Two of the most recognizable sports organizations in the Brandon area have joined forces.
Last month, Chuck Burgess — executive director of the Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center — announced a new partnership with the Saladino Baseball Academy.
“It’s a match made in heaven,” said Tony Saladino III, director of the baseball academy.
The Saladino Baseball Academy will move its base of operations out of South Brandon Little League and into sports and aquatic center, which has recently added team sports to its repertoire of athletic offerings that has long been highlighted by swimming and tennis.
“When I arrived here in 2008, I noticed most of our activities were individual-driven,” Burgess said. Earlier this year, the center announced the addition of the Strikers Pride Soccer Academy. “I felt like team sports was something that was needed, and baseball is obviously huge in the area.”
The Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center is in its 50th year in the community. Meanwhile, the Saladino name is synonymous with top-notch prep baseball in the area thanks to the Saladino Tournament, operated by Tony Saladino Jr. Since its inception in 1981, the high school baseball tournament has become one of the most prestigious events of its kind.
“They have 50 years of experience in the kids’ sports business and, when you combine that with what my dad has done with the baseball tournament for more than 30 years, it’s a great fit,” Saladino III said.
Burgess said he and Saladino III, who operates the baseball academy with Donny Scolaro, first spoke about merging in January.
“We talked about our philosophy and our goals, and we found that a lot of them matched up,” Burgess said. “They’re all about impacting young men and women’s lives in a positive way. It’s a really good fit.”
“They’re a professional, well-organized machine,” Saladino III said.
The Saladino Academy was established in 2008 and offers baseball and softball instruction for players ages 3 through 12.
Construction on two fields — one each for 12 and under and 10 and under players — an indoor batting cage, and a pitching station is set to begin in mid-May and be finished in time for the Saladino summer camp starting June 10. This year’s camp will include instruction from Durant High baseball coach Butch Valdes and Brandon High baseball coach Matt Stallbaumer.
Work on an outdoor batting cage is scheduled to be completed by the end of the summer, and an additional 12 and under field will eventually be added.
For more information on the Saladino Baseball Academy’s new home, call (813) 689-0908 or visit www.mybsac.org or www.saladinobaseballacademy.com.