Founded in 2010 by Chris Tracy, a former Kennesaw State baseball player, the young program wrapped up play for the year in July.
Tracy, who lives in the Sequoyah attendance zone, had grown dissatisfied that children in middle grades at local schools were forced to look outside the district to play competitive baseball.
“We had kids play for East Cobb Baseball, Sandy Plains Baseball and 6-4-3 Baseball because there were no options in eastern Cherokee County,” Tracy said. “There was only a recreational league.”
It was then that Tracy decided to found the Junior Chiefs program.
Having heard that Big Springs United Methodist Church had land available for use, Tracy worked out a leasing agreement and created what would become the Junior Chiefs’ home field.
For the program to succeed, Tracy had to raise the money through fundraisers — or spend it out of pocket.
“Every single, solitary nickel has come from private funds and a little fundraising,” said Tracy, who owns a chemical manufacturing company. “The county declined to assist us in any form or fashion.”
Tracy said his main purpose for founding the Junior Chiefs was to make sure the young athletes could stay together.
“I wanted to keep all of the kids in the Sequoyah High School district that wanted to play competitive baseball together,” he said.
The program consists of six teams, with each team averaging 11 or 12 players on its roster. The season stretches from February to July.
Teams that field players from grades 3-5 play in the Lanier League and may play five or more tournaments in a year. Teams with players in grades 6-8 play in the North Georgia Feeder League and could play in as many as eight tournaments throughout the year.
The coaches of the teams, Tracy said, consist of two former minor league players, several former college players, two middle school coaches, one former high school coach and some of the players’ fathers.
The goal of the program, according to Tracy, is to educate and prepare the players for the baseball program that exists at Sequoyah High School.
“The goal is to teach the players how Sequoyah prepares for practice and games by using the same exercises and drills,” Tracy said. “We want to teach the players the situational plays that (Sequoyah) uses in games, things like bunt coverages and pickoffs. We want to teach the kids how to play smart ball, and we want to safely get them in shape. Furthermore, we want (the players) to develop and improve the character traits that demonstrate sportsmanship and citizenship.”
Tracy commends Sequoyah’s varsity baseball coach, Joseph Jones, for the hard work he’s put into the Junior Chiefs worthwhile.
“I approached (Jones) first about the program because, ultimately, we wanted to be supplying him with well-coached athletes that he could win with,” Tracy said. “Most high school coaches do not want anything to do with junior programs, but he saw the benefit for Sequoyah, the younger guys and the community.”
Despite the program having only existed for a few years, there is already a growing buzz surrounding the Junior Chiefs.
When asked how the community reacted to the program when it first started, Robert Driver said it was “pure amazement and excitement.”
“This program gives the community a sense of pride,” said Driver, who coached with Tracy in 2005 on their sons’ baseball team. “Over time, this will become bigger than just baseball and Chris Tracy.”