Midcoast Athletics Center set to get into game

Facility mostly for basketball, but other sports, all-around training part of plan
By Mark Haskell | May 05, 2019
Photo by: Mark Haskell The Midcoast Athletics Center in Warren.

Warren — It may sound a bit strange, but this small Knox County town has begun, slowly but surely, to turn into one of the Midcoast’s premier athletic hubs.

While The Pitch — or, Penobscot Indoor Turf and Community Hub — has enjoyed success since its opening in 2014 on Route 90, another indoor sports facility is set to follow the same path and open its doors down the road in Warren in the coming months.

Jason and Cindy Sincyr of Warren, owners of T9 Sports, launched Midcoast Athletics in the fall and work has begun on transforming the building on 1767 Atlantic Highway (off Route 1) into the Midcoast Athletics Center.

The building, which has several bay doors, formerly housed a bevy of automotive-based businesses.

The signage in front of the building has a scrolling marquee advertising “Midcoast Athletics Center Coming Soon,” while the other five business still on the sign are either out of business or have since relocated.

Jason said they plan to repurpose the sign, taking down the nameplates of the former businesses “and put up new glass in that lightbox” for the Midcoast Athletics Center.

“We just have to figure out what designs we like and get it done,” he said.

Getting it done will be a theme for the Sincyrs over the next few months as they target a soft summer open for the facility.

The building already has a practice basketball court with five hoops.

“As of right now we have one court, which we like to refer to as the training court,” he said. “It’s designed as a place to train. There’s five hoops now. It’s not a full-sized court. It’s the right width [and] it’s a little bit short, but it’s designed to train.”

Off to the side of the training court is a small gym with free weights, medicine balls, ropes and barbells, among other forms of exercise equipment.

Jason said the facility being directly next to the practice courts was no accident.

“It’s easy to get kids to show up for basketball camp,” he said. “It’s hard to get them to do the other stuff. The plyos and the hurdles and the lifting weights. So we have it built into the court so we can make that a station. So when you’re running a clinic or a small camp, one of the stations is to go jump the hurdles or jump the box and do some fitness and strength stuff.”

“We’re just trying to give them the right tools early on.”

Jason, a 1994 graduate of Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft, who said basketball is his “passion,” noted that there is a wealth of talented youth players in the Midcoast who play Amateur Athletic Union and other club-oriented basketball. However, when local players go down south to compete, where there is more year-round instruction, the competition is “just better and this is something the area needs.”

There also will be a multi-use turf room set up with two batting cages, but the space can be used for other specialized activities such as corn hole, lawn bowling and bocci ball, among others.

Down the road, the Sincyrs plan to construct additional basketball courts outside, volleyball courts and potentially indoor golf simulators.

“It’s all going to happen,” he said. “It’s just a matter of does it all get done this year or not," Jason aid.

In addition to a second indoor basketball court, which will make them “a full-featured basketball facility.”

“What we want to do is to get kids in there at young ages, get them started learning the right way,” said Jason. “We’re going to run skills and drills every single week. Sometimes it’ll be very general for all, sometimes it’ll be broken down. This time it’s about big guys, this time it’s about shooting [or] point-guard training.”

Part of the Sincyrs' vision is to bring in Dr. Dish Pro Trainer machines for each hoop in the practice gym. The device rebounds balls and passes to predetermined spots on the court via an iPad. It also has access to more than 100 custom workouts and real-time video instructions.

"These machines allow kids to get up 300, 400, 500 shots in half an hour,” said Jason. “And not just throwing up shots, but with purpose.”

“Now this thing is tied to the phones. So there’s a leaderboard so every player in the region gets to compete and see how the others are doing. The kids get to compare themselves to their friends and that’s something they’re all going to like.”

Jason said, while The PITCH is just a stone’s throw down the road, they are not in competition as they offer largely different programs.

“We’re 85 percent basketball,” he said. “Just like the PITCH is 85-90 percent soccer (along with lacrosse, field hockey, etc). We’re doing the same thing. We’re about basketball, creating a club and getting these kids started at the youngest age to do it right. And to make sure it’s fun.”

The Sincyrs founded T9 sports in 2012, a business which builds and resurfaces basketball courts and makes putting greens and turf surfaces for various clientele.

However, the travel involved in a business that generates little revenue in state has forced the Sincyrs to transition. They do business throughout the East Coast and have built or resurfaced courts in select spots in Maine, such as the Maine Sports Arena in Saco and courts at Camp North Star in Poland.

“We’re not going to let that business go,” Jason said. “But we’re going to get to a point where we’re not the ones out on the roads as much.”

Now, the Sincyrs are building their own facility — in their own backyard, so to speak.

“To some extent, it’s always been a little bit of a dream,” Jason said. “It’s like you build them for somebody else and you fall in love with it and you’re like, ‘We need this.’ "

Sincyr said the upstairs will be primarily office space in the short term, but that may change down the road into “a conference room or birthday party room if somebody wanted to have a party here and have their own space.”

He said one of the offices could have a hardwood floor involved and be a future spot for mat classes like yoga or Pilates.

“That may be a ways off,” Jason said "But the thing about that is if we get that going, we’d schedule it for the same time the kids are here. So maybe mom or dad can do a class upstairs [while they wait].”

Jason said the lobby will have limited concessions, but also comfortable seating, televisions and tables and chairs, in addition to a “pop-a-shot” basketball machine.

Another component Jaon feels strongly about is a weekly game night.

“Music, junk food, having fun, no pressure from a coach on making the team and things like that," he said.

Tiered memberships will be available.

“Anybody can drop in and just pay for anything on the spot at regular price,” he said. “But there’s going to be a membership we keep very affordable. A monthly fee that’s cheap and that will entitle you to do the game nights for free and offers you a handful of other things. It’ll also offer you savings on all the other stuff.”

But, the emphasis will be on fun and self-betterment.

“We want kids to be able to come here to have fun,” he said. “But we want them to get something out of it more than just running around, throwing up the ball and getting out of the house," Jason said.

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