Making the cut

Madison baseball facility offers pro-level training to young athletes set on pursuing their passion.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Baseball is a year-round sport at GRB Academy on Madison’s far-east side, where inside the 14,000-square-foot training complex, a 13-year-old athlete named Nick hurls pitch after pitch toward a target 70 feet away. Overhead, banners of baseball players serve as motivation. “He’s a good baseball player,” comments Greg Reinhard, a former major league pitcher and owner of Greg Reinhard Baseball (GRB) Academy.

His business started five years ago and offers a mix of youth club sports and personal baseball and softball training to serious young athletes, from ages six to college. “At some point, kids outgrow what their parents can teach them,” Reinhard says. “Every employee here has a college or professional background in playing and coaching.”

The academy arms young athletes with the skills they need to compete at the high school level, and hopefully college after that. Fundamentals often appear minor but can have major impact. “We have kids who have been practicing for two months, but they’ve yet to throw a baseball or hit a ball that is thrown.”

The end goal is not to make it to the pros, which Reinhard describes as uber competitive, but to make it to the college level. The reason? Only 10% of people ever get out of Single A, he explains; about 80% in Triple A make it to the big leagues.

“We know college ball will change their lives. College baseball is a lot more team oriented. You create really good relationships. A lot of business and every day challenges become easier to handle after you’re done with sports,” Reinhard continues. “You learn how to adjust on the fly if something goes wrong or figure out a way to make it work. That’s why I think kids learn a lot and why college is so good for people.”

At GRB, the most talented young players train about 10 months out of the year, and the program has produced 45% of the state’s NCAA Division I baseball recruits and sent more than 100 scholarship players to colleges around the country. Unfortunately, UW–Madison is not in the mix because it eliminated its baseball program years ago — the only Big Ten school to do so.

“There will be 40 Division I baseball players from the state of Wisconsin this year that can’t play for their home university and have to play somewhere else,” Reinhard laments.

Meanwhile, he says there’s a method to getting kids into college baseball, and it’s often about whom you know and what brand of tournaments and style of baseball is played. “We’ve got that part down.”

Since opening in 2011, the team side of the business has grown, from an initial seven travel teams to 19. “I think travel/club sports will be big in the future because schools and colleges may not offer all the sports due to budget cuts,” Reinhard says. Individual training is also booking up. “It’s a good business.”

It’s also not cheap. Young athletes accepted onto a travel team must pay between $2,000 and $2,500. In return, they get year-round access to the training facility, an Under Armour uniform package, cleats, shoes, between 40 and 60 hours of small-group training, and a full summer of tournaments with a paid coach.

“We have tryouts, and we do cut,” he says, unlike many programs in the state. “We charge money to be here. Our model isn’t to accept everyone.” This year, only half of the 500 athletes hoping to land a spot on one of the travel teams succeeded.



Reinhard, a Marinette native, pitched for UW–Whitewater’s NCAA Division III national championship team in 2005 and was unanimously voted the Division III national “Pitcher of the Year.” He went on to the pros, spending two seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays and three with the Chicago Cubs until he was released in 2010.

“As my pro career was ending, I had this idea in my head and one day I was driving around Madison when I found this space. I called a business partner in Los Angeles, told him my idea and how much capital I thought it would take. We had the place rented in about a week and built out in 60 days. It was very quick.”

“We charge money to be here. Our model isn’t to accept everyone.” — Greg Reinhard, GRB Academy

The facility, which he runs together with business partner and friend Max Cordio, offers team competition as well as individual lessons with coaches who can help people of any age improve their performance on the field.

GRB Academy has six employees and makes the bulk of its revenue from training fees. Thus far, the business model has proven so successful that the company plans to expand into a larger space.

In 2017 it will also begin fielding women’s softball teams. “There’s an even bigger need for softball to be done right in Wisconsin than there is for baseball,” Reinhard notes. “There is no program in the state right now that consistently puts girls in college programs for softball and baseball.”

GRB Academy
4009 Felland Road #114
Madison, WI 53718
(608) 249-5044 |

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