By Rick Cawley

For the Review

Well folks, it’s finally here. With the opening of the “Elite Sports Factory” on 5050 Umbria, our community now has a first-class training facility to rival anything in the suburbs.

The birth parents of this impressively refurbished structure are the husband and wife team of Russell Mahrt and Megan Malloy Carr. From the very beginning, the couple, who have 3 children, saw a niche for such an enterprise in our deeply sports-minded population and envisioned their undertaking weaving itself into the fabric of our community. According to Mahrt, who grew up in neighboring Mt. Airy and often competed in youth sports on our playing fields, “I’ve spent a lot of time in Roxborough and knew that it had a strong sports culture. From day 1, we wanted to try our best to become part of the community.”

They offer a property with a convenient location (and yes, ample parking) that is second to none in providing our area with state-of-the-art training facility with the latest in technological advancements. The building is equipped to offer everything from high-level performance training to birthday parties and social events, and just about anything sports-related in between.

The guiding principle of the enterprise is that all of us can reach our full potential given the right training program and practice regimen. Mahrt expounds upon these principles and other related topics in a book he has authored titled “A Parent’s Guide To Youth Sports” available on Amazon books. The centerpiece of the Elite Sports Factory is the Elite Performance Training Center which strives to develop young athletes into top-flight performers.

The staff will utilize proven scientific training data in their methods as well as providing a fun learning atmosphere, with emphasis on the word “fun”. Specially designed full body training programs have been developed to “maximize a player’s ability in strength, speed, quickness, flexibility, coordination, and balance.

The 28,000 square-foot edifice contains a wide array of amenities that will cater to sports teams and organizations. Two full court hardwood floors with 12 baskets can accommodate basketball team practices, league play and tournament scheduling.

A high-tech “HitTrax” performance assessment computer, six batting cages, an all-turf practice area and first rate strength and conditioning training gym will assist baseball and softball players with exciting tools to reach their full potential. Director of Baseball Operations, Justin Hanley, who coaches the varsity at Penn Charter, is a baseball guru eager to share his vast fountain of knowledge to those under his charge.

Perhaps the grand-daddy of selling points is the offering of Philly’s first “Ninja Warrior” obstacle course like the one seen on TV. The course is laden with floor, wall, and hanging challenges along with cargo nets and foam safety padding for those 6 and over looking for a fun alternative to traditional exercise.

The Elite Sports Factory offers a variety of options for hosting birthday parties or social events within their venue for an unforgettable experience. However, in the current pandemic era, event hosting would be somewhat curtailed.

Opening a start-up business under the best of economic conditions can be a daunting task. Trying to do so under the Covid cloud can create some major stumbling blocks. The greatest challenge for Mahrt, Carr and staff will be to try to manage the influx of guests while trying to adhere to Covid crowd limitations. This will obviously mean reducing the group sizes of classes and activities for the time being.

Already, the plan for a “Grand Opening” had to be scrubbed in favor of introducing the community to the facility in a more “bits and pieces” approach over a period of weeks. The “soft opening” tour for parents and activities for kids will likely be spread out over the end of October and into November. Guests using the facility will be required to sign up for activities in advance to further manage numbers.

Once things get off the ground, Mahrt hopes that the Sports Factory will down the road be “a fun place for kids and popular with the community so that the expanded number of offerings and activities will help offset the impact caused by limitations imposed by COVID.”

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