By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
The idea for Luke Darrah to launch his own baseball and softball training academy spawned from multiple angles.
As a coach, he had already established himself as a respected coach in Northeast Ohio, winning the 1991 state championship while coaching at Hoban.
As a player, he had earned the recognition as one of the elite pitchers in state from 1989-1998 while competing at the national level inside the Amateur Softball Association.
As a father, his son Mike had excelled as a high school (Rootstown) and college (West Liberty) player.
The result was that Darrah, who is currently the Kent Roosevelt High School softball coach, had been asked several times throughout his 45-year career to provide pitching lessons with young athletes because softball instructors in the area were difficult to find.
By the fall of 2008, the idea to open up his own instructional academy had taken shape and after a discussion with his son Mike about partnering in the venture, the father-son team introduced Darrah’s All-Star Academy in November 2008.
The academy, which will host open houses on Dec. 11 and Dec. 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., is located at 123 N. Prospect St. in Ravenna in the building that used to be the home of the Record-Courier newspaper’s press machine.
The academy has grown in popularity each year and currently is the home to approximately 200 baseball and softball players that get regular training, while upward of 10 full eams rent the facility for use or for team training from instructors.
Luke and Mike Darrah continue to be involved and instruct, while the academy’s staff has grown to include Trevor Pesicek and Cameron Miller. Pesicek joined the staff in 2016 and Miller in 2020.
Former instructors have included Rootstown High School baseball head coach Keith Waesch and former Waterloo High School baseball All-Portage County League standout Bo Cooksey.
All of the instructors have shared the same philosophy.
“We are a place where athletes can learn and grow,” Mike Darrah said. “The best thing about what we do is the way the kids gain self confidence and how they improve through the years. A lot of times our academy is the first place these young athletes receive individualized training or sport-specific training. A lot of times they just need someone to show them.”
The majority of the academy’s athletes are centralized to Portage County, but it is not unusual for players from outside of the county to find value in the training.
Nor is it unusual for players to stay involved with training year after year.
“The majority of our students are players that come for multiple years,” Mike Darrah said. “We get to see them improve every season. As the athletes get older, much of what they do is tracked and recorded. It is nice to compare results from season to season to see where they are improving. Self confidence is built, because they feel prepared and mentally ready to play the game. Getting an athlete to a personal goal or training them to be ready for the next level is what we really enjoy doing.”
To get them there, the Darrah’s and staff work to present players with a stress-free training environment.
“Our task is to improve the athletes on and off the field. We take pride in setting the example and teaching what has been taught to us,” Mike Darrah said.
For more information about Darrah’s All-Star Academy, visit www.darrahsallstaracademy.com or call 330-351-1939.