Smarter sports

Mississippi Magazine|July - August 2020

Smarter sports
Training facilities enhance the skills of hopeful youth.
BUSTER WOLFE

Organized team sports have played essential roles in most Mississippians’ lives at all levels. Starting with playground baseball, softball, and football games, young players in the Magnolia State have grown up to become accomplished athletes. Today, Mississippi is fortunate that businesses have seen the need for specialized instruction in larger, family-oriented facilities. Sports-based training businesses are located in Madison, Hattiesburg, Gluckstadt, Ridgeland, and Pearl.

Donnie Boykin, a battalion chief firefighter of the Pearl Fire Department for 26 years, is co-owner of D-Bat Pearl, one of the state’s premier sports training facilities. Boykin says D-Bat was started because, “My partner Brad Thornton, who is the Pearl fire chief, and I had kids who played baseball together. We just saw a need because it’s hard for coaches to find a place to practice.”

Boykin discovered a Texas location of D-Bat, that had everything they had talked about doing, and they had figured out how to run a successful program. They had been doing it for 20 years. So, the next thing you know, the friends were in Texas talking to them, and the rest is history.

Open for a little over a year, the Pearl location has been very successful. “We’ve been blessed,” he says. “It was a good first year, and we won an award. Compared to D-Bat facilities around the country, we had the most members in our market.”

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July - August 2020