Kirk Goodson and Eric Lickfeld have been colleagues for nearly 20 years in the county’s school system and began coaching baseball at West Stokes in 1999. The two have worked together until they both stepped down in 2016 to spend more time with their families and eventually open Backwards K Academy.
“It started with our summer camps while we were coaching baseball at West,” Goodson said. “I believe our first camp was around 2003 and we have evolved with the changing times each year. Our goals are for our students to learn to love the game and pick up life lessons that could benefit them now and when they get older.”
Backwards K uses the latest learning techniques. They put each of their players through four different stations including a warm up, core, power and a video station. Currently they have 197 students signed up for individual sessions and a winter camp finishing in mid-February. Both coaches are at the facility six days a week working with both boys and girls from middle to high school. They employ six of their former athletes from West Stokes: Tanner Lomax, Thomas Newsome, Luke Bowen, and Goodson’s three children, Reid, Gavin and Leah. They also have South Stokes senior Austin Lilly who comes in and catches pitching workouts.
“We have kids that come from all over,” said Lickfeld. “They come from Boone, Raleigh, Charlotte, Hickory and several cities in Virginia. We love hearing and seeing the success stories. We have several kids that are committed to schools such as UNC, N.C. State, East Carolina, Appalachian, Lenoir Ryan and UNC-G. “
Both coaches have a vast knowledge of the game. Goodson graduated and played baseball at Virginia Tech. and Lickfeld spent his time on the diamond at Fairmont State University in West Virginia. Since videoing athletes is one of their main focuses of helping players progress, they flew to the Texas Baseball Ranch in Montgomery to learn from renown baseball expert Ron Wolforth. They also traveled to the Baseball Ranch in Florida and listened to Randy Sullivan.
Goodson concentrates on the pitching aspect of the game, while Lickfeld works primarily with hitting.
“It was a new way of teaching kids and we wanted to learn it the right way, so we went,” Goodson said. “It’s amazing how much you can learn from watching film. I have over 9,000 hours of watching video under my belt. The camera doesn’t lie and the kids and their parents can see where they start and how they can progress.”
The coaches said that they love using baseball as a platform to help kids work towards a common goal. “When we were coaching at the high school, we always try to get our kids to want to be at practice instead of making them come,” Lickfeld said. “You could see them evolve into a team and they wanted to be there. That’s the way it is here.”
The duo spend training sessions at their academy where they’ve partnered with Spark Fitness and Performance at 416 W. King Street. They provide 30 and 60 minute sessions.
“We give all glory to God for what He has done,” stated Goodson. “Without Him none of this is possible.”
For more information about Backwards K Academy and individual sessions follow the program on Facebook or Instagram.
Robert Money can be reached at 336-749-1193.