While other youngsters were on swing sets and playground slides, Brandon Turner was on a baseball field.
Life with veteran high school baseball coach Mike Turner kept him around baseball and eventually launched a career that included a stop at college baseball power Mississippi State, an eighth-round selection by the Florida Marlins in the Major League baseball draft, a couple of years in the pros and a half-dozen years in college coaching.
His youth now has led the younger Turner into establishing a year-round baseball facility to be known as Turner Baseball Academy.
"It actually came about because I think there is a need for it in the Chattanooga area," he said. "Being from this area, it obviously means a lot to me."
Turner, who was always around when his dad was coaching at Charleston, wound up playing for Mike at Walker Valley and went from there to Mississippi State where he earned All-America honors and played in a college world series.
He was a minor league all-star in his first professional season but in his second year he began looking at a career move and turned to college coaching with stints as an assistant at Carson-Newman, Lee University and most recently Tennessee Tech where he also served as recruiting coordinator.
The Academy, a 4,000-square foot facility that will open officially on Sept. 1, is located off Jersey Pike at 4295 Cromwell Road.
"In the past a lot of Chattanooga kids have had to go to Atlanta, Knoxville or Nashville to be able to use a facility like ours and I think a lot of people around here are happy our organization is going to be in Chattanooga," he said. "It should cut travel for a lot of families."
The TBA will field two 17-year-old teams and one 16-year-old squad this fall, and they'll be called Exposure. His plan is to add teams from the 10-under age group all the way up to the 17-under group. They'll be sponsored by Mizuno.
Several of the academy's instructors and Exposure coaches have local ties including Kyler Burke, Jamie Tricoglou, Joe Wingate, Jon Clinard, Brendan Murphy, Zach Stephens, Chad and Dustin Fromm and Steve Garland.
Burke was a first-round draft pick by the San Diego Padres following his high school career at Ooltewah. He bypassed a Vanderbilt scholarship and wound up playing six seasons in the minors as an outfielder and then pitcher in the Padres and Chicago Cubs organizations.
Tricoglou pitched for six years in the Colorado Rockies minor league system and has been the pitching coach for Soddy-Daisy for the past half-dozen seasons. Murphy was an outstanding hitter at Grace Academy before going to Marshall and was twice drafted by the Montreal Expos. Wingate, the former Ooltewah coach and current Chattanooga State assistant, had assistant tours at Tennessee and Arkansas State. Stephens, the Ohio Valley Conference career leader in home runs and RBIs while at Tennessee Tech, played at Soddy-Daisy and is currently in the Texas Rangers' farm system. Ex-Walker Valley standouts Chad and Dustin from played respectively at Lipscomb and Lee and Clinard, a star at Bradley Central, played collegiately at Tennessee Tech. Garland, a part owner in the venture, is currently the coach at East Hamilton.
"It didn't take long to get these guys on board. They're eager to do something like this," Turner said.
Parents can obtain further information on the academy online at www.turnerbaseballacademy.com or by calling 423-464-0320.
Contact Ward Gossett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...