It started as a young man’s dream several years ago. With the support of family and close friends, this dream has become a reality for Donnie Fillenbeg, a young man who grew up on a farm near Millet in Leduc County and attended school in Leduc.
Having played baseball since he was a child, now with a family of his own, Donnie dreamed of providing the community he grew up in, to be devoted to exclusively ball sports. Adding to this mix a unique concept, year-round indoor batting cages, a first in this city. The City of Leduc has offered outdoor batting cages at the Reservoir’s Fred Johns Park since the late ‘80s, but this facility is weather-proof, will be opened seven days a week, and has the baseball community abuzz!
Evolution Sporting Goods and Indoor Batting Cages is an exciting new venture in this city. Privately owned, it’s located on Leduc’s 50th street near Boston Pizza and the Husky gas station. Donnie Fillenberg has invested years in research for the best and most popular brand names in ball sports, and will be offering high quality items and soon, a well-known price-friendly line in baseball, of course, football, hockey, soccer, ringette and lacrosse. The store also offers a skate-sharpening service.
Donnie Fillenberg enlisted a strong and visionary group of owners to share the planning, set up and responsibilities of this new store and sports venue: his wife Tracy Steckly, his parents Greg and Tonya Fillenberg and friends Chad and Rayla Elgert and Ron and Jennifer Hinse. It’s obvious that each of these partners share Donnie’s vision and enthusiasm.
In partnership with Leduc’s Giants Baseball organization, the Indoor Batting Cages will cater to novices, experienced ball players wanting to refine their game, and of course, to coaches and players desiring to assess their batting skills. Two large screens show virtual baseball field options and display the speed at which the player has hit the ball. This HitTrax system, purchased in Boston, is a first in Western Canada.
In this spacious store, there are several signs and ball players art that were created by local ‘artiste’ Cheryl Lackie, whose son Ethan, a hockey player, looks forward to trying baseball this summer.
On Saturday, April 24, Evolutions Sports officially opened to the public, with Leduc Mayor Greg Krishke and several councillors in attendance to show their enthusiastic support. Councillors Bob Young and Glen Finstad both have had many years of personal and family involvement in Leduc’s baseball community, sharing that they have a good feeling about the future popularity of the Indoor Batting Cages.
On this first business day, two dads were looking at all the brand name equipment and sharing the excitement with two small children: Jason Huxley of Leduc and Jason McDonald of Grande-Cache are players for the Kosmos- sponsored Buzz team. Jason McDonald was thrilled to try the new HitTrax batting cage, while Aurora and Etthen were cheering their daddy on.
Outside the building, the Giants hosted a fundraising BBQ, serving delicious hamburgers, hot dogs and popcorn. Spencer Burchnall, a Grade 10 student at Beaumont’s Composite High School, is a member of Leduc’s Giants organisation and an AA player who has been a ball player since he was in Grade One. On this day, Spencer was cheerfully sharing his BBQ duties.
The unanimous opinion is that with the City of Leduc and the region being very active in ball sports, this new store and the Indoor Batting Cages will be a great option for those involved in the sport who choose to shop and refine their swing locally. We agree!