Athletics in West Omaha have grown at such a rapid rate, indoor training space had become nearly impossible to find. Local entrepreneurs Mike Alessandro and Max Fearnow not only recognized the problem and decided to find space for an indoor facility in West Omaha, but they went a step further and invested in building a state-of-the-art facility from the ground up—and did it in less than five months.
A graduate of Westside High School, Max played baseball for Stanford University when they made an appearance at the College World Series in 2008. Following college, he developed his own training program for pitching and hitting, working with up to 150 kids at various facilities around town. One of those athletes was Mike’s son. Max had been thinking of starting his own training facility and asked Mike if he would be interested in investing. “Mike paused, thought about it for a minute, then said he’d be interested,” Max explained.
Mike’s interest in investing in the idea stemmed from his desire to be able to combine his passion for sports with business. And his career in technology leadership roles brought a skill set that complimented Max’s talent for coaching and operating a training facility. “We’re not just two guys who like sports,” Max said. “We have two different mind sets that work really well together.” Once they decided to partner in their new venture, things moved quickly. Max focused on the operational side of getting the business up and running with Mike providing strategic ideas on how to market the idea.
The initial intent was to find about 10,000 sq. ft. of space to rent, which quickly increased to 15,000 sq. ft. But after establishing a partnership with the Elkhorn Athletic Association, all of a sudden they had a larger number of sports and athletes they needed to be able to accommodate. “We needed even more space, so we decided to build it,” Mike said. The result was a 34,000 sq. ft. facility right in the heart of Elkhorn. Thanks to their financial partner, Union Bank & Trust, and general contractor Advance Design & Construction, Elkhorn Training Camp (ETC) broke ground on Labor Day of 2016 and was able to open its doors January 8th, 2017. And the response has been incredible.
In addition to their partnership with Elkhorn Athletic Association, Mike and Max have also partnered with Elkhorn Soccer Club to provide outdoor turf training space, and has a partnership with the Xplosive Edge, which has a dedicated weight room within Elkhorn Training Camp for conditioning classes. “Virtually every sports family in Elkhorn has a child who comes through this facility,” Max said. And it’s not just baseball, softball, and soccer players. Athletes of any age and gender are able to develop their sport through the classes and training offered at ETC.
In addition to its 26,000 sq. ft. lighted outdoor turf area, the indoor space features four quads, 70×70 each; 25-ft. high ceilings; four Iron Mike pitching machines; seven hitting tunnels; high grade netting; Hammer Strength weight equipment; and a state-of-the-art radar gun. The co-owners also invested in operations technology, and incorporated an app that allows members to schedule their own training time, or book time in a hitting cage. “We want everyone to have a phenomenal user experience,” Mike said.
That experience includes receiving training from some of the top instructors in athletics, such as former Creighton baseball player and area high school coach Peyton Lewis; former UNL baseball player Jeff Liese, and The Xplosive Edge owner Gibbie Duval, whose father was one of Tom Osborne’s assistant coaches. “We genuinely want to help kids improve in their sport, but it’s also about improving their self-confidence overall,” Max said.
Part of Max’s passion for helping kids train comes from his own experience as an athlete. When his Stanford baseball team made it to the CWS, Max didn’t get the opportunity to pitch in his hometown in front of friends and family, which he said had a profound effect on him. “That’s something I regret,” he said. “I always wish I would have trained more and worked a little harder. I understand now the value of going the extra mile, and I want to help other kids get there.”
Having a premier facility conveniently located in West Omaha, combined with top notch instructors is only part of the equation. Mike said he wants parents to know that their kids are going to be treated well, respected, and have the best experience possible. “We care about developing all aspects of the player,” Max said. That philosophy is shared by other organizations, including Elkhorn Soccer Club.
“Our partnership with Elkhorn Training Camp for the use of their outdoor turf field has allowed us to provide an amazing learning environment for our children, primarily in our 5U-8U program,” said Rob Herringer, Executive Director of ESC. “ETC properly reflects our mission of ‘Developing a Culture of Excellence’, and we are thrilled with the positive impact it has had on our players, coaches and families.”
As West Omaha continues to grow, Mike and Max want families to know that Elkhorn Training Camp is positioned to be the community’s partner in growing and developing all young athletes to perform their best, on and off the field.