Viera baseball, softball teams find new home at USSSA complex


Viera High Principal Mike Alba, left; Viera High Athletic Director Chris Gallagher; Kevin Reynolds of the USSSA; Brock Doty, Viera High assistant coach; Viera High Coach Bob Doty; Viera High baseball players Connor Leary, Andrew Brait, Jordan Kaplan, Declan McDermott and Jordan Allen; and Brevard County School Board member Matt Susin are excited about Viera High playing baseball and softball games at the USSSA complex.

Viera Voice Jill Blue Gaines

Throughout the school year, Viera High senior softball player Kelly Bishop would drive by the new United States Specialty Sports Association’s Space Coast Complex and marvel at its awesomeness.

She even wondered what it would be like to play there.

Well, this season, Bishop and her teammates — along with the Viera High baseball team — will get that chance.

In an agreement reached between the USSSA and Viera High, the Hawks will practice and play their baseball and softball games at the new complex …

For free.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Viera High baseball coach Bob Doty said. “They’ve done quite an extensive (renovation) over there. My goodness. We’ve had a chance to go over there a couple of times and it’s absolutely immaculate, state of the art. It’s just absolutely awesome.”

As part of the agreement, which was put together by Brevard County District 4 School Board Member Matt Susin, Viera players will volunteer 10 hours each at the USSSA Stadium. They will take tickets at the gate and work the concession stands.

Proceeds from the front gate from Viera games will go to the school.

But USSSA’s generosity doesn’t end there.

Fifty Viera students will intern with the USSSA during the summer, where they will benefit from a hands-on experience in the inner workings of the stadium operations. The organization also is expected to finalize a deal this month with Viera High’s TV production class that would allow students to do their own broadcast and get an introduction to sports broadcasting.

Susin said he approached the USSSA about letting the Hawks play games at the Space Coast Complex because he saw the need to help Viera, which was built without a softball or baseball field.

“I figured this would be the best deal, so I approached USSSA with the idea and they were more than welcoming,” Susin said. “They’re a great community partner. They said, ‘What would you like?’

“Not only did we get the baseball and softball teams to play there, but next year the Cape Coast Conference championships are going to be there, too.”

Not every organization would go so far to help out a local school, but in the case of the USSSA, it seemed like a natural fit.

“We’re definitely, 100 percent community oriented,” said USSSA Chief Operations Officer Kevin Reynolds. “And with Viera High School being right across the street, talking with the principal (Mike Alba) and Don DeDonatis, our CEO, and Matt Susin and (Viera’s) athletic director (Chris Gallagher), their schedule and our schedule worked out.

“We wanted them to play in a first-class facility. It’s a partnership, both in the operation and in the field. High school and being in the sports business is about creating memories. They’ll be able to talk about this for years to come.”

Bishop, for one, can’t wait for the season to start.

“I am very excited to play there,” she said. “I drive past it almost every day and it looks amazing. The turf infield will definitely take some getting used to, but I’m looking forward to it.

“We are all very thankful that USSSA is letting us use their facilities.”

The USSSA fields, which have artificial turf, should provide a big upgrade over the fields at Viera Regional Park — where the Hawks played previously — because of their ability to drain quickly.

Viera’s softball will play its first game at its new home on Feb. 12 against Palm Bay. Viera’s baseball team will make its Space Coast Complex debut at 6 p.m. Feb. 27 against Satellite.

“It’s exciting,” Doty said. “It’s almost too good to be true. Sometimes, I want to pinch myself.”