As a former professional baseball player, Chris Basak began his dream of building an indoor training facility with that sport in mind. But as he ran across others in different disciplines, he found there was a need for a more wide-ranging effort.
That is how the PreGame Sports Complex came to be on the east edge of Monticello, right next to Monticello Middle School. The 29,000-square-foot building is mostly a large, open area with half of it hosting inside turf. Along the edges there are four rooms that providing additional training opportunities.
The facility opened in July.
“It kind of started as baseball, but then we started seeing more and more opportunities we could provide in a facility, and it was a situation where we really wanted other community organizations and entrepreneurs to use the space, rent the space, and run their own programs,” said Basak, a University of Illinois baseball player who played professionally for several years, even briefly reaching the MLB level with the New York Yankees.
His wife Samantha is also a sports and training enthusiast, and hopes the benefit she and Chris have seen in their lives from group activities can be passed on to others.
“Both of us have been involved in athletics throughout our life and just had great experiences,” she said. “I think we both truly believe that it’s a good platform for life lessons: Camaraderie, hard work, dedication, so many different life attributes that come out of being on a team.”
PreGame offers camps, after-school activities and other activities, but the main idea is to rent the space to other groups who can train their athletes as they see fit.
The model is taking off. Kleen Movement Gymnastics holds its classes there, and optometrist Kelly Sanders is beginning to do vision screening, which can benefit youth in many ways including sports enhancement.
On board later this month will be Dre and Lindsay Brown, who will offer speed, agility and volleyball training. Dre was a running back the of U of I who earned the Fighting Illini spirit Award in 2020, and Lindsay helped lead Indiana Wesleyan University to a national volleyball championship in 2015.
“We’re really excited to be able to provide a space for them to really dig into their passion. To see their excitement is great,” said Chris Basak.
Although PreGame Sports is in its infancy, Samantha feels it is already meeting a main goal of providing activity for youth year-round.
“The most fulfilling for me is probably having parents tell me that their kids were really struggling during quarantine, and they were worried about them, and after they were able to come here and play again, their kids were much happier. That makes me feel good, because this time for kids is very difficult,” she said.
“I just enjoy watching kids be active. It was so fun watching them leave, completely sweaty, with a big smile on their face. They ran around and played. They had fun,” said Mrs. Basak, who was a basketball player through high school.
Chris notes that offerings will eventually run the gamut, from preschool to senior adults, and are not limited to those who consider themselves to be athletes.
“It’s not just restricted to kids, it’s not just restricted to athletes, it’s just for anybody we can create a program or activity for,” he stated.
One of the last remaining installations will be netting for the turf area, which will allow several groups to work out at the same time.
More information on PreGame Sports is available on their Facebook page or website, pregamesportscomplex.com.