Brad Cheatham gives a closer look at Hartselle's Encore
Nick Johnston, Hartselle Enquirer
It all started in 1994 for Brad Cheatham.
Cheatham, a Hartselle High School and Lambuth University graduate, was in charge of Encore's sports medicine program. A program non-existent before he arrived.
In 1994, Encore took care of three high schools in Morgan County. Now, Encore provides services to all Morgan and Limestone County schools except two, and has started providing services for Lawrence County schools.
Cheatham could be considered the backbone.
"The main part of my job is taking care of high school athletes," Cheatham said.
Cheatham's official position with Encore is Director of Sports Medicine, but with the opening of Encore's Sports Enhancement Center in Hartselle, he is also the Director of Hartselle's Baseball and Softball Academy.
Located in the Hartselle
See CHEATHAM, B-2
Plaza Shopping Center, the S.E.C. offers programs that have been designed by former professional athletes, coaches and athletic trainers.
"We mainly do hitting and pitching out of this facility," Cheatham said. "The main difference between us and others, not only do you come in to learn how to hit and how to pitch, but, since we are in the sports medicine business, really, we're going to do a lot more teaching. We're go to teach the exercises you need to do to take care of your body according to how you play, and the exercises you need to do to get in shape to be able to throw a baseball and pitch."
Several packages and membership options are available for both baseball and softball. See to the right for those prices.
Cheatham has experienced trainers, players and coaches at his side, like T.J. Orr.
Orr, an assistant coach at The University of Alabama-Huntsville, will be the main pitching and hitting instructor for baseball.
Orr has spent nine years coaching in the amateur ranks, and nine of his former players have been selected in the Major League Baseball draft.
On the softball side, Robin Hodges, assistant softball coach at Hartselle High School, is the pitching instructor, while head coach Shane Alexander is the hitting instructor.
But before any instructing can be done, Cheatham said evaluations are the first step.
"We're going to evaluate their strength, hitting or pitching, whatever direction the athlete is wanting to go in," he said. "After the evaluation, as athletic trainers, we come in and find out their weaknesses – Do they have a weak rotator cuff? Is it a core strength weakness? Is it a legs weakness? We really focus on that, but at the same time we go ahead and work on overall strength and work on a lot of balance."
In fact, balance has become more important than ever.
"It's proven, a lot of baseball hitting and pitching, as well as softball hitting and pitching, is mainly balance – balance and technique."
Cheatham said the importance of balance was stressed to him by David Yeager, the performance enhancement coach at Decatur's Encore.
Yeager specializes in prescribing exercise programs for conditioning, performance enhancement and rehabilitation, among other things. He has collegiate, professional and Olympic experience to offer.
"I've learned more from him than anybody," Cheatham said. "A lot of the stuff we are doing here, we started doing it one way, and he came in and changed a few things. The more balanced the body is, the better it will flow in whatever sport you are in."
Encore's Sports Enhancement Center in Hartselle can be reached at 773-5117 or 309-5929.