Baseball season may be over for high school kids but training continues. And at one Oklahoma facility, the owner’s lessons don’t stop on the diamond.
The sounds of baseball are distinct to most, but because of a hearing issue, Geoffrey Rottmayer had a different experience.
"I was born with hearing loss, so going outside, taking the ears off was just kind of a way for me to just enjoy life," Rottmayer said.
He enjoyed it so much he got professional attention – he was a 40th round pick of the Florida Marlins in the 2003 draft as a “draft-and-follow,” meaning the Marlins held his rights for the next year if he went to junior college – he did, to Seminole State, but there was another problem.
"I actually went to Seminole for my freshman year of college and I walked in there, didn't know how to read," he said.
He said it was a reading comprehension issue - and thanks to help from instructors he conquered it.
He didn’t sign with the Marlins, instead, he went on to Florida Gulf Coast, but while there he tore his labrum and his baseball career was over – it left him with questions.
"Everything I did the work for was to try to make it to the big leagues, and I didn't get there. So, it was always like, 'Why,'" Rottmayer said.
That question led to Athletic-Mission Baseball where he hopes to help other players avoid the same fate.
"What can I help the next generation with so they can maybe get where I didn't get to go," he said. "What we're trying to do is get these kids access to a facility that allows them to reach their potential."
Rottmayer takes players through an evaluation process and sets them on a course to, as he puts it, reach their vision.
It’s a long process, sometimes involving up to 5,000 movement repetitions without even a ball or bat.
"We focus on a process. So, ‘Hey, don't focus on the result. The results will be there. I promise. But focus on the process,’" he said.
The crown jewel is a three-dimensional tracking system that evaluates the efficiency of a player’s swing or throw.
"The 2D is on-the-surface. So we can look at the 2D and say, ‘Hey, we look good,’ but what's happening below the surface? How are we transferring that energy," Rottmayer said.
At first, it was difficult to get people to buy into a vision that was so different than baseball’s status quo, with information too complicated for most to truly understand.
"It was tough. It was a tough concept to get people to understand. It was one of those things, if you show them the data, they don't have a clue what it is," Rottmayer said.
But it’s worked, and still works. Athletic Mission was recently named one of the top 25 baseball academies in the country by Youth 1.
For all his passion, Rottmayer understands his calling is bigger than baseball, more than a coach to his players.
"Baseball, this is my platform to reach out to them," he said. "At the end of the day, I'm a partner in helping them reach their vision."