New sports facilities continue to open on South Island

The burgeoning trend of new sports training spaces coming on-stream on the South Island continues.

Speed Mechanics on Vanalman Drive and PISE’s expanded outdoor training area both opened this month.

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They follow the recent openings of the 5,000-square-foot indoor Victoria HarbourCats Players Club Training Center in the former Cook Street Squash Club for baseball and softball players and CPL pro soccer club Pacific FC’s $5.5-million, 55,000-square-foot indoor field house and training centre in Langford for soccer, football, volleyball, basketball and other sports.

The 5,000-square-foot Front Training Zone at PISE, located on the Camosun College Interurban campus, supplements the existing field and track areas in the back of the facility which are used by groups from youth soccer up to athletes training for the Olympics and Paralympics.

The PISE campus also includes a gym and labs. The PISE gym has received an $860,000 upgrade, completed this week, and which includes 1,000 new permanent seats for Camosun College Chargers basketball and volleyball teams and also with the 2024 Invictus Games bid in mind. The gym upgrade was funded by Camosun College, 94 Forward, the legacy fund from the 1994 Commonwealth Games, and an accessibility grant from the federal government.

“It’s an amazing transformation into a world-class dedicated performance gym,” said PISE CEO Robert Bettauer.

The $65,000 rubberized-surface outdoor front-zone project, meanwhile, is funded in part by Tire Stewardship B.C. and also the Government of Canada’s Enabling Accessibility Fund.

“We’ve had so much success with the south-end training areas [including field and track] at PISE, we thought why not do something at the front, too,” said Bettauer.

Bettauer added the new area increases the amount of accessible outdoor training space that can be used by all members of the community, PISE summer camps, the Centre for Exercise and Education labs at Camosun College and for the Olympic and Paralympic athletes training at PISE with the Canadian Sport Institute-Pacific. The front training area is surfaced with scrap tires recovered and diverted from the landfill and recycled.

“PISE took a hit and lost one-third of its revenues this year due to COVID, so we are very proud of having pulled off the gym upgrade and added the Front Training Zone during this time,” said the former Davis Cup player Bettauer, tennis analyst for Sportsnet, who coached Canada at the 1988 Seoul and 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

The previous major PISE installation was the $1-million running track encircling the soccer field and which opened in 2015. Bettauer said the next PISE project is the planned $1.2-million replacement of the soccer turf and addition of LED flood lights around the field.

The 5,000-square-foot Speed Mechanics facility in Saanich, meanwhile, has the goal of offering a multi-faceted approach to sports development. It is owned by Khyl Orser. He is assisted by former Victoria Seals pitcher Anthony Pluta, who was selected 97th overall by the Houston Astros in the third round of the 2000 MLB draft and signed.

“We have multiple athletes in our program, including elementary, middle school, high school, college, national team and professional athletes. We are the training centre for Judo B.C. and are in communications with other provincial and scholastic organizations,” said Pluta, the director of baseball and softball for Speed Mechanics.

“On top of customized training for youth athletes in our turfed area, we offer weekly and monthly educational seminars that are open to the public and the majority are free to attend,” added Pluta, the pitching coach for the Canadian women’s national baseball team.

“These seminars are led by experts in their fields. The free seminars are recorded and posted on our YouTube channel. We have hosted four to date and have many more planned.”

The first seminars have included naturopathic doctor M.J. Atkins speaking on nutrition and the body’s immune system and retired high school principal Bill Green, who developed the PACE program, that allows athletes to design their own school electives enabling more time for training or studying.

“We also have an intern program. The first program, with five in the cohort, is 16 weeks and includes weekly classroom sessions and mentorships to groom future strength and conditioning specialists in high-performance methodologies,” said Pluta, who has a master’s degree from UVic in neuro science.

cdheeensaw@timescolonist.com

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