Athletes welcomed to new facility that caters to helping kids find success through hard work.
Emma and Scott Jones envisioned opportunities beyond the sawdust and cold, empty feeling in the warehouse they purchased.
The first vision was obvious. A portion of the building, located on Cross Station Extension in Girard, would serve as home to KML Industrial Supply, the tool-and-die business that has been in their family since Emma’s father, Ken Ledbury, founded it in 1987.
The east side of the building, though, was more dream than vision.
The Joneses have watched from the sidelines — Scott as a coach, Emma as a fan with a lifelong appreciation for the sport — as sons Trevor, 16, Nathan, 14, and Andrew, 12, developed a passion for playing soccer, and they aren’t alone. That warehouse could be the doorway to a bright future for west Erie County athletes in different sports.
Now, their vision has arrived with 3:23 Athletics, a new training center inspired by Colossians 3:23, a Bible verse that reads, in part, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart.”
Any kid, Emma Jones said, can “work at something … and find success in that.”
“We have the heart for that small-town athlete,” she said, “the one that loves soccer, loves baseball, loves softball with their whole heart, but can’t train or play more than what a school season allows. It’s fun to see the kids come in here, and they’re excited. We know we’re not the biggest. We know we’re not the best. But we want to be the best at what we do.”
The 62-foot by 80-foot facility opened Oct. 28, when 300-plus people attended an open house to see a turf field, complete with soccer nets and batting cages, that hosts baseball, soccer and softball players and teams but can be used for sports ranging from archery to lacrosse. There also is a second-floor workout area, including a ping-pong table to help goalkeepers sharpen their hand-eye coordination, and a video room for players and coaches to evaluate training sessions.
“The response (has been) they love it. They love a place where they can go have fun and work on their skills,” Scott Jones said.
Those same kids and their families played a key role in making the Jones family’s vision come true. The work began in February, when they braved 30-degree temperatures to clean, insulate and construct a warehouse known around Girard as “the old saw mill” that previously housed old cars. Girard High School’s boys soccer team held painting parties to prepare the wall boards.
“We were really blessed that people believed in our vision,” Emma Jones said.
Turf time costs $50 per hour, she said, “because we want to make sports and training affordable … for our kids to become competitive. We want our kids to feel the pride of the win.”
The facility has attracted more than 100 soccer players, and some baseball and softball teams. The family wants to expand the turf field to accommodate more players in the future.
“Our athletes have a place to train to be the best they can be,” Emma Jones said.
Victor Fernandes can be reached at 870-1716 or by email. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/ETNfernandes.