SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Student athletes in Siouxland had a hard time finding an indoor training ground, especially during the cold and snowy winter months, but now they have a state-of-the-art facility right in their own backyard.
“The goal is to have a space in Siouxland where people can come in and be able to compete at a high level,” said Ben Oberle, the director of Turf Sports and Performance.
Oberle said the goal he set out for was achieved at the United Sports Academy, a new venue that’s constantly evolving into what’s being called a Siouxland sports mecca.
“Every time somebody comes in here, we’ve changed something in the last few months,” said Oberle.
Even though the new facility is in its infancy, they’re already home to indoor softball, baseball, soccer, volleyball, and basketball, along with new batting cages and a training gym. The building might also look familiar to some, as it once housed the massive Gateway computer operation.
“Parents come in from Gateway computers and they can remember, ‘This is where my desk was at.’ So when we ripped the second floor out and put the ceiling in, it’s been a cool transformation the building has had.”
What inspired Oberle, a former college athlete, to take the lead on such a large project?
“We went up to Sioux Falls and looked at the Performance Center from Avera and the Sanford Center that they have up there. About a year ago, we went and toured that and said, ‘Hey, what’s a great thing that we can bring to the Siouxland area to be able to have a space indoor that during the October, November, December January, February March, that people can train so they don’t have to travel to Sioux Falls, Omaha, Des Moines?'” said Oberle.
And speaking of Des Moines.
“I always say this kind of jokingly but also, I’m serious. I’m so tired of being beat by Des Moines schools that we want a place that they can come in and be able to train so we don’t get beat. I’m tired of being beat,” Oberle said.
Even though running the facility is a second career of sorts for Oberle, he said it’s a perfect combination of his skills.
“I ran nursing homes for 9 years before I did this,” Oberle said. “Sports were a passion of mine. When I first went to school, I was going to school to be a P.E. teacher. Then, I decided to go into the administrative side. So, this is a great outlet to have that sports side, and also that administrative side.”
It’s also an outlet for Siouxland athletes to make connection with others at opposing schools.
“Now that we have this space, it’s the United Sports Academy, we’re able to unite the Dakota Valleys, the Sergeant Bluffs, the Heelan’s, the North’s, the East’s, the West’s, we’re able to have a space where everybody can come to, and have that space where we can all get better as a community instead of having these small little places, where ‘Hey, we have access to this, and this one has access to this, ‘and it’s kind of just a great space where we can all get sports better here in Siouxland,” Oberle said.
From an economic standpoint, Oberle points out it benefits the community.
“And now the money in Siouxland, stays in Siouxland. They don’t have to go to Sioux Falls, they don’t have to go to Omaha. They’re staying here in Siouxland which is what we wanted it to be. It’s a great reutilization of the old Gateway building that it used to be.”
If you are interested in signing up for any of the sports at the United Sports Academy, you can visit their website. The batting cages are open to the general public.