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2022-07-16 01:19:51 By : Ms. Cherry Gu

LAKE HALLIE, Wis. (WEAU) -”It’s just a playground for athletes is what this place is,” laughs Chase Hoople, Valley Sports Academy general manager.

A 116,000 square foot playground, at that.

“We have soccer, we have baseball, we have softball, we have hockey, we’re going to introduce lacrosse into the area,” Hoople says.

VSA is the facility the Chippewa Falls-native knew would change the game for athletes in Western Wisconsin.

“People if they wanted high level training had to travel hours, people are going to the Cities, people are going to Madison, people are going to Green Bay, but nobody really had the opportunity to stick around here,” says Hoople.

Until now. The $10M building situated in Lake Hallie is brimming with talent; from the coaching staff to the kids.

“And that’s what we’re here for right? That’s what all our directors are here for,” says CJ Koehler, director of baseball. “Every sport we want to train and develop kids and we want to provide opportunities for kids that they didn’t have in the Chippewa Valley before.”

10-year-old TJ Styer says he already sees improvements in his game on the diamond.

“Then the rotation throws, it teaches you to have your glove out, pointing at your target then bring it in when you throw,” Styer demonstrates. “Pitching hitting, fielding, it’s all great.”

“Now on the hockey side of things we brought in Jack Skille as our director of hockey,” Hoople beams. “Jack played 14 years professional.”

Former Badger hockey player and NHL vet, Skille says coaching for VSA has been nothing short of a homecoming.

“I was super excited about coming back to Wisconsin, going back to my roots,” he laughs.

His players have access to a skating treadmill, specialty synthetic ice, and hand-eye coordination rapid shots.

“I expect effort, I expect these kids to want to compete, want to get better at hockey,” Skille starts. “That’s the only reason they should be in this program....that’s the same for our coaching staff.”

A mutual respect, Skille says he’s asking for, with a model to be encouraging, uplifting and to help the entirety of the sports community.

“I strongly believe that if you’re more passionate as a coach than the kids you’re coaching, it’s not going to be any fun.... so this has been very fun,” Skille says.

As for future Badger players in the works? Skille says the jury is still out. “I don’t know,” he laughs. “A couple maybe, that’s up to them though.”

A massive training facility dedicated to giving Chippewa Valley youth of all ages opportunities to improve in their chosen sport.

“If they’re willing to come in here and work hard, we’re willing to train them,” says Hoople.

VSA offers training programs from skills work, to weight training, to mental performance training, everything a young athlete could look for, and then some.

To meet the directors, browse upcoming camps, summer programs or leagues, visit VSA’s website here.

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