MIDLOTHIAN — UGOTEM Sports, the brainchild of Texas Ace Heating & Air owner Jori McDaniel and 22-year-old manager Kaytlyn Matthews, opened Friday at 87 Dividend Road in Midlothian.
The facility, which will serve the community by offering shade from the sweltering Texas heat and batting cages to youth softball and baseball teams, started as an idea to create a practice area for McDaniel's children.
"Jori was going to make the building a place for his kids to practice in. Instead, he had a stroke of genius and decided to bring something special to the Midlothian community," Matthews said. "From there, myself, Daniel (De Los Santos) and Jake (Peterson) went to work turning this place into what it is today. We painted everything and did all the interior work in the building."
Matthews, a former Lady Panther soccer player and a Midlothian High School graduate and Tarleton State University student, also hand designed the logo for UGOTEM Sports.
"This is pretty much been my baby," Matthews continued. "It's been very important to me. Doing this has been about nervousness and anxiety, but I'm glad it's gotten to where it has. Finishing it though doesn't mean that we're done. It's only the beginning."
The facility features not only the pair of 20- to 30-foot batting cages and picnic area but also a billiards room, couches, vending machines and a trio of plasma-screen televisions to delight teams, parents and players while they wait for their reserved appointment. King said that extra "umph," as well as the lack of wait time for cages, is what makes the UGOTEM Sports brand different from other locations that may have more bells and whistles.
The Midlothian Chamber of Commerce, represented by its President and CEO Cammy Jackson, was also on hand, as well as Pentagon Payroll Ambassador Carolyn Taylor and Juice Plus Ambassador Vivianne Kamp.
Jackson presented Matthews and the UGOTEM Sports team with a plaque signifying their membership in the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce's business community.
And by the time Jackson, Kamp, Taylor and other specially-invited personnel packed the main lobby of the facility, calls were already fielded to reserve slots and times.
"It was very fortuitous that there was a baseball tournament this weekend," said Michelle King, a primary management advisor for Matthews and Marketing and Ad Manager for Texas Ace. "We've not only had coaches contact us, but also grandparents that came in about 10 a.m. this morning asking 'Is it ready yet? Are you open?' I told them to see us in an hour. The opening has been primarily word-of-mouth, but it's definitely gotten around."
Though there are hundreds of community businesses that comprise its directory, Jackson said both she and the chamber believe that the new venture will be an exciting new addition to the many that power Midlothian.
"When they called and told me about it, I was all over it," she said. "We don't have enough activities for kids here in Midlothian so this is pretty cool because there is now a place where they can play and practice out of the heat. The fact that Texas Ace was doing it proved t us that it would be quality and that they'll be heavily involved in the community, which is what we ask from all our businesses."
Matthews said there are still plans to expand outwards to create a larger facility to incorporate the sports of soccer and, possibly, motocross sports.
Marcus S. Marion, @MarcusMarionWNI