By Deborah Brancic/Daily News correspondent
ASHLAND — Having three kids of varying ages and interests is difficult for a mother looking for something to keep them all occupied, but Jennifer Simpson of Ashland has found an answer.
“My son is doing private baseball lessons, and (my daughter) is doing the conditioning program in the fall for soccer,” she said.
Simpson enrolled her children at the Metro West Sportscenter in Ashland where her youngsters are getting everything from conditioning to sports-specific training.
Open since September 2011, the facility is headed by Joey Magnani, the director of programming and operations.
“My dream was always to open up a place of my own for the kids in my town. To let them go to a fun camp, a structured camp, a learning camp,” said Magnani, adding that he had run two similar places prior to this one. “That was always my goal, and I was lucky enough to do that with Chris Billings.” Billings, the business manager, and Magnani, are co-owners of the Sportscenter, along with a silent partner.
The facility has an indoor turf field, batting cages, a pitching machine, a mini basketball court, a weight room, a retail shop, a waiting lounge and a party room for birthdays. There are programs for everyone from 3-year-olds to adults, in a variety of sports including soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, wrestling, lacrosse and the list goes on.
One unique thing about the programs offered is students can sign up at any time. There are by-the-day options, as well as three month, six month and yearly memberships. The kids in the programs range from those who have been coming all summer, to those who have just started.
Sarah Simpson said she liked the sportcenter because, “You’re not hot because you’re indoors and the heat isn’t right on you. And kids work out, not like using weights and stuff, but they play a bunch of games, which gets their workout of the day in.”
Another program run within the sportscenter is Elite Athlete Training. Eric Dickson, former player for the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League, offers lessons in strength, agility and conditioning for people of all ages, from toddlers on up to adults, including college stars.
Magnani said they are currently working on building a toddler field in the front area of the sportscenter with a parent lounge next to the field to watch the kids as they are taking their lessons.
The Metro West Sportscenter is open during the year Monday to Friday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and extended hours upon request. It is closed on Sundays over the summer. They offer four tiers of memberships for a range of options including discounts and free lessons and free use of the batting cages. There are also day options and walk-ins are welcome. For more information, call 508-881-9300 or go to http://mwsportscenter.com/