Formerly Extra Innings, Ryan Dean bought the location in August to form his own site for the training and development of young athletes.
A baseball player to his core, Dean went to the College World Series with Middle Georgia College. During his college pitching career, Dean injured his arm, requiring surgery and ending his chase for the professional draft.
After college, he coached at his high school alma mater, Columbus High School, before teaching with other organizations. Throughout his journey after school, Dean knew in the back of his mind that he eventually wanted to own his own teaching academy for sports.
When signed on as an Associate Scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Dean gained the encouragement and confidence to take the opportunity presented by Extra Innings.
"Ever since I got hurt, I had surgery on my arm back in 2002, and never really recovered from that. I wanted to stay in the game, I knew I didn't want to do anything else and ever since then I've had a vision to open a facility up that you could do it all. Anywhere from hitting instruction to working out, showcases, everything -- the whole nine yards. Just take a kid from ninth [grade] all the way through high school and see him off to college and just kind of develop them on and off the field," Dean said.
Dean specializes in working with high school athletes in both baseball and softball, while assistant manager and lead instructor Ric Bishop has experience coaching younger athletes. Dean emphasized the importance of gaining proper instruction at an early age.
"At that age, it's so critical to be taught the right thing. The earlier you learn the right fundamentals, the right mechanics, how to play the game right -- anything from how to swing properly, mechanics at the plate and how to play the game as far as just the unwritten rules of baseball. Just preparing them for the next level so that they're just a little smarter than the next guy, a little more prepared than the next guy, and it's really just about preparing a kid into the best player he can be. I'm not big on teaching a set [standard], like you've got to do it just like this guy, 'if you don't do it like Greg Maddox, you're not going to be successful.' I like to let kids who they are, you know to be an individual and how to be successful with what they do. And help them use what they've got to be successful."
Coming from Middle Georgia College, Dean played with and against athletes that now grace the major leagues, including Brian McCann and Jeff Francoeur. He called the sight of such success from former teammates and opponents as "bittersweet." But he uses what he learned with and against such talent to further the abilities of his young students adding that many parents do not fully understand the opportunities available at junior colleges such as Middle Georgia.
"Sometimes it's hard for parents to accept that most guys aren't going to go to the University of Georgia, but there are seven or eight junior colleges in Georgia that are just admirable to play junior college ball than at Georgia. In fact, just as many go to professional ball from a junior college as they do from division one," Dean said.
As an associate scout, he travels the region looking for talent helping to share the burden of multi-state regions shared by only a handful of major league scouts.
"They manage to cover it but they really don't have the time to see everybody and see them more than once. So I really just try to really get out there and just find some guys that are under the radar and save them some time," Dean said.
Dean has been actively instructing for about five years and in that time has had 70 players under his training sign college scholarships.
A fall camp will be held Nov. 20 and 21 at their 14 Felton Place location bringing a hitting coach from the Braves farm system, former University of South Carolina pitching coach and incoming head coach of the University of South Alabama Mark Calvi as well as several major league scouts.
Cartersville Sports Academy offers team and individual instruction as well as team use of facilities, film analysis, speed and agility training and the Combat Pitcher program. Cartersville Sports Academy is open Monday through Friday from 2 to 9 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and by appointment on Sunday. For more information call 678-535-3281 or visit www.csabaseball.com.