South Walton Athletics and Training Center is a Great Addition to the Community
My family moved from southeastern Wisconsin to SoWal about 5 years ago and for the most part, it’s been fantastic. The weather, beaches and overall quality of life here on Florida’s Emerald Coast is fantastic. However, the lack of indoor sports training facilities and overall fun things for kids to do in South Walton was something we really missed after relocating. Just about every city up north has some type of decent indoor sports and fitness facility where kids and adults can enhance their physical skills. Maybe that’s because it’s cold 65% of the time but who knows…
My point is that until Tracy Wilmes opened South Walton Athletics and Training Center in Santa Rosa Beach, there really were no good indoor options along the 30A corridor for young athletes to refine their skills.
Thanks to Tracy that problem is now officially solved. We recently had the pleasure of speaking with him about his motivation for starting SoWal Athletics and Training Center and his goals for it going forward. Parents with young kids looking to become better athletes should take time to check out what Tracy has cooking over in Santa Rosa Beach…
30A Prime’s Conversation with SoWal Athletics and Training Center owner Tracy Wilmes in Santa Rosa Beach, FL
30A Prime: First of all Tracy, thanks for taking time to talk with us. Please tell us about yourself and about SoWal Athletics & Training Center.
Tracy: I’m the owner of South Walton Athletics and Training Center here in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. In addition, I’m also a coach and private instructor. I coach private ball, girls softball as well as boys baseball.
30A Prime: How long have you been a coach?
Tracy: I’ve been coaching for about 26 years from the varsity level all the way down to youth sports.
30A Prime: How did South Walton Athletics and Training Center come to be a reality?
Tracy: We recently moved to South Walton County and discovered there’s a lot of good talent in the area. There are many fantastic athletes right here in this part of Florida. However, we noticed there was nothing here for girls sports and that’s our heartbeat right there. So we had this opportunity to open a facility where we could do private training inside to avoid any bad weather and we jumped on it. I do year-round training for both boys and girls and you know, things just kind of lined up perfectly for that.
We work with many young athletes and we always begin the process with a quick assessment. If we’re talking softball or baseball… We’ll get them on the tee a little bit or if they’re going to pitch we have a mound to throw off of and from that initial assessment, we can better decide what kind of a program we want to design for that particular athlete. If we have an athlete that is a little further along in their pitching development there are little things that we can tweak to make them even stronger, faster and more accurate.
30A Prime: Tell us more about how video critiques help athletes develop their skills.
Tracy: Video critiques help the athletes see what us coaches are talking about in regards to little things they can do to get better. So often you’ll hear coaches say “keep your hands back” or “you need to follow through” or “you need to lean this way when you make a cut”… But when we actually set down and watch the video together, the athlete can see immediately what we’re working on and what we’re trying to emphasize.
30A Prime: My guess is that this type of training is a big confidence booster in many ways for the kids. Is that an accurate assumption?
Tracy: We want the kids to feel empowered and confident that they can actually hit a ball, throw a ball, catch a ball and run faster. Overall, just get bigger, stronger, quicker and be more athletic. Our biggest thing is that we want to help them get off the bench and into the game. Helping kids improve their swing and work on their discipline gives them that edge to actually be effective out on the field and not be at the bottom of the lineup or sitting the bench.
30A Prime: Please tell us about private training options here at South Walton Athletics and Training Center.
Tracy: We do a lot of private team training and individual training here at SoWal Athletics Center. The best thing always is to give us a call and find out when we can work you in. Most kids don’t want to step in with 12 to 15 Tee-ballers in here and I get that you know because that does get a little hectic. So for new athletes to our program, we choose a start day and time when it will be just them and we can really focus on their specific needs. Many of the kids are a little insecure and nervous when they first start out so I would not want to put them in a situation where there are 14 boys here running around when the new kid is just starting the program because it can be overwhelming. We tailor not just the time slot but the program as well for the individuals and their talents.
30A Prime: What do you want kids to ultimately get from your coaching and training here at SoWal Athletics Center?
Tracy: You know… We want the kids to be productive on the field but it’s also about being productive in life. All of our critical thinking skills, the hierarchy of what we’re doing, we want the kids to be able to take that knowledge out to the fields and give them the confidence they need to succeed in everything. Their chest sticks up, their chin is out, and now they are part of an organization, part of a community so their self-esteem just grows.
We want the girls to be able to come here and take all of their skills and when they advance outside of softball, soccer or whatever sport to feel confident in what they are doing. We want that to then equate into real life whether that be their job or whatever. In the real world, you have to work in teams, you have to work with groups, you have to have commitments. So all of those things we piggyback in with our South Walton Athletics and Training Center program.