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Sandlot owners put focus on the development of young players

Starting a new business is exciting. Knowing it will offer the community an opportunity at something that Vicksburg has never had before makes the feeling even better.

Anna Burnett Tillotson, Pierson Waring and former Chicago Cubs player Roosevelt Brown have partnered together to create The Sandlot, an indoor sports facility located in the former Gymsouth building on Wisconsin Avenue.

The Sandlot will offer a range of enhanced sporting activities, from private baseball lessons to agility classes and sports camps.

“We will offer instruction in batting, how to field, how to throw — anything to do with baseball,” Brown said.

The facility will be equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and technology, Brown said, including Diamond Kinetics and Rapsodo, which is used by Major League Baseball teams to help advance their players.

Camps, coaching seminars and showcases will also be scheduled at The Sandlot.

Brown said showcases are designed for college and pro teams to come in and scope out the talent.

Brown, who is from a family of collegiate and professional baseball players and is a graduate of Vicksburg High School, will serve as the manager at The Sandlot. He will also provide private instruction.

“When I was growing up there was nothing like this (The Sandlot),” Brown said.

Waring, who played baseball at an early age and went on to play two years at Hinds Community College, a semester at Mississippi State University and a semester at Union University in Tennessee, echoed Brown’s sentiments.

“I feel like this is a need in our community,” Waring said. “Growing up we always had to drive to Jackson for lessons. And now with Sports Force here I think it will be a great opportunity.”

Tillotson is new to the baseball scene. But after her 8-year-old son began playing all-star baseball in the summer of 2019, she became interested and initiated the idea of opening an indoor sports facility.

“That fall, his All-Star team transitioned into a travel tournament team. As our time transitioned with tournament ball, the need for an indoor facility in our community became apparent,” she said. “Practice space was needed when the weather wasn’t on our side.”

In addition to baseball, The Sandlot will offer training opportunities for other outdoor sports.

“This is something that has been needed for years,” Brown said. “I just want to give kids the opportunity I didn’t have. Our kids have been left behind from Madison, Ridgeland, Pearl, Brandon, Clinton — those surrounding areas had stuff like this (The Sandlot) and it showed on the fields.”

And with Vicksburg having more professional baseball players per capita than almost any county in Mississippi — “There are about 12 of us,” Brown said — there is room for plenty more.

“We are on the map, but we just don’t have the opportunities other people have because they are training,” Brown said.

Currently, Brown is working with several college athletes and has also trained many professional athletes. He has also helped more than 50 high school baseball players earn college scholarships.

“I know the tough road it takes to get there and I want to do everything to make them productive and I love seeing kids being productive and doing things they thought they could never do,” Brown said.

Tillotson said they are hoping to open the doors in May. For more information, go to The Sandlot of Vicksburg on Facebook.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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