BY GARY PERILLOUX
TUPELO Ð Performance Sports Academy has opened an indoor training facility aimed at the youth sports market in Northeast Mississippi.
Tupelo resident Kirk Presley, a former first round pick of the New York Mets, will manage the 3-year-old company's new location between Room To Room Furniture and The Orchard on Cliff Gookin Boulevard.
Chris Snopek, who played with the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox in the 1990s launched the company with a 22,000-square-foot facility in Flowood and has added other sites in Madison and Canton.
The company already is profitable in the Jackson area, said Snopek, a former baseball All-American at the University of Mississippi.
“We just want to give Northeast Mississippi a facility that promotes special values, Christian values, and a good hard work ethic in sports,” Snopek said. “We're trying to incorporate a facility where athletes that excel at upper levels can have a place to give back and share with the youth in Northeast Mississippi.”
Lead instructors in Tupelo will be Presley and former Delta State baseball player Jason Miller. Additional instructors will come on board in soccer, Presley said.
Athletes may rent time in batting and pitching cages by the hour or half-hour, with annual memberships, special packages and personal instruction offered.
“We can rent the whole facility on an hourly basis and we'll also do birthday parties,” Presley said.
Themed camps will enable individual players and entire teams to participate throughout the year. Presley expects teams to take advantage of Performance Sports Academy during inclement weather and when space at outdoor fields is at a premium. Artificial turf in the building will simulate field conditions.
The business will extend its instruction to outdoor fields for special camps, and the academy will sponsor scouting sessions.
Since leaving professional baseball, Presley has remained active in the game by coaching American Legion teams. He began working with Snopek on the concept of a Northeast Mississippi facility in early 2003.
“That's when we started talking about coming to Tupelo and we've been laying the groundwork to get ready since then,” Presley said. “I just felt like there was a need for a year-round facility like this in the area.”
The academy opened Monday for personal instruction, individual workouts, training and events, with the first major program being a six-week Winter Workout to prepare athletes for the upcoming spring sports season.
“The kids come in and they do five different stations for hitting, fielding, defense, infield and speed/agility,” marketing director Langston Moore said. “They work out for two hours a night for six weeks. If they're in shape, they stay in shape. If they're out of shape, they get an early jump on next baseball season.”
Performance Sports Academy will forge relationships with area youth leagues and recreation departments, he said, and additional academy sites are expected down the road.
“Tupelo is a great fit for us,” Moore said. “It's a great city for youth sports and we're excited about bringing in the professional instruction here. I think it's going to be great not only for us, but for the youth of Tupelo to prepare them for high school and college and maybe the next level.”
“We expect to add more locations,” Snopek said. “We're young, we're ambitious, but at the same time we want to make sure that our product is worthy and professional and ethical. We want to give the athletes the opportunity to learn and excel at a level beyond their dreams.”