DYER | ABC Fastpitch Training Academy is not the first business to include "ABC" in its title.
But here it serves more as an acronym advisory than the familiar start of the alphabet.
"It means 'Always Be Careful' when choosing an instructor for your son or daughter," said Len Funk, the baseball and softball academy's head instructor. "If not, you can really mess a kid up."
And that doesn't just mean batting averages lower than room temperature and ERA's stuck on infinity.
"You have to keep up with the game; that means doing research and homework and going to coaching clinics to learn what's in and what's out," Funk said. "Like for softball pitchers; for the longest time they've been taught to drag their back foot in a front-toe forward position only to have too many of them develop knee problems. Since then, it's been determined that dragging the foot in a more sideways position can prevent those knee injuries, but not every coach or instructor (is) aware of that.
"That's why parents and players should be careful."
A former baseball player with pro aspirations, Funk has been coaching and instructing for 25 years. He formerly coached the Naperville Diamonds and Oak Park Windmills elite travel softball teams. He has recently returned to coach within the Crete Crush travel softball organization.
Last spring, Funk set up shop within the Dyer Indoor Soccer Arena with fellow instructors Alexis Funk — Funk's daughter who plays softball for Roosevelt University — and Dennis Maluchnik.
"We've been coaching together and giving clinics together for six or seven years," Maluchnik said. "He told me about this and asked me to come aboard."
Both Funk and Maluchnik are natives of the southeastern side and suburbs of Chicago, where they both played 16-inch softball.
"It's a great game," Funk said. "You don't see it too much around (Indiana), but they still play it out there."
The academy is equipped with batting cages, pitching stations, and it has an indoor field big enough for either team practices or even 7-on-7 baseball and softball games.
Funk says that his reputation as a coach and instructor has helped the academy attract clients.
"We take a more hands-on approach in teaching the game," he said. "We're not here to take your money then forget about you once you walk out the door.
Funk defines his coaching and instructing style as intense.
"I will yell at players if needed to get things right," he said. "We take the game serious around here, and so do most of the players and parents who come to us."