Shane Stidham and his sister-in-law, Lisa Shepherd-Stidham, were standing outside of the former stockcar garage they recently purchased early Wednesday afternoon.
Inside, walls were being painted and the floor, waiting to be laid out, was boxed up on pallets in the middle of the 6,000-square foot space.
By Oct. 1, the garage will have been transformed into S&S Elite Sports, an athletics training facility for local baseball, softball and basketball players.
Shane Stidham created the Indiana Astros travel baseball program in 2013, and he has since added softball to the mix. The Astros now consist of 17 teams in all — 10 baseball and seven softball.
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Shepherd-Stidham has been running the Dream Makers basketball program since 2008, running private workout sessions for numerous players in central Indiana and beyond.
The two of them, along with Aaron Stidham — Shane’s brother and Lisa’s husband — decided it would be a good idea to provide those organizations, and all athletes on the south side of Indianapolis, with a quality training facility.
It’s with that in mind that S&S Elite Sports makes its debut.
The building will feature a basketball court, indoor pitching and hitting tunnels and space for speed and agility training. It will serve as a home base for both the Astros and Dream Makers, as well as numerous other Johnson County athletes.
A spirit wear shop, Free Bird Designs, will sell gear up on the balcony overlooking the training space.
Aaron Stidham, a 1991 Greenwood graduate who played football at Indiana State, says that S&S was born out of a desire to give back to the community he and his brother grew up in.
“Sports has created a lot of opportunity for us,” he said. “Friendships, professional opportunities, networking opportunities. We wanted to create something that we could give that positive space to as many kids as possible, and that’s kind of the vision behind what we’ve created here.”
Both Aaron and his brother competed in sports at Greenwood, while Lisa Shepherd-Stidham was Indiana’s 1997 Miss Basketball as a senior at Richmond High School before going on to play at Penn State.
All three share a common vision for local athletes — to provide as many opportunities as possible while also maintaining a sense of perspective. According to Shane Stidham, his travel teams take at least one weekend off per month from the tournament grind.
When the teams do travel, he adds, the trips are more reasonable than some parents might be accustomed to. The Astros, still play against top-level competition, Shane noted, but “that doesn’t necessarily mean having to go to Florida three times a year or Alabama three times a year.”
In scaling back, Shane Stidham said, the aim is to keep a balance between playing against the best competition out there and allowing kids to be kids.
“They like to do other things,” Shane said of his players. “They’re good at baseball; they excel, obviously, at softball; but we encourage them to be well-rounded kids.”
Eventually, S&S hopes to add an outdoor diamond and basketball court to its 1.5-acre space. For now, the focus is on getting the inside ready for opening day.
“It’ll look a lot different in a week,” Shepherd-Stidham said with a smile.
S&S Elite Sports
What: Training facility for Indiana Astros travel baseball and softball teams, Dream Makers basketball
Where: 4723 Graham Rd., Whiteland