By Janee Law
Huntington Station-based CGI Braves and CGI Baseball have merged with regional baseball powerhouse, the New Jersey-based Wolfpack, and rebranded as 495 Wolfpack Baseball.
Michael Tinney and his co-partner, former professional baseball player Rob Steinert, said they rebranded so that they could expand the youth baseball program past Long Island’s boundaries.
“The big tournaments are invite only, so CGI wouldn’t have been able to get in, but the Wolfpack now can,” Tinney, 34, of Smithtown, said. “We’ll be invited to camps with college coaches, and high school coaches in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maryland will know who we are.”
Tinney played baseball at Molloy College and graduated with a business management degree in 2005. He said he teamed up with Steinert when he met him after he graduated college.
CGI had previously operated for eight years. The rebranding officially went through Aug. 21, the same day as tryouts at Terry Farrell Park in Dix Hills.
Tinney said more than 120 athletes, ages 10-17, tried out for a spot with the pack. Six teams were created with 13 players each.
The pack officially moved into its new facility at Winner’s Edge Sports Training at 156 Railroad St. in Huntington Station on Wednesday. They will continue to play games at Terry Farrell Park on the weekends.
The facility spans 12,000 square feet and has a 24-foot high ceiling. It features four lesson tunnels, L-Screens, sock-nets, tees and a 120-by-55-foot Spinturf field.
The Wolfpack will be offering several programs, including private and individual baseball lessons for hitting, pitching, throwing, fielding and catching; private strength, speed and baseball specific dynamic core training workouts; team workouts; and clinics for fielding, hitting, pitching, throwing, speed and agility.
The 10-month program kicks off the fall season this Saturday. Starting November, athletes will train to prepare for the spring season, and then will jump into the summer season, which Tinney said is the business of the year.
The goal for the pack is to expand regionally and nationally, and to bring their name into the limelight for college coaches, Tinney said.
What makes Wolfpack stand out is the facility they’re offering to athletes, the knowledge, skill and experience Steinert brings, and the staff, Tinney said. With 14 coaches and six instructors, Tinney added that each instructor has their own specialty in which they train.
“I think that makes us unique,” he said. “For most teams, the coach does everything and that’s nice but to have guys who have a specific focus and work with the kids year round, the kids are going to get better.”
Tinney said watching players improve is the best part of his job.
“Results are important, especially now but if you’re not practicing to get better, it limits yourself so I like seeing the guys who couldn’t make the throw last year but now they can,” Tinney said. “It’s cool to see that. That’s when they’re really happy.”