting to correct errors.]

Negative temperatures in the winter and heat waves in the summer can cause dedicated athletes to seek an indoor sports facility to train year-round.

Inside Sports provides just that, offering an indoor training and a practice facility that includes clinics and instructional opportunities with professional athletes. While the center emphasizes baseball and softball services, it also has instructors on hand for a variety of other sports.

“There’s nothing like it (in Columbia),” said former MU quarterback Corby Jones, who has been working as an instructor at Inside Sports for three weeks. “This is a place where it rains and you have real winters. (Baseball) is a year-round sport and in order to compete with kids from the South and the West Coast, you need something like this.”

Mark Camp, owner of Inside Sports, moved with his family to Columbia from San Diego a little more than two years ago and noticed there was no gym in which his son could practice baseball indoors. That’s when Camp realized there was potential to start this business.

“I decided to go ahead and do something I’d been wanting to do for a long time,” he said.

Camp worked in health care for 20 years, including one year in Boonville before the center opened in late August of 2003, but he had long been interested in opening a facility like Inside Sports.

“I didn’t want to start too big,” said Camp. “It just seemed like we needed to keep it simple and see what the market demands.”

From simple to success

The center now has 7,500 square feet, more than a dozen baseball and softball instructors, six netted tunnels for batting practice and pitching machines. Camp is looking into adding an outdoor practice area.

In addition to baseball and softball, Inside Sports provides opportunities for those who prefer golf, lacrosse and soccer, with at least one instructor for each sport.

Fifteen-minute to one-hour slots are available along with five-hour to 10-hour packages. Five-session to 10-session packages are also available with coaches or trainers.

“We really focus on that because good instruction is the key,” said Camp. “We are teaching players how to have fun and work hard at the same time.”

Though there are places to practice outdoors, Camp said he works closely with the leagues in town, including Little League and the Rock Bridge and Hickman high school baseball and softball teams. He said the players come in individually and with their teams.

“The kids that come in here, they’re working really hard and having a really good time,” said Camp. “I get fired up when I see that. I love it.”

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