Julio Henriquez was a youth baseball phenom growing up in nearby Chelsea. His skills were so advanced that he became a starting varsity player as an eighth grader. He played one more year of varsity baseball before he chose not to continue his career.
“Every day I regret that decision,” said Henriquez. “I’m not looking for excuses, but I didn’t have anybody driving me to continue playing the game.”
Henriquez tells that story of a dream unfulfilled to the many baseball players who train at The Dugout, his baseball facility located at 71 Linden St., Suite 202B. The Dugout is celebrating its first anniversary this month. Committed to helping players improve and grow as baseball players and student-athletes, the Dugout’s mission is: Act On Your Dream.
“We’re here to help players take their game to the next level,” said Henriquez. “It’s been a great first year. I feel I’ve grown as a businessman, a trainer, and a mentor. I’m inspired by what we’ve accomplished here, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings.”
Henriquez and his coaching staff offer individualized and group instruction to youth baseball players. They give hitting lessons in the batting cages, along with pitching, fielding, and catching clinics.
Henriquez has been a coach himself for 20 years. His oldest son, Jovan, played in the Malden Little League and for the Boston Astros before Julio founded the Angel Baseball Giants travel teams that have won two state championships. The teams compete in the annual Lou Tompkins Tournament of Champions.
Players from Lynn, other local communities, and as far away as Portsmouth (N.H.) have been traveling to the Dugout in preparation for the 2019 baseball season. In addition to the baseball skills clinics, there are also strength, agility, and conditioning sessions.
“I’m happy to say we’re getting a lot of Lynn’s high school baseball players training here,” said Henriquez. “They also love my Manimal Camp (for strength and conditioning).”
Jason Harper, a former independent league baseball player, is the pitching coach at the Dugout. Other coaches are Dustin Voss and Sharom Urdaneta.
Henriquez said the Dugout is expanding its instructional program to include softball. He is in the process of hiring a pitching coach.
The reviews from parents have been positive. Henriquez is optimistic about the increasing enrollment at the facility and proud of the players’ improvement in all facets of their game.
“The athletes tell me they love being in a baseball environment during the winter,” said Henriquez. “One player told me, ‘When I walk in to this space, it’s like it has its own heartbeat.’”
One of the well-known local athletes who works out at the Dugout is Ryan January of Swampscott, a player in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.