“My biggest thing is to engage kids and provide opportunities, experiences, and access”
Step up to the plate at The Yardhouse, presented by B3 Better Sports Performance B.C. New owners Byron and Kim Wilson took possession of the facility back in February and are looking to bring the community together with all they have to offer.
“In the past, The Yardhouse has been just a baseball facility that most people just thought was for elite level baseball players,” said Byron. “We’re really looking at bringing programs and sports technology into the community to connect with communities throughout the world, the United States in particular.”
From Jacksonville, Florida, the Wilson family moved to the Lower Mainland in 2019. During their time there, they came to Kelowna to host a few sports camps, and fell in love with the city. A little while later, an opportunity came up to manage The Yardhouse. A few months after that, the opportunity came up to become the owners.
“My biggest thing is to engage kids and make sure they’re not getting hurt, and also providing opportunities, experiences, and access,” said Wilson. “A lot of parents here want that access for their kids, they want them to go to the next level but there’s not a lot of information on how to get there… and we end up being able to close that gap.”
Wilson is also bringing some advanced technology to the facility, some of the same advancements being used by big-name sporting brands and teams. Wilson also works for another company called Swift, who specializes in advanced sporting technology to improve and innovate how different sports are played and how to become a better athlete. Swift has worked with teams and companies like the Toronto Blue Jays, Nike, CCM, PBR Baseball, multiple hockey academies and more across North America.
Baseball players can sign up for training, camps, or to rent the cages. Wilson also has different sports assessments and performance programs for performance and injury prevention.
He also has a baseball assessment called DVS, which is a medically-backed arm care program to prevent injuries. Right now, The Yardhouse is the only DVS-certified facility in Canada. Wilson is looking to bring in some of the top baseball coaches in the region and use a few of his connections to help out at camps, including former MLBer Eric Owens, who played for five teams in nine seasons in the big leagues and was the hitting coach for the Blue Jays and Los Angeles Dodgers
Wilson wants to educate parents, families and kids in a new experience and involve them in multiple sports to become a better athlete, not just baseball. “Proper athletic development is a pillar to any success in any sport,” said Wilson. “Those pillars and foundation are things we work with on the athleticism side and cross over to other sports.”
On the football side of things, Wilson will have former Okanagan Sun Coach Jamie Boreham to help out. The facility has a 4,800 square foot space, which can be divided into four, 70-foot long retractable cages. They are looking at adding synthetic ice in a section for hockey training. It also includes a weight room.
One of the other focuses for Wilson is to make the transition easier for athletes that are going to the United States for post-secondary sporting opportunities, because of how different the landscape is between countries (and vice-versa for athletes at his Jacksonville facility coming to Canada).
“[Athletes] in Florida, Georgia, Texas, California, they’re playing their sports all year long and the kids here only get to play five months,” said Wilson. “It’s typically a very, very rude awakening. You’re dealing with a different mentality when you cross the border.” Many athletes have worked their way through the B3 program to the four major sports. One of the biggest names recently is New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, who started in the B3 program when he was seven years old. Wilson also said he wants to get more involved with Kelowna’s First Nations community.
The Yardhouse is also available for birthday parties. It is located at #2-360 Spedding Court in Kelowna. More information can be found at The Yardhouse’s website.
HOCKEY HIGH PERFORMANCE TESTING