RAYTOWN, Mo. — Isaiah Blackwell, 10, knows to live his dreams means he must sacrifice and work hard. Both of which he is doing every day at the Athletic Academy in Raytown.
“I breathe, eat, sleep baseball. My life revolves around baseball,” Blackwell said.
In September, Austin Blackwell, Isaiah’s father and coach, started to turn an old gymnastics facility into the Athletic Academy, a multi-purpose training space for young athletes to chase their dreams.
“It’s taken a lot of sleepless nights. It’s taken a lot of sweat. There’s blood out there somewhere. A lot of tears.” Austin said, “It’s taken a toll on the family, a toll on myself, but at the end of the day it’s worth it though. To be able to give something back to the kids is the reason why we do it.”
Taylor Blackwell, Austin’s wife, said she did not see him for more than a month as construction was underway. But she quickly saw how important this endeavor was to the community and their family.
“Austin and Isaiah are like the same person. They both love baseball. They live for it. I like that Isaiah has a place to come hang out with his dad.” Taylor said, “Isaiah has worked up there, he’s put in probably more work than I have, honestly.”
The Athletic Academy was also a solution to what Austin believes is a problem for many metro families: being priced out of youth baseball programs.
“We looked at other places. We just couldn’t afford $2,500 a season or $5,000 a season so we did our own thing.” Austin said, “There are so many athletes that can’t afford so much so why can’t we have a place they can afford?”
It’s a feeling Taylor was all too familiar with.
“I know that Isaiah couldn’t go out and play for one of these expensive clubs. So, to be able to do for other families what our family would need is awesome to me,” Taylor said.
Austin hopes the Athletic Academy will help inspire others to take the necessary steps to achieve what they want. But he is also cherishing every second he gets to spend with his son.
“I’m really blessed to be where I am at, to spend as much time with him and help him do what he wants to do,” Austin said.
His hard work is not going unnoticed.
“I’m proud of my dad for building this because he has to take care of a lot of things.” Isaiah said.
“He coaches seven teams, he still has this, and other teams come in here. It seems like he is doing 30 things at one time and mastering it all. I know how lucky I am to have this. There are kids out there that dream of having this to their selves. To work on baseball and I’m lucky and will cherish this because I am one of the kids that got to have.”
The Athletic Academy is located at 6420 Raytown Trafficway in Raytown, Missouri. You can schedule training times, rent space by contacting Austin at www.facebook.com/KansasCityAthleticAcademy/.
You can also call (816) 541-0000, or email at email@example.com.