Noticing the growth in Sumrall – along with the ever-increasing interest in baseball in the town – residents Anthony Bourne and Tony Lowery saw the need for an indoor sports facility to serve the surrounding community.
So the two got to work on constructing Back 42 Sports, an upcoming facility expected to open in late January or early February at 1683 Mississippi 42, just outside the Sumrall city limits.
“Sumrall is definitely growing very fast, and over the last 10 to 12 years, it’s really become a baseball town, with Coach (Larry) Knight at the high school,” said Bourne, who also is the co-owner/co-host at Real South Hunting. “Baseball has been growing in the area – our rec program had more than 100 this fall that’s playing.
“And a big motivation was to have somewhere when it’s raining, or when it’s cold, (players) can come in and get reps – pitching, fielding. So what the plan is, is to cater to the community and youth sports. The slab is finished, and we’re just waiting on the metal part of the building to come in.”
At first, Back 42 Sports will focus mostly on baseball, with batting cages, a bullpen area, pitching machines and HitTrax, a baseball simulator that measures real-time data and displays live results for immediate feedback, including measures for velocity, bat speed and launch angle. The gym also will offer classes with several well-known baseball and softball instructors, along with weight training, CrossFit training and a yoga room.
“Yoga is very important to health and mind and everything, and I feel like a lot of people will take advantage of being able to come and take yoga classes as well,” Bourne said.
Bourne and Lowery hope to expand in the near future, with a possible outdoor Spartan obstacle course and a 3D archery course.
“We’ve talked about getting basketball goals in there, and volleyball nets – that’s getting bigger and bigger – and also soccer,” Bourne said. “Basically, the way it’s set up, there will be one big shell, which is a big cage with netting in the big part of the building.
“There’s a divider that you can pull back and use the one big open space, so you could hold soccer clinics, volleyball could come in. That’s something that we could look at more down the road; we’ve talked about it for sure.”
Back 42 Sports also will play host to several events for Bull Baseball Club, a youth baseball organization recently founded by Chancy Rogers.
“Our rec program had over 200 kids last spring, and over 100 this fall that’s playing,” Bourne said. “I’ve become really good friends with Chancy, who’s probably the number one instructor in our area for kids.
“He wanted to start his own organization, so we really pushed him to go out and do that, and we went from two teams to 10 teams. So a big part of this will be used for Bull Baseball Club – both of my boys play, so that was a big motivation (for the gym).”