The Backstop is a new softball facility on Bald Hill Road in Warwick that looks to become a staple in the sport in the greater New England area.
Owner and operator Emily Johnson, a lifelong softball player who competed at Rhode Island College, is excited to see her dream become a reality and offer a facility for young softball players to learn the ropes, and improve their game in a fun environment.
“I have been coaching for about 10 years, and I was bouncing around to different facilities. Last year I was in a position where I didn’t have a facility, so I figured that it was the time to take that leap. I began coming up with some business plans, reaching out, talking to my connections, making sure that I had some really concrete people to help. In October we signed the lease and opened in February and it’s been an exciting journey since then,” said Johnson.
Johnson coaches players from not only central Rhode Island, but all throughout the state as well as parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut. Location was key in her search, and she felt that Warwick offered a central, convenient option.
“Ideally, I wanted to be in the Warwick area. I had kids coming from Massachusetts and Connecticut, so I wanted to be central and to also be right off the highway is very convenient. I wanted to be the center so I wouldn’t have to be a southern or northern location, Warwick was really ideal,” said Johnson.
The Backstop is a softball-only facility. Unlike many businesses that offer both baseball and softball, The Backstop has made it a point to focus on softball, while also compiling a staff of coaches with collegiate experience in order to ensure their clients receive top-notch instruction.
“The biggest thing that we pride ourselves on is that we’re a softball-only facility which is uncommon. There are a lot of baseball facilities that offer softball, but it’s not the focus. I remember growing up, whenever I would go to these facilities the softball equipment was older, the instructors would be people that played in high school, so we really wanted to have an all-collegiate staff, people that played at those higher levels instructing. That’s been the driving force behind this,” said Johnson.
Business has been good in the opening months, with The Backstop’s clientele increasing each week. Johnson has been to happy to see the steady progress, and has been learning the business side of things in the process.
“It’s been great, it’s been a learning curve for sure, but we’ve done some good things and have gotten some really positive feedback,” said Johnson. “Winter is the busy season so we opened a little late for that, but I think it was a blessing in disguise because we were able to learn some things that we wouldn’t have been able to if it was packed. We have been able to grow it the way we want and will be able to continue before the winter season.”
Johnson is also excited to finally have a place, and a business, to call her own.
“It’s wild, it’s all been kind of a blur over the past nine months. I can honestly say that I come to work every day and love it, not many people get to say that,” said Johnson. “It was a dream of mine but I never thought that it tangible. It just kind of happened, and it’s been so fun and exciting.”