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Local sports academy offers training for young athletes
backyard sports academy
Owners and team coaches Steve Soderstrom and Jacob Payne offer youth baseball leagues at their multi-use sports training facility, Backyard Sports Academy. - photo by Photo Contributed

Name: Backyard Sports Academy

Location: 6212 W. Main Street

Contact: (209) 669-8921

Hours of Operation: 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; Batting Cage open to members 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily; Weekends by appointment only

History of Business: With a focus on training local athletes, Turlock’s Backyard Sports Academy offers a wide variety of classes and services to help young all-stars reach their highest potential through the help of two former baseball players with a passion for the sport.

Co-owner Jacob Payne is the hitting and catching instructor at the Backyard Sports Academy, and helps coach their traveling baseball teams. Playing multiple sports throughout his younger years, especially baseball and soccer, Payne utilizes his expertise and years of training to help coach Turlock’s young athletes.

After years of being involved in sports, Payne says he wanted to give back to the young people of Turlock.

“We’re focused on giving back,” said Payne. “We have always enjoyed being active with sports, and figured, why keep it to ourselves? We should help pass it on to the young athletes in our community.”

Prior to partnering with Steve Soderstrom to open Backyard Sports Academy, Payne was a teacher for nine years at both the junior high and high school levels.

Born and raised in Turlock, Payne’s partner and co-owner Soderstrom is a pitching instructor at the academy while also teaching short-specific conditioning. Having pitched at the collegiate and professional level, Soderstrom uses his passion for baseball to help teach the game to local athletes.

After years of pitching for the Turlock Bulldogs, Soderstrom was drafted in the MLB draft by the New York Mets in the thirteenth round. Declining the offer, Soderstrom focused on furthering his education by attending Fresno State University where he continued playing baseball as the starting pitcher. Being the highest draft pick in Fresno State history, Soderstrom was again drafted in the MLB draft in the first round by the San Francisco Giants. After making his way through the Giant’s minor-league baseball system, he played for the Giants in 1996 and 1998, the Cincinnati Reds in 1999 and the Louisville Riverbats before retiring from professional baseball in 2000.

Following his move back to Turlock, Soderstrom opened Backyard Baseball and Softball , an indoor instruction facility for young athletes. After partnering with Payne in 2010, the two converted the baseball and softball facility into a multi-sport complex.

Now, as one of the valley’s premier multi-sport instructional facilities, Turlock’s Backyard Sports Academy helps train youth in baseball, basketball, soccer and volleyball.

Business Specialty: Sports trainings, group and individual classes for all age levels; camps and clinics; training facilities for rent; indoor batting cages; outdoor baseball field; indoor soccer and volleyball; traveling baseball teams; weight room; hosting various tournaments; youth leagues