AS TOLD BY RYAN STINAR : FOUNDER AND HEAD OF PLAYER DEVELOPMENT
Well, this is a long story, and I don't think I can type everything that went into it, but I will do my best. My family moved to the farm, when I was in the 3rd grade. It was an abandoned century old dairy farm that needed a lot of work to become habitable for a large family. The house had lay vacant for awhile, so we had to do a lot of work both inside and out to create a safe place for our family to live. Growing up on the farm taught us hard work, how to be creative, work together, and how to do more with less. We raised goats, chickens, pigs, and rabbits. We learned to care for things other than ourselves, and to use what we had to get where we wanted to go. We often sold goats or raised and sold pigs to pay for our expensive travel team fees There were times we had what we needed and times we went without.
I was 11 years old when parents decided to level out some land behind our old barn, and build a baseball field. My dad was a former D1 pitcher who played and coached all through my youth. It was a crazy idea, but they did it, and it was awesome. For about 5-6 years, the ball field got used by my brothers and I. Our dad would hit fungos, and throw us bp until it got dark out. My mom would rake and mow the field. We even had some team practices there. Once I got to high school, my parents both were working full time, we were struggling to take care of the bills, and the upkeep of our farm. We let the ball field grow over, got rid of almost all of our livestock, and were just skating by financially as a family. Raising four boys, who were all playing 3 sports definitely isn't an easy task. But my parents somehow would always make it work.
My entire life, I was a three sport athlete. Quarterback of my football team, shooting forward on the basketball court, and I played everywhere on the baseball field. I attribute a lot of my success on the pitching mound, (and in the realm of coaching), to my background as an athlete. I wanted to be the best at everything I did on the field. Playing football and basketball taught me stuff that I would have never learned if I only focused on baseball. I had to beat people out for the starting quarterback job, I had to run my ass off and play tough D to get on the basketball court. I was never the biggest, strongest or fastest kid, all I had was my work ethic & athleticism. I took hits, got my bell rung, got my ass chewed out, played through pain / injury, watched film, lost, won, and much much more. It made me the athlete I am today, and helped me stand out to get recruited to play D1 baseball at The University at Albany on a large scholarship.
At Albany, I majored in Documentary Studies, which is basically a program for people aspiring to work in media / content creation. Creating media had been my hobby outside of sports for the longest time. I made videos all throughout high school, and I am a huge fan of music and art.
There’s a lot I can say about my college experience, that I will save for another time. But let's fast forward to my senior year. I was having a great season, and garnishing a lot of draft attention. I started off with a 5-0 record, a sub 1 ERA, and my fastball was sitting in the low 90s. Halfway through the year, I sprained my ankle very badly. After that, I started to pitch through my injury, only to see my velocity decline, and a pain in my right hip start to develop. I quickly realized I needed to stick it out until the MLB draft which was in a few weeks. I had 5 or 6 pre draft workouts lined up, and was actively talking to scouts. At this point I was basically limping on and off the mound, and being in a ton of pain before and after my starts. My velocity was down, and I started to lose my command. Then soon enough we had reached the conference tournament, and I was starting game 2. I went out there and started the game sitting 90, feeling pretty good. Two pitches later, in the first at bat, I ripped off a slider and felt a “fart” in my elbow. The ball flew over the batter, and I had some weird sensation in my arm. I proceeded to walk that guy, and noticed my velo had dipped to 82-83. I had so much adrenaline going, that I didn't feel much at the time. I finished the inning throwing only fastballs and changeups. I got through the next inning as well, but my arm was killing me at this point, and I knew something was wrong. After that inning, I told my coach to get someone hot because I had injured my elbow. Sitting in the dugout, I knew I had blown my ucl, and my arm was literally on fire. It was one of the worst feelings I’d ever felt. My draft hopes were thrown out the window, my arm and hip were in immense pain, and I was over 6 hours away from home. I got back to school, packed all my stuff and went home to Maryland. Two weeks later, I had to go back to Albany to get the rest of my stuff, and on the way home, the draft was in the later rounds. I remember driving home with my dad, not hearing my name get called, and seeing kids I had dominated early in the year get drafted. This was the lowest point for me, as I was feeling cheated, broken, and pretty upset about my current situation. All the work I had put in to get healthy coming off of my injury the previous year; to having success, to pitching through injury for my coaches, to being so close to my goal, and having it ripped away from me sucked pretty bad.
