Back in the ‘90s, Chris Snopek was playing for the Chicago White Sox and every year the calls would start at the beginning of the off-season.
Parents of young baseball players would ask Snopek if he could work with their child and give them a major leaguer’s perspective on how to play to baseball.
After a few years of meeting anywhere he could find space — Madison Central High School and Smith-Wills Stadium were two hotspots — Snopek saw his client list grow. It eventually got so big something had to be done. So he opened Performance Sports Academy, his sports instruction facility off Lakeland Drive in Flowood, in February 2001, after he retired from Major League Baseball.
“The Lord kind of led me into it,” Snopek said.
Performance Sports Academy has four full-time instructors, three of whom have played baseball professionally. They are: Pete Young, who starred at Mississippi State before being drafted by the Montreal Expos; Chad Alexander, who played for the Houston Astros; Adam Smith, who pitched for the University of Southern Mississippi; and, Barry Wesson, who played at Mississippi State before playing outfield for the Houston Astros.
Thus the motto of PSA is simple: “Perform with the Pros.”
And that’s exactly what is happening with PSA’s baseball spring training that prepares a group of clients ages five to 11 for their upcoming baseball seasons. Training started February 11 and runs through March 13.
Overall, PSA offers services to clients ages five and up. Dozens of clients have gone on to play baseball at the community college level, at Division I schools and even the pros.
Clients play fall ball in the Wood Bat Fall League (WBFL), with teams coached by PSA instructors. There is also an indoor soccer league.
The majority of training and instruction is done indoors at PSA. That’s a big reason Snopek wants to open a larger facility. He has 150 acres adjacent to the proposed Reunion Interchange under contract in Madison County. A preliminary building design has been completed. All that’s left is for the Interchange to get the greenlight from the Mississippi Department of Transportation, which has been haggling with Madison the City and Madison County over funding for the project. Snopek said last week that he expects the project to get the official go-ahead in the next couple of weeks.
At the new facility, Snopek would like to get into the business of offering sports medicine and physical therapy to clients.
“We just want to evolve more and have a little more space for outdoor events,” Snopek said.
That does not necessarily mean the Flowood facility will close automatically once the building in Madison County is completed.
“North Jackson and the Rankin County area are growing as fast as any,” Snopek said. “We’ll decide in the next few weeks how to split the services between the two places.”
On a recent Wednesday Snopek and his instructors school nine- to 11-year-olds on the fundamentals of baseball: hitting, fielding, catching and throwing. Clients spend a few minutes at one station before moving to another.
Besides the obvious physical impact the training has, Snopek says PSA wants to reach its clients in a more meaningful way.
“Our goal is to impact kids for the Lord,” he said. “We try to do that year-round.”
For details about PSA, including training times and fees, log onto www.performancesportsacademy.com.
Contact MBJ staff writer Clay Chandler at clay.chandler@ msbusiness.com .