A typical Tuesday evening at the Harford Sports Performance Center will offer you a glimpse of local talent, from the novice level up to would-be collegiate athletes. That, according to one of the men who made the center happen, is what the 26,000-square-foot facility is there for.
"Now we just want to get the word out and let people know we're here," Richard Foard, who along with Harford County baseball mainstay Danny Taylor, owns and operates the facility, said from his office Tuesday evening. "Also, we want to promote not just the athletic end of it. We want the kids that come out of here to be well-rounded people. We want to be a good presence in their lives. Hopefully we can be, and we'll take it to the next level from there."
They do offer some fitness classes here, but it's not a fitness center.
"What we're primarily trying to do is offer a well-equipped facility where student-athletes can come and train during their off-seasons. We want athletes from elementary school right on up to people who are returning home from college to have a place to play and practice. [We] saw a need in this county for a place like this, and that's why we're here today," Foard said.
The facility, off Jarrettsville Road in the Forest Hill industrial complex, is equipped to handle a range of sports.
"There's a very strong baseball presence here, because of Danny Taylor, whose baseball expertise is just about unparalleled in this county," Foard said. "We have five indoor batting cages and two pitching tunnels that can be used for either baseball or softball. There's a turf field that can be set up to handle lacrosse, soccer and field hockey. Of course, there's a strong emphasis on lacrosse here as well, because of its popularity in this area."
The project got off the ground in summer of 2011, when Taylor and Foard, who owns the property the facility was built on, put their heads together and decided on creating a new sports training center. It was almost a year before work started.
"It was around May 2012 when we first started building," Foard said. "It was in the planning for a year before that. Trust me, there's an awful lot that goes into a project this big. We expanded from what was a small gym to this, a 26,000-square-foot center. We finished in late November, and we opened the doors on Dec. 1, 2012. We've been running ever since."
Foard, who has lived in Forest Hill and Jarrettsville all his life, and whose youngest son plays varsity lacrosse at John Carroll, was not originally signed on to be an operations manager, but his role changed as the project came to completion.
"Danny, the other part of this project, is the owner of the Harford Sports entity, and I was just the property owner to begin with," Foard said. "But, because of the complexity of all this, I stayed on as a partner on the field, so to speak. We put our strengths together. This was the first time I became more than a landlord. As I said, we saw a need in the county for a place like this, and I was happy to stay on."
The facility hosts sports leagues of many age levels, a few of which run almost year-round.
"We have the older guys, the over-40 lacrosse players, in here every Sunday night, and they love it," Foard said. "And, we have another adult league that started in the winter and ran straight through the summer."
Foard also said they are looking into pairing up with local recreational councils to provide their sports teams with a venue
"We're working with rec councils and partnering with them on teams that need facilities, so we can serve as an adjunct for their needs. And, we're starting a lacrosse program for 6- and 7-year-olds, a clinic, so they can learn the game. Lacrosse is an expensive game to learn if you're only playing with teams, because of the travel and equipment, so we'd like to offer a place where kids can learn it inexpensively."
In addition to Taylor, who has been playing and coaching and playing baseball locally for nearly 30 years, and who is available at the center for team and individual lessons, the facility has on its staff list CMW head baseball coach Joe Stetka and former John Carroll standout and the Orioles' 14th-round draft pick in 2011 K.J. Hockaday, among others.