Sports—only a game? That may be true for some people, but it's not a statement you're likely to hear at the Born 2 Run Sports Complex, a unique youth athletic facility that opened in southwestern Pennsylvania last April.
"We're an organization that takes the business of sports and athletic training very seriously, competitively and professionally," says James Hoy, Born 2 Run operations director. "We are aimed at high-end athletes who are looking to play at the next level…The place was designed so that when a 16-year-old athlete walks through the door, they think, 'I'm in heaven.'"
Born 2 Run sits on 112 rolling acres outside the small town of Mercer, Pa., approximately equidistant from Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Erie, Pa., and at the intersection of well-traveled Interstates 80 and 79. In the short time since the facility opened, student athletes from all over the United States and Canada have attended Born 2 Run's camps and league play in about a dozen different sports. Last summer—the complex's first in operation—was particularly busy, according to general manager Matt Barker.
"We held 20 different sessions of camps," Barker says. "That included boys' and girls' basketball camp, high-school team camps, volleyball camps, lacrosse camps, soccer, football…We averaged about 250 to 350 campers a week throughout the summer."
Fortunately, there was plenty of room for all of these student athletes in Born 2 Run's 25,000 square-foot dormitory, where there are bunks for 378 (in 10-person dormitory-style rooms) and an NFL-style locker for each guest.
But it's the playing facilities that are the centerpiece of the Born 2 Run complex. The flagship building is the 60,000-square-foot Dallas W. Hartmann Field House, which boasts four basketball courts, four volleyball courts, a wrestling room, a weight room, a 3,000-square-foot physical-therapy clinic and a licensed day-care facility with space for 96 children. Inline hockey is played in a separate 25,000-square-foot building. Outdoor play currently is limited to just one multipurpose field, but the plan is to open eight more by the end of 2005.
Inside the buildings, Born 2 Run affects a striking visual aesthetic. The indoor playing courts are patterned after urban playgrounds, with jet-black court surfaces, decorative chain-link fencing and lighting fixtures made to resemble street lights.