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Supporter Spotlight - The Strike Zone
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What: The Stike Zone

Where: 12582 U.S. Highway 278

Call: 404-787-8186

"It’s all about the kids" is Coach Mike Hipps’ motto. A coach for more than 20 years with the Newton County Recreation Department, he has dedicated his life to the children of Newton County.

That’s why he’s opening Strike Zone, a practice and instructional facility geared for baseball and softball. The facility off U.S. Highway 278 will have its grand opening on Saturday. Children of all ages can bat for free and snacks and refreshments will be provided.

Hipps owned the property for many years before deciding to build Strike Zone. He initially built it for his son to practice, but later chose to open it to the county.

"My son needed a place to hit, and I knew a lot of people in Newton County," said Hipps. "I had coached their kids for years, so I figured I might as well build it."

The facility will provide an area for baseball and softball players to practice and receive hitting practices and pitching and batting instructions.

"It’s all about the kids for me," said Hipps, who used to own Rollin’ Wheels, a skating rink, for 18 years. "It’s not about me or making money or anything like that. That’s the way I’ve always been."

Lafyette Brown, a former Pirates and Braves player, is the only player who had gone to the major leagues after being coached by Hipps. He played college baseball at Savannah State then spent three years in the minor leagues before breaking his ankle. Brown was named Player of the Year in both football and baseball in Newton County in 2002.

Brown will join his former coach in providing instructional lessons in batting and pitching.

"My first year playing baseball was with (Hipps)," said Brown, who is also godson to Hipps.

"His mama brought him to me one day and he didn’t see her for a week," Hipps fondly recalled. "She would come by every day and ask if he was ready to come home and he would say no."

Hipps plans to stage summer camps and possibly add full baseball and softball fields. For now, appointments can be made with Hipps for private training. The facility will also be available to rent for birthday parties

"Baseball is a cerebral sport," said Brown. "It’s hard to focus on what you are doing when there is so much going on. With this facility, when all you got is baseball and softball, there won’t be any distractions."