Rian McCarthy, Ocean State Makos Tournament Director and UMass Dartmouth Baseball Coach, messaged me a few weeks back to check in. Rian had just started a new job at Longplex Family and Sports Center in Tiverton and asked me to stop by to see the facility. This past Sunday, I was able to take the drive out to Tiverton. It was a pretty painless drive – 95N from North Kingstown to 195E to 24S just after the Braga Bridge in Fall River. A few miles traveling on 24S and I exited at Fish Road, took a left and another left, passed the Tiverton Police Department and up the hill to 300 Industrial Way, home of Longplex Family and Sports Center.
I was able to find a parking spot fairly quickly in an otherwise packed parking lot. I donned my mask and headed to the front of the building, which had clearly marked instructions for entering and exiting the building. Safety signage informing visitors of facility policies were easy to read and posted right there in the entrance way. I walked into the facility, had my temperature taken, and the front desk staff assisted me with where the baseball practices were happening.
My first impression of Longplex, in the words of the incomparable Harry Carey, “Holy Cow!!!!” As I walked to the left of the front desk entrance, I observed a team practice infield drills. As I approached the netting, I noticed it was the Rhode Island Rays Baseball Club players and coaches working on some ground balls and situations. There was a metal bleacher on the other side of the protective netting, so I sat and watched practice for a bit. The space was incredible. The Rays had set up cones for bases and their coach was hitting ground balls from a typical home plate distance. On the far side of this designated area, another group of RI Rays players were working on base running skills with a coach and a catcher. The players were getting a ton of reps in and really utilizing the massive space for their practice.
Rian and one of the Ocean State Makos Baseball teams were practicing in yet another massive section of Longplex. I walked to the left of the Rays practice to find a large group of Makos players and coaches. At a break in the practice, I walked over and chatted with Makos Baseball Coach Ryan Westmoreland. “Westy” as he is called, spoke to me about how the Makos have been utilizing Longplex for practices, the tremendous opportunities for teams to practice indoors there, and the importance of his Makos players wearing the same jersey and making that commitment to practice. The entire roster of Ocean State Makos coaching staff include former professional baseball players, high level collegiate stars, and current High School and Collegiate Head Coaches and Assistants. I mentioned the matching Makos jerseys and Ryan was quick to agree, pointing out the professionalism aspect he and the other Makos coaches work to instill in all of their players every game, every practice, every tournament, every day.
After watching some batting practice, I decided to take a walking tour of the facility. I ran into a few RI Rays parents and Coach Jaime Luisi of Warwick Continental American Little League, whose son Ethan is an elite player for both Continental and the Rays. On the opposite section of where the Rays were practicing, there is a huge multi-sport area that was hosting basketball games and a volleyball tournament. Everyone in the building, from the players on the courts, the coaches on the sidelines, the referees, to the parents and fans were wearing masks or face coverings. All players were wearing masks and face coverings inside the baseball practice areas. Parents were mingling a bit but for the most part I saw a lot of social distancing in the stands. There is plenty of space at Longplex to social distance, so parents, players, and fans were most definitely obeying the rules of the facility.
I walked around the perimeter of the basketball courts and followed the facility all the way down to the indoor hockey rink. To be honest, it was a bit of hike, but I made it all the way to the end of the facility and then started back towards the exit. To my left and up the stairs was a fitness center. I saw signs for birthday rooms and a pro shop and a kitchen. I ran into Dave Lapham, who I interviewed along with his daughter Leah a few months back, and we chatted about baseball and Rhode Island. That was a cool encounter. After chatting with Dave, I took one last walk down past the Rays practice, over to where the Makos were practicing, and then back to the exit area. It goes without saying but I will say it anyway – Longplex is an awe inspiring indoor sports facility.
I had an incredible visit to Longplex. I would equate it to a country boy/girl visiting Times Square for the first time. It is a very clean, safe facility to visit and practice and play sports at. The high ceilings are amazing. The lighting is incredible. The amount of sports options with the indoor turf sections, basketball courts, indoor hockey rink, fitness center, and multi-sport courts would take days to calculate. Rhode Island baseball teams like the Rhode Island Rays Baseball Club and Ocean State Makos are getting an incredible baseball experience using the massive sections of indoor surfacing at Longplex. I was so impressed by the overall cleanliness, lighting, and sports options at Longplex and I would highly recommend contacting Rian McCarthy at Longplex for more information for your sports team. And check out their website, which features a really cool home page video of the facility!!!
Website – www.longplex.com