The University of Nevada had a lot to do with Justin Martin making it to the professional level, so he's trying to help give young area baseball players the same chance.
Martin, who finished the 2001 season with the Pittsburgh Pirates Double A affiliate, the Altoona (Pa.) Curve, has begun operating the Northern Nevada Baseball Academy in the Carson Valley and Reno.
The academy, which began in November, is now providing instruction for 18 players ages 8-14 from the Carson, Carson Valley and Reno areas. The academy has a 3,500-square foot facility at the Rite of Passage gym in the Business Park off of Johnson Lane.
As long as Martin is playing professionally, he plans to run the academy every off season. He hopes to move into a facility as big as 7,000 square feet some day. Martin said it's also possible that instruction could be provided for high school players in the future.
Martin said he would like to develop winter and fall ball teams in the future as well.
In the academy, players receive 16 hours of instruction a week for 12 weeks. The cost is $240 a month.
The academy is run by Martin and Carson City's Scott Albin, who serves as the pitching instructor. Albin was a teammate of Martin's at Nevada and played for three years in the Montreal Expos organization.
Martin said all the aspects of baseball are covered. "If there's something to be taught in baseball, we'll teach it," he said.
The indoor facility also provides a needed place for Northern Nevada players to work on their game during the off season and receive individual instruction that can't be provided by youth baseball coaches during the season.
"They really don't have a lot of time to develop players," Martin said.
The goal of the progam is to develop players who can play in college and earn their college degrees, Martin said.
"It's been pretty successful so far," said Martin about how the academy has been going.
Bruce Ruana of Gardnerville and Mark Smith of Les Schwab in Gardnerville are among those who have donated equipment for the academy.
In addition, Martin said his wife, Jeanne, a Gardnerville native, has provided needed support. "She's definitely been a big help," he said.
Martin met his wife while he was at Nevada where he played from 1994 to 1999. While at Nevada he also played for the Carson Valley-based Nevada Yankees.
He and his wife had been living in Gardnerville for the past two years before moving to Reno.
Martin was drafted out of Nevada by the Pirates in the 16th round. He received a mid-season call-up to Altoona last year and had an outstanding season with the Double A club as a shortstop.
He hit .329 (53-for-161) in 63 games, had 16 stolen bases and only 21 strikeouts.