“Baseball is the only place in life where a sacrifice is really appreciated.” –Author Unknown
Edward Waters and Trent Phillips, founders of Georgia Stars Baseball, are quite different in temperament. Waters (GM and Head Coach), a native of Chicago, cannot help but display his unbridled enthusiasm for life and heartfelt concern for others. Trent Phillips (President and Business Manager) of Raleigh, North Carolina is somewhat reserved and expresses himself in calm and measured tones. But there is no difference in both men’s commitment to young athletes. Through GSB, they are making real differences in the lives of countless youths.
First and Foremost, Outstanding Fathers
Waters and Phillips have proven themselves time and again in sports. Waters spent 18 years as a professional baseball player, including six seasons between MLB’s Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers. He is currently a scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates and provides private instruction to numerous young athletes across the South. Phillips was a four-sport high school standout (lettering in baseball, football, basketball, and track). After suffering a serious leg injury his senior high school year, he nevertheless recuperated and ran track for three years at East Carolina University. He currently runs his own web design firm he founded 14 years ago.
But these men do not count their athletic feats as their greatest accomplishments. Both view their roles as fathers as being their greatest blessings and highest achievements. Among Waters’ children are a couple of GSB stars (one of whom having just committed to play baseball at Division I Alabama State University), a daughter attending Tuskegee University on a track scholarship, and another son training to become a U.S. Navy Seal. As for Phillips, both his sons are GSB standouts, with his oldest (just 16) already being scouted by several Division I college baseball programs.
But Waters and Phillips will quickly tell you that their own and their children’s sports achievements are simply the natural results of several key traits – self-esteem, a positive attitude, a strong work ethic, discipline, and, of course, heart. These are also the traits that good fathers pass to their children.
Founding Georgia Stars Baseball
The formation of Georgia Stars Baseball was set in motion almost two decades ago. As a rookie pro, Waters met the legendary Hank Aaron, who planted a seed in Waters’ mind. “Hank Aaron reminded me, ‘you know you are not going to be able to play baseball forever. You need to think about what you’re going to do when your playing career ends.’” Waters has never forgotten those words.
Waters and Phillips became friends as a result of Waters providing batting instruction to Phillips’ sons. “He was the first person I ever met who knew more about batting than I did,” notes Phillips. Perhaps recognