Despite Being Closed for Months by COVID, This Team is on The RISE

Whenever the door swings open at 3905 M-139 in St. Joseph and somebody walks through it, they are immediately part of The RISE family. No questions asked. At The RISE, (short for Railsback Indoor Sports Expo) everybody is always looking out for one another thanks to the culture of family, because as co-owner Nicole Railsback says, “We believe in ‘Family First.’ Our go-to phrase is ‘I got you,’ and it shows by the sheer level of commitment that our coaches have with one another and to our athletes.”

The RISE, barely more than 15-months old now, is an indoor sports facility offering individual and group lessons and training in baseball, softball, soccer, football, and agility and strength training. However, they also offer the ability to rent out the entire facility for team practices and training as well as parties.

Nicole insists, however, “We are more than just sports. We truly care about our athletes and strive to make that known in the way we treat them on and off the field. We believe we are creating a legacy of kids who are determined to never give up, to always continue to move forward…to RISE.” She adds, “There is nothing but hustle, determination, commitment and a solid sense of humor filling our facility.” That sheer grit and dedication has earned The RISE a slot among the Fifteen Under 15 Small Business Enterprises in Southwest Michigan with 15 or fewer employees for the Class of 2020.

Owned and operated by Nicole and Cody Railsback, The RISE and its staff eight people was created out of pure passion for the game of baseball in concert with the need for an exceptional place to go for athletes to receive private, individualized lessons. The Railsbacks also recognized the need for a large indoor space for local teams to rent during bad weather months.

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The RISE opened in August of 2019 and just as they were gaining momentum, the coronavirus pandemic forced them to close down in February of 2020. They weren’t able to open their doors again for more than half a year until September of 2020. As Nicole says, “So, essentially for the first year of our business being open, we were closed for a good half of it due to COVID,” but she quickly (and proudly) adds, “Yet, we still managed to make it through.”

Every new business faces a myriad of challenges, and another challenge for The RISE is getting the exposure necessary to expand their agility and strength training department. They have exceptional trainers who work hard to create individualized programs for each athlete when it comes to their specific sports.

Nicole says, “We have a great program when it comes to strengthening and conditioning athletes, we just haven’t received the exposure we need for it to really take off the way we would like it to.”

Nevertheless, in the small amount of time they’ve been open, The RISE has been able to produce District Champions and Tournament Champions. They’ve managed to decrease the pop-up time by 1.5 seconds off one of their catchers, which is actually a vast improvement, and in once case they’ve helped extend an athlete’s broad jump from 7-feet to 8-feet-10-inches.

“Most importantly,” says Nicole, “We’ve given many athletes back the confidence they’ve been missing to believe in themselves.”

The team at The RISE earns a wide array of benefits from vacation time, sick time and personal time to flexible work scheduling, profit sharing, bonus money and training.

Beyond taking care of their team, they are determined to create a safe, fun yet challenging environment where their athletes can excel in their craft, and the Railsbacks truly care about the community. In fact, for a first year company, they’ve set a torrid pace, having managed to host fundraisers that have raised over $10,000 for local families and organizations.

They raised $6,500 to pay for a special needs child’s health insurance deductible in the community. They hosted a Thanksgiving food drive for a local family whose daughter was diagnosed with leukemia right before the holiday last year. They raised $3,000 for teachers at a local pre-school when COVID closed them down and they weren’t able to afford to pay their teachers, and they have sponsored the St. Joseph varsity cheerleading team.

Nicole says, “The point is, we mean what we say and we say what we mean. We care about our athletes. We care about our community. We walk our talk.” She adds, “All of our coaches are heavily involved in participating in our fundraisers, sponsorships and donations. We actively support our athletes not just in the facility during training, but also by showing up to their games. Being there for them at all hours and days of the week regardless of their circumstances.”

The bottom line is The RISE is truly on the rise. They are always looking for new ways to team up and expand the business, and Nicole says, “We always say, ‘Nothing is off the table.’ We’re here for it.”

That’s the attitude and aptitude that the judges are always looking for when honoring small business enterprises in Michigan’s Great Southwest.

To learn more about The Rise, click this link: www.riserailsbacksports.com or, you can call them at 469-401-8727.