By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The game of baseball has taken Zane Adams all over this country.
And the sport has afforded the 2005 Millington Central High School graduate the chance to get a college education and moving into the baseball coaching profession. After stops at Dyersburg State and West Alabama University, Adams is currently teaching at Brighton High School and serves as the pitching coach for the Cardinals.
Living in Munford with his wife and high school sweetheart Becca, Adams has reached several of the goals he set almost 10 years ago. Another one of his dreams was to take the game he loves and give back to the community that has given him so much.
On June 1, Adams opened The Dugout Sports Academy LLC at 96 Atoka-Commercial Drive in Atoka. The facility is 3,200 square-feet with two full batting cages and a pitching area. The grounds surrounding the building are also used for warming up before a session with Adams.
“I have taught up to 35 lessons in a week,” he said. “I average around 30 a week. I’ve had people come from Ripley, Brighton, Millington, Munford and even Halls and Arlington.”
Adams wants The Dugout to reach his hometown of Millington across North Shelby County. The facility is open to all ages including adults. Lessons start at $40 for 40 minutes and discount packages are available involving pitching, catching, hitting, fielding, speed and strength.
Adams has experience in all phases of the game being an All-District pitcher and hitter during his time as a Millington Trojan. He also played football during his high school days as an All-Region linebacker.
But his love for baseball left him without a doubt of the sport he would play at the next level.
“I’ve always liked baseball the best,” he said. “I enjoy pitching the most so that’s why I picked it for college.
“And after being a grad assistant for a couple of years, I moved into the high school coaching ranks,” Adams recalled. “In college all the players are good. But I quickly saw on the high school level, some players need a little bit more help. So being from this area, that motivated me to open up The Dugout because I want to see our players get better and compete with those teams near Memphis.”
The Dugout not only trains baseball players, Adams offers lessons to softball players in hitting and fielding. Coming this fall, Brighton Softball legend Shack Griffith-Cross will join Adams’ staff and focus on softball pitching.
Adams, 26, said The Dugout will provide area players an opportunity to learn from experts who love the game, have had success and who are familiar with the area.
“I didn’t get into this to make money,” he said. “I’m looking to get my players better. This game has given me so much and taught me life lessons. I want that for these young players from Millington to Ripley.”
Area children playing baseball and softball now have to travel to the Cordova area for lessons at an academy.
“We’re closer and cheaper,” Adams said. “I’m fair too. I know times are tough.
“I played at Millington,” he added. “I live in Munford and I work at Brighton. I want to see this whole area strive. I will put in extra work to help these players get to the next level.”
Adams said reaching his dream of opening a sports academy has opened the door for a new goal.
“I told one of my kids who plays at Munford, ‘I coach at Brighton,’” he concluded. “‘I want to be mad at myself knowing that something I taught you helped you get a hit or throw that pitch.’ There’s so much talent in North Shelby and Tipton counties. I know these kids can compete with the Houstons, Arlingtons and Bartletts.”