As Jackson-Madison County Schools are set to begin their own inaugural middle school baseball season next week, they’re doing so with a good bit of enthusiasm.
According to school board member Jason Compton, who is the director of the West Tennessee Healthcare Sportsplex where all games will be played, Northeast Middle had 70 boys try out for the 29 spots on the school’s team.
Superintendent Marlon King and other board members were impressed and have already expressed the desire to adjust plans next year in case that many boys try out again in 2024.
But along with the enthusiasm also came the desire for some students to play that don’t have access to quality equipment to play.
That’s why 20 JMCSS middle schoolers, a few high school players from various teams in the district and district leaders were at Academy Sports bright and early on Friday.
Academy Sports Senior Regional Marketing Specialist Rick Burleson was in town on behalf of the corporation to help those middle schoolers pay for up to $150 in baseball equipment.
“We know that baseball equipment can be expensive, especially if you have no equipment,” Burleson said. “So when the Sportsplex and the school system reached out to us asking if we could help, we were glad to see what we could do.”
Burleson said helping out in the community is a goal in the overall message of Academy Sports so being a part of initiatives like this is important to the corporation.
Jason Bridgeman, who is the district athletic director, was on hand to oversee the event and had a good time watching high school players from Madison, Liberty, North Side, South Side and Jackson Central-Merry help the younger players look for equipment they’d need.
“We’re appreciative of everyone who has stepped up to help us have this,” Bridgeman said. “This is a vision of [Superintendent Marlon King], and he’s good at getting partners in the community to help out, and this is a good example of that.”
Ryan Blake is the tournament director who helps with team marketing for the Sportplex. He was also at Academy on Friday.
“We host middle school softball in the fall, and we’re glad to be a part of hosting middle school baseball,” Blake said. “None of the middle schools have baseball facilities right now, so if they’re going to play, they’ve got to play somewhere.
“We’re glad to provide that, and I’m personally looking forward to hosting these guys for the next few weeks and seeing baseball talent in Jackson-Madison County Schools begin to develop over the next few years.”
Five middle school teams from the district will begin play on Monday through the end of April and will have a season-ending tournament to crown the inaugural JMCSS Middle School Baseball champion in early May.
Brandon Shields, email@example.com