Kids Can Catch Some Training at around the Horn
Byline: Matt Beardmore Medill News Service
Editor's note: Because of a production error, some information was missing from this story between Page 1 and the jump when it ran in some Neighbor editions Saturday. Therefore, the story is being reprinted in its entirety.
It's 8:30 on a brisk winter night in February, but with spring still weeks away, Around the Horn Family Sports Center in Schaumburg is bustling with activity.
Future major leaguers line up outside the batting cages waiting to take their hacks. Baseball coaches direct a group of young players on the art of the perfect swing, and three high school baseball pitchers get their arms conditioned for another season.
Months before major league baseball is in full swing, Around the Horn is in mid-season form: its busiest period runs from January through March.
"I do rain dances on the roof every night in April and May - because rain brings 'em in," joked Around the Horn co-owner Jeff Keenan.
To help expand its core business in the Schaumburg and Hoffman Estates area, Around the Horn has brought in former professional baseball players, including ex-major leaguer and current Rolling Meadows High School baseball coach Jim Lindemann, to teach clinics.
"When we opened up, there were basically three competitors," said Keenan, 39. "Now there are six that we are aware of." Keenan said Around the Horn has seen an influx of business from Palatine and Lake Park high schools during the first seven weeks of the year.
"The cages have been staying busier longer," he said. And, he knows something about staying busy.
In addition to his 40-hour full-time job at Cintas in Schaumburg, and his responsibilities at Around the Horn, Keenan still finds the time to coach his daughter Brittany's softball team and his son Blake's basketball team.
"Kids are young once, and you have one opportunity to be around them and coach them," Keenan said. "That's why my theory of 140- hour weeks doesn't phase me."
For the owners of Around the Horn, the millions of dollars sloshing around the major leagues aren't the motivation.
The business posted gross revenues of just $360,000 in 2004, and though it was a nice improvement, Keenan has no plans on quitting his full-time job. "This is not a business of get rich quick," Keenan said. "There's not a payback that's going to allow you to live in South Barrington. You'll never see a Humvee in the parking lot with 'Around the Horn' on it."
Instead, Keenan and Schaumburg resident Mark Alberson opened Around the Horn in November 2002 with dreams of building a training facility where kids could learn the basics and the finer points of the game. "These are mostly warehouse sports facilities," Keenan said. "We took the leap of faith and put ourselves in a retail outlet to try and create more visibility."
Vince Wrzos Jr. and his wife, Angie, who is beginning her first year as head softball coach at Harper College in Palatine, joined Around the Horn in the last summer. …