In 2015, a group of 12u baseball players from a local park in the Austell, GA area were beginning their final two weeks of practice prior to the Little League World Series Tournament. The head coach called upon a friend and local baseball coach by the name of Raul A. Combest to help with their final preparation for the tournament. With the assistance of his son Jamaal Combest, who was playing high school baseball, Coach Raul immediately noticed the players were very "raw" and needed to learn the technical "how to" of the game.
Now it was tournament time and the players and parents were excited to start the tournament. I wish I could say they went on to win, but that wasn’t the case. They played extremely well but fell short. Through their close game defeats, they found victory. They realized that with more training they could play this game.
After their elimination, the coaches congratulated the players and began to leave the field. As they began to leave, the parents and players approached Coach Raul and asked if he would train them over the summer. Coach Raul and Coach Jamaal agreed and began training the very next day. Their goal for the upcoming year was very simple…win both the Little League District and State Championship.
Fall 2015 arrives and Coach Raul added Coach Franklin Mateo and created Austell Sports Academy. In their 13U Travel Team debut, they were very nervous, and it showed. They finished in last place. The remarkable thing was they didn't feel sad. They felt their nerves got the best of them and gave games away. They vowed to be ready next time and in their next tournament, they took 2nd place.
Spring 2016…With travel ball behind them, they now began to focus on their local park's schedule. Putting into play, all they had learned over the summer, the players dominated the season. The season was just a prelude of things to come. Finally, the Playoffs were here. The District Championship was a slugfest. Fighting heat and fatigue they went on to go undefeated and win the championship game 14-19. They continued their dominant ways by going undefeated and winning the State Championship as well. They would represent the state of Georgia at the Little League Regional Tournament. This was a feat never achieved in the history for the local park. Next up…a trip to Florida for the Regional Tournament. Ultimately the Regional competition proved too much for our heroes.
Once again, these young men wanted to keep playing and learning together. As before, the focus was on the physical, mental, and technical development of each individual player. The program is intense, demanding, and designed to produce a more fundamentally developed baseball player. Now as a 14u travel ball team, they entered 9 tournaments and finished "Runner-Up" twice and "Champs" twice.
I'm proud to report that all the players continued to do well, and their training paved the way for them to play for their perspective high schools baseball teams. Both academically and as young men in the community they continue to be champions. They are living role models of what can happen when we give our young people guidance and they learn to persevere.
Austell Sports Academy has now transformed into Georgia Elite Baseball. We recognize that many gifted athletes are left behind as baseball transitions into a sport that is becoming increasingly financially out of reach for many youths in our communities. Georgia Elite Baseball Academy is committed to providing an opportunity for the youths of today and tomorrow to create those same moments, achievements, victories and to learn the lifelong lessons that baseball provides.