- Courtney Jette
Not Running Home, Swinging for the Fences
April, 2020 Note: Since touching base with the owners again, and with the shutdown being extended, D-BAT Columbia Basin is having a tough go. If you have been considering a membership with them, please check it out. They are offering memberships during the shutdown, and that’s the form of income available to them. If you have ideas of how to keep this place at bat, and continue to be available to our community, please bring it to the plate and let us know!!
With this shutdown project, I’ve been discovering a lot of new businesses I didn’t really know about. Take this visit for example: I have driven past the little, sandwich board sign out on Hood Avenue a number of times and embarrassingly enough, I still didn’t know what D-BAT was; which is ironic for someone who spent most days of my life swinging a bat. D-BAT, like the majority of my visits, would have been open almost a year to date. For a facility (more like the most amazing softball and baseball indoor training cages ever) that is focused on sports in the spring season, this was going to be their first entire spring being open. Now D-BAT isn’t just for batting practice. They have bullpens and instructors for most of your spring sport needs,
including two golf simulators, to help you tweak your swing.
Bob and Tammy Benson, who are part owners and operate D-BAT Columbia Basin, are coaches who fell in love with softball while coaching their daughters. Not only can I tell they are the kind of no nonsense, yet fun coaches you want,
I left wishing I was still playing ball and could have these two yelling from the dugout.
After chatting with friends about how the Tri-Cities needed something like their spot,
“We knew there was a need for these kids. We kind of fell in love with the idea. So, we contacted the franchise and started, and it just snowballed from there.” “It took us two years from when we decided to open D-BAT to actually open.”
After making business plans, and finding a location, and staffing the facility with several other instructors, they finally opened last March and the community response was HUGE. I don’t even need to have been there to understand. This town has a large baseball and softball community and so when Tammy told me it was packed and swarming with teams that opening season, I had no doubt about it. I grew up in this town, and I can remember the cages and batting facilities we had… if you can too… scratch that out, I can’t even explain how different this place is.
It’s like the Olympics of batting cages. Having only been open a year, I don’t even need to ask if they’re concerned for this facility. It’s massive, and the equipment is top notch.
“My big concern is that when we do open people aren’t going to flock in.”
Typically, clinics and camps for ball are in the summer.
“If we have to have a limit on people, and we have ten people?” she holds up her hands. “I’m very nervous about that. We’ll follow the guidelines.”
If you’ve seen a clinic then you know a ten people limit would probably cover coaches and like 5 players.
No matter how clean, fancy, and awesome the facility is, it’s not just for committed athletes, it’s a great place for birthday parties, team building (office teams, any team) and even date nights!
“We have a couple that come in and hit slow pitch together as their date night.”
I can only hope that’s how I’ll spend my date nights in the near future. No matter how you see the label “franchise” you’re not going to feel it here. Tammy and Bob make this place enjoyable for everyone and they make it their own.
“I want them to feel this is their place,” Tammy says about the kids who frequent their location. “A positive place where anybody can come in and buy swings.”
It’s a place you can work hard and have a blast. I felt like I would have lived here when I was playing. I may still live there as soon as it opens back up. I can only hope that’s soon.
I’d hate to see the Tri-Cities lose something it has needed so badly and had only gotten a couple swings at it.
And like a determined batter in the box with two against you, Tammy and Bob are obviously not players who get struck out by a shutdown.
“We’ll make it.”
No doubt there. I can’t wait to tell everyone about this community staple. I’m just on the bleachers for this show, but my concern about the length they will have to stay closed builds everyday this inning gets drug out. As with most 1st year businesses, over a couple months of being closed can be crippling, if not completely devastating. Tammy’s concern goes above and beyond their place. It extends to the players, the families, and the community.
“I feel bad for all those kids; they're out so much time.”
Being such a great place for training, they see many players from school teams, and she thinks a lot about the kids, specifically the graduating seniors, that would come in to practice. “I’ve watched these kids work so hard all winter long and now they don’t get to go out and have their season.”
Maybe they were going to state, maybe something for their futures. It makes me sad for the athletes that were taking their sport past high school.
But, if they were in there, working hard, I guarantee they aren’t going to let this stop them. Athletes who want it are resilient. And I know they will be back through your doors as soon as they are allowed to be. You have my date night support, and I’m sure no one can forget your huge baseball training resort, or the inclusive, determined couple that run it. I’ll be in when you open back up to see if I still ‘got it’. And if you’re looking for a place where your kids and athletes can thrive and enjoy their practice, then look no further, because this place hits it home.
Since touching base with Tammy again, with the shutdown being extended, D-BAT is having a tough go. If you have been considering a membership with them, please check it out. They are offering memberships during the shutdown and that’s the form of income available to them. If you have ideas of how to keep this place at bat, and continue to be available to our community, please bring it to the plate and let us know!!
Tammy, Bob, thank you so much for giving us this facility and such a great place for people to come together.
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