DYER | Noah Hanna has the build and athleticism of a sprouting football player.
"That's what I've been playing for most of my life," said the 16-year-old Whitney Young sophomore. "That was my main sport."
Then Noah's mother got into his head.
"She was concerned about concussions, so she wanted me to give another sport a try," Noah said. "So I tried baseball."
A Chicago resident, Noah had little experience in organized fast-pitch baseball. Nonetheless, he was able to make Whitney Young's freshman and sophomore teams. He credits the training he gets at All Aspects Baseball and Softball Academy for helping him secure roster spots.
"They've had a very positive impact," Noah said during a break from a Quicker-Faster-Stronger session, an athletic-enhancing and core-strengthening program offered at All Aspects. "(QFS) has made me more explosive, and the fundamental baseball training has been great in fixing my mechanics."
All Aspects is owned by Bryan Milburn, who's amid his third year as president of Crete Area Youth Baseball and Softball. Before getting involved in youth sports, Milburn was a serious adult softball player who often traveled to play in national tournaments with several topnotch teams from the area.
"But while I was playing softball, I didn't realize that I didn't allow enough time for me to teach my sons proper fundamentals, like the correct way to throw," Milburn said. "That's the case for a lot of kids whose parents don't have the time work with them."
Inspired to address the dilemma, Milburn founded All Aspects in 2007. In 2011, Milburn found a spacious home within the Dyer Indoor Soccer Arena, where the Academy is able to utilize a pair of 12,000-square-foot turfed fields, four batting cages and over 20 pitching areas.
"We even hold indoor softball games in here," said Milburn.
One of the initial focuses for All Aspects was to cater to ages 5-12.
"A lot of places work with the elite travel ball players, and we do, too," Milburn said, "but the recreational, town ball players also need to be taught the right way to play, and I believe they have been neglected.
"I know from being involved in youth leagues is that you need volunteer parents and coaches. You hate to turn 12 girls away because you can't find a coach for their team. And those who do step up and volunteer may need a little help in coaching and training their players."
Milburn has accumulated a staff that includes young coaches and former collegiate players, some of whom are still in the game within upper-division adult leagues. Coal City native Ted Bartnik recently came aboard after serving as the closer for Lewis University before pitching and playing middle infield for Illinois Valley CC.
"I wanted to get into coaching and teaching baseball," said the 25-year-old Bartnik, who moved to Crete when he saw the opportunity at All Aspects. "I like the philosophy they have here."
Of the training tools Bartnik and company use as part of its Strong Arm Program are Jaeger J-Bands.
"It has become a very popular and very effective," Bartnik said of the various resistance exercises with the elastic bands.
Another arm-and-shoulder strengthening training method that the academy provides is indoor long toss.
"We have the space in here where players can play long-toss catch," Milburn said. "That can help a lot of guys who play in adult baseball and softball leagues. Most of them don't do any throwing during the winter because there are few places they can throw at a distance, so it's not surprising that many of them end up with arm injuries."