Andrew Hill, founder of Omri Training Facility in Chelsea, tosses balls to Nolan Forehand, a middle infielder at Lawson State Community College and Chelsea High School graduate, during an Aug. 4 hitting lesson.
From having only about 30 at bats in high school to now owning a baseball training facility, Andrew Hill has come a long way.
Hill began his business in December 2019 and opened theOmri Training Facilityin September 2020.
A former walk-on for the University of Montevallo baseball team, Hill went on to earn a scholarship and became a captain and a two-year starter in his time with the team.
Hill has had an interesting road to get him to where he is today, starting with playing defense on the varsity team at Pelham High School and walking on at the University of Montevallo.
I played shortstop [in high school], and thats all I would do, he said. They would DH [designated hitter] for me.
Looking back, Hill said he never hit because he didnt know what he was trying to do. Although his role was embarrassing in high school, he said, he wouldnt trade the experience because he wouldnt have had the chance to walk on at Montevallo, play for head coach Chandler Rose and have what he has today.
They want you to hit the ball hard, but no one explained to me how to do that. Thats the big difference when I got to college, he said. I started learning and understanding, and being around great people is when [my hitting] really took off.
Andrew Hill, founder of Omri Training Facility in Chelsea, pitches balls to Nolan Forehand, a middle infielder at Lawson State Community College and Chelsea High School graduate, during an Aug. 4 hitting lesson. Hill and his team have more than 100 kids come through their doors every week, ranging in age from 6 to college athletes.
Being surrounded by good guys and good coaches, Hill said, is when the transition in his baseball career began. He went from being a good player to being a great player.
He became a student of the game, began switch-hitting and didnt miss a day of hitting for four years.
I had a pretty good college career for someone who maybe shouldnt have been there in the first place. Having not learned a lot when I was actually playing set me up for what Im doing now, he said.
After his college career ended, Hill stayed away from baseball for an entire year, not even watching games on television.
It kind of hurt to have something taken away, and I didnt know how to cope with it, he said.
Hills uncle asked him to come to watch his fifth-grade cousin, Nolan, play, and Hill said he felt like he needed to go. Nolan then asked him if he would work with him because he wanted to play college ball just like his cousin had.
Hill began working with Nolan, who recently graduated; this year, he will be attending the University of South Alabama as a pitcher on the baseball team.
It went full circle: I thought I was helping him, but he was helping me, Hill said. That decision of him asking that question put me on the path Im on now.
He began working with a friend of Nolans, who like himself, hadnt hit much in high school. After two years, his team went on to be state champions, and he also ended up playing college baseball.
I realized I can help a lot of people who, like me, were looking for someone to help them, Hill said.
He soon had more clients in the Chelsea area. His day job wasnt going well. After he and his wife talked about him doing training as a full-time gig, he decided to go for it. He said she never doubted him, and it was the biggest decision they had made as a couple.
I heard someone talking about what is the value of happiness, he said, and I was chasing a lot of things that seemed great, trying to make more money, but what if I could do what I loved and be content?
Hill and Nolan discuss hitting techniques.
Nolan practices in a batting cage at Omri Training Facility, which features sliding nets that have capabilities to go from one to five cages at any given time.
Hill said he doesnt know how it happened, but his business began to grow, so much so that he needed his own space. He came across a building in Chelsea, checked it out and quickly knew that was the spot for him.
Soon, Hill went from working with a bunch of Chelsea kids to working with more than 70 kids from 10 different high schools, plus 15 to 20 college players or college commits. He said working with 85 guys on his own became overwhelming and he realized he needed more of a work-life balance.
It was then he asked his former teammate, Will Fulmer, to join him. Fulmer, who specializes in hitting, pitching and infield, came on board in January. He was a four-year starter at the University of Montevallo and selected by the New York Mets in the 2014 MLB Draft.
After his playing career, Fulmer became a national scout for Prospect Wire Baseball before moving on to work with the Miami Marlins in its youth baseball and softball departments, focusing on the development of youth programs, leagues and clinics in the south Florida area.
Hill recently added a third staff member, Trey Santos, who was also drafted into MLB in 2013 by the San Diego Padres. Santos will be working as a hitting and pitching instructor.
With the continued growth, Hill decided to more than double the facilitys size and expand Omris building off Old U.S. 280 in Chelsea. They also have sliding nets that have capabilities to go from one to five cages at any given time.
Hill and his team have more than 100 kids come through the Omri doors every week, ranging in age from 6 to college athletes.
Its been super humbling and crazy to see how much its grown, Hill said. [I was] a guy who didnt hit in high school and now I help kids understand how to hit. When you love something and want to be good at it, you have to put in the effort and make it happen.