Randy Wells is delivering a new pitch.
The Belleville native and former big league pitcher has opened his own baseball academy, where he and his staff are coaching and guiding local ballplayers.
After a professional career that included five seasons of pitching in Major League Baseball, from 2008-12, the former Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago Cubs right-hander was hired last July as the varsity baseball coach at Althoff High School. But he also wants to share his wisdom and mentor other aspiring ballplayers in the metro-east.
“After I retired, I knew that coaching and training was what I wanted to be in,” Wells said. “St. Louis has a couple really nice facilities, really good successful programs that kids thrive in. I kind of wanted to cater to the people who were tired of driving to St. Louis and were going over to the other side of the river. The space here was the key.”
The space he found provides for year-round instruction. Wells’ K3 Academy is literally housed at Kings Point Sports Club at 7645 Magna Drive in Belleville. General Manager Ken Hayden said two of the health club’s seven indoor tennis courts were converted to accommodate the baseball academy. The 136-by-125-foot space is complete with batting cages, portable pitching mounds and L screens atop an artificial surface.
“It gives us an opportunity to develop more business here,” Hayden said. “So we had the space to do that and change the demographics of our square footage out there to bring in baseball with Randy. With Randy coming in with this great idea with K3, it was just a great idea for both of us to develop a new business and develop the baseball side. It opens up more opportunities to work with bigger teams.”
“They have provided me with a space to have a full-sized infield and batting cages and actually grow and brand the name K3,” Wells said.
I want it to be a place for kids who get drafted or college kids who want to get better on the side. I want it to be like a club, like a fitness facility. You come in, talk baseball, get some swings in, throw if you need to and hit the gym. I want it to be a place for people to come to better their brand of baseball.
Randy Wells, former big league pitcher
K3 Academy provides all of the equipment. The academy provides private instruction and will host baseball camps each month. The training will include a baseball-specific strength and conditioning program. Wells said he also wants to cater to individual teams.
“These teams are getting serious now,” he said. “Select baseball is a pretty big thing around here and they’re always looking for space in the wintertime to have full practices and the space to take infield practice, and I think that’s going to be our draw.
“It will be a chance for kids not to just hit in a cage, but to get out to where it feels like they’re on an infield and practice fielding a ground ball. We’ll also have pitching instruction, hitting instruction and fielding instruction.”
Hayden said the baseball academy is a welcome addition that will complement Kings Point.
“It seemed like just a perfect joint partnership to work with, to take the space we have available and work with Randy and to develop that and bring something to this side of the area in the Belleville community,” he said.
Kings Point opened 1995. The baseball academy’s indoor playing field will also provide space for other sports, such as soccer, and other events.
“It opens other avenues to other multi-purpose uses,” Hayden said.
Wells said he wanted to develop an academy and not merely a venue for baseball practice. He wants to create a place for aspiring players to enhance their game.
“I don’t want it to just be someplace where parents bring their kids for a half hour or 45 minutes and they leave,” he said. “I want it to be a place for kids who get drafted or college kids who want to get better on the side. I want it to be like a club, like a fitness facility. You come in, talk baseball, get some swings in, throw if you need to and hit the gym. I want it to be a place for people to come to better their brand of baseball.”