I got home to Maryland, and it was confirmed that I had torn my UCL and shredded my hip labrum. I went under the knife again, and had Tommy John that summer to repair my elbow. Then 3 months later, after I was physically capable of crutching around, I had my first hip operation. All the while I was rehabbing, I was working at a physical therapy office in town (Bel Air, Maryland). After my surgeries, I couldn't really drive anywhere to work out. My youngest brother Jack couldn't drive either. So we started to clear some space in our old barn to work out just me and him. We built a squat rack for 20$ out of wood, concrete, and home depot buckets. I saved up and bought a cheap set of weights off Craigslist for like 70$. The more I worked for this PT / Chiro office, the more I put my earnings into acquiring equipment off Craigslist. After a few months we had put together a nice little area for ourselves to work out in the barn. I stopped working for the PT place, and got a new job running a throwing program at a local baseball training facility. I started working at this place, still on crutches from my hip surgery. It was my first baseball job ever, and I was excited. I took the lead on running the throwing program, writing all the plans, and basically quarterbacking the whole thing. It was hard work, but a lot of fun because I got to work with kids of all ages teaching something I was passionate about. After a few months at this training facility, I had ran a successful throwing program, built them a brand new website, shot and produced multiple promo videos, and developed original content for their brand. My social media work had got me some attention from Driveline Baseball, the biggest baseball training name in the world. I had been a huge fan / admirer of Driveline for years now, and was well versed with their program, story, and employees. They hired me as a paid intern to work in their content development team. I took the job, and went out to Seattle to work, train, & rehab my arm. Everything was going great out at Driveline, until my hip started acting up again. I had progressed with my throwing program, and my arm was feeling great, but my hip was still killing me. I needed to come home to see my doctor. So after about a month and a half out in at Driveline, I came back home to get an MRI of my hip. At this point of time, my parents were getting ready to sell the farm. Money was still very tight, my parents were working 60 hours per week, and it was just Jack and I at home. So once I got back, Jack and I said screw that, and put all of our effort into building our barn into something legitimate, so we could start to train kids at home. This would allow us to train as much as we wanted, and also work / make money from the farm.
We worked tirelessly for a week straight, cleaning, painting, building, and organizing our barn into a weight room. Our Dad helped us a ton with building things and getting stuff to fit in the right places. It was hard work, and we were both dealing with injuries at the time. I was limping around on my bum hip, and Jack had just had major shoulder surgery on his non throwing shoulder. By the end of that week, we were gassed, but we had built The Velo Farm! After that, we got 2 or 3 original clients, looking for throwing instruction. We started training them, and by our social media presence, we were able to get a few more kids for the fall. After a few months, we had second thoughts about selling the farm, and took it off the market. We then made some serious upgrades to our facility pretty quickly. This whole time, we had no outside funding, no investors, no loans, no help besides ourselves. All the money we initially made (which wasn't much) we put right back into building the farm. We acquired a bunch of free turf from my high school football field. We bought a cheap tattered batting cage for 300$ off craigslist. We built a massive plyo wall from scratch. We hauled clay from a mineral depot in our old beat up 1994 F250 and built a pitching mound. We slapped some horse stall mat strips on our backstop and painted it green.
We bootstrapped The Velo Farm into existence with nothing but our bare hands. Once it got cold out, we had no source of heat that was cost effective for us. So we built a barrel stove, and started heating our barn with logs we gathered from our woods! By that time, we had developed our first trainees into the best players in the state. My marketing plan was working. My plan was, “Lets just make these kids good at baseball, and people will come.” My kids were doing work. We had the Top 2 players in the MIAA (A) high school conference, and developed a low 90’s University of Maryland commit. We also had developed a handful of other pitchers and got them recruited to smaller schools in the state of Maryland. The whole time this was going on, I was running our social media accounts, and posting the progress of our kids, as well as the process of building the farm. Anybody who has been following us for long enough, got to see in real time, how far we have come up, and all the work we’ve done to build this place. It's really crazy honestly to look back and see what we started with, and where we're at now today. I could have made this 100x longer, because there is SO much more to our story than what I’ve written so far. Who knows, I may write a book one day, or make a documentary about how The Velo Farm was born!
Flashforward to August 2019. Only 2 years later, we are now the most followed training facility in the state of Maryland. We’ve sent 14 kids to colleges all across the US. We've developed 17 90mph throwers. We've amassed over 17,000 followers on Instagram. We have trained close almost 100 different athletes from all ages, professional, college, high school, and youth. We’ve had kids drive here from all over the country to live in town, and train with us during the summers. We’ve upgraded our farm, and made it the most unique, original, and authentic training facility in the country. I haven't even had a second to look back. I didn’t really spend time thinking about doing this, I've just been doing it. This has all been my first try at this. It has been stressful, crazy, and hell at times; but I wouldn't trade it for a thing. The idea of building the farm kept me going throughout all of my rehab. If I didn't tear my UCL and gotten drafted, I never would have had the opportunity to have the farm. We would have most likely sold the property and my family would have moved elsewhere. But that would have been the easy thing to do. The Stinar family has gotten punched in the mouth, knocked on our ass, and looked over for as long as I can remember. Every time, we’ve picked ourselves back up, kept our head down, and continued moving forward. Adversity is our greatest teacher. I am so thankful for my parents' support in helping build the farm. I couldn’t have done any of this without my fiance, for helping me during all of my surgeries, believing in me, pushing me, listening to all my crazy ideas, and so much more. Also, to my brothers Jack and Braden for being my two sidekicks / crash test dummies in all of this. We fight and bicker like no other, but without them, we would have nothing. And my brother Tyler who is a golfer, but we still love him! They all have played an integral part in building the farm and helping all of our athletes get better. The Velo Farm will continue to grow, and I will continue to develop athletes. All the while, pursuing my journey to getting fully healthy and reaching the professional level of my sport. Thank you for reading this, and following along our journey!