After professional baseball, Jason Berken gives back with Impact Sports Academy
DE PERE (WLUK) -- You won’t find more professional baseball instruction in Northeast Wisconsin.
Former big league pitcher Jason Berken walked away from the game last year, but not without a plan in mind.
“I was lucky enough to play for 11 years," said Berken. "I was able to pitch in the big leagues for four years so I think I was able to fulfill all those dreams, but having this in the works made it a lot easier.”
The West De Pere grad opened Impact Sports Academy this past September and already has around six-hundred 9 through 18 year olds come through his facility each week.
Before opening Impact Sports Academy he ran the Berken Baseball Camp the past ten years.
“I take a lot of pride being form Green Bay, Wisconsin and I think everybody that’s a part of this place does," said Berken. "We want this to be a destination. We want this to be something that kids can be proud of and I think ultimately our goal is to make this something that’s a lot bigger than what it is now.”
Berken's not the only full time ISA instructor with major league experience. Southern Door alum and former second round draft pick Erik Cordier joined on after he retired this past season.
The blueprint for Impact Sports Academy was in the works well before the two were done playing.
"We played together in 2014 and that's when our friendship really blossomed," said Berken. "When I told him what was going on, I said hey is this something you want to be a part of?"
“When we weren’t playing baseball we were talking about what we were going to do next at times," said Cordier. "We kind of hoped that this would be the case, something like this would come to fruition back at home.”
Berken and Cordier both knew they wanted to start something like Impact Sports Academy before they finished their playing careers. They wanted to give back to Northeastern Wisconsin and show kids that people from this area can make it to the big leagues.
“The biggest thing I think that allows kids to do is dream, to say you know what? It can be me," said Berken. "You see guys on TV from California, Florida, Texas, but you’ve got two guys from the area that were able to fulfill that dream so to me more than anything it just creates the mindset in these kids that I can be the next person to do it.”
“I was told a long time ago and I remember it as if it were yesterday. Right before I left high school, my last high school game as a matter of fact, Terry Jorgensen from Luxemburg-Casco said to me on the field, 'never forget where you came from,' said Cordier. "I’ve always wanted to come back to do this."
Berken said all of his instructors have either played in college or professionally.
Impact Sports Academy, located at 1800 Scheuring Road in De Pere, also offers girls softball instruction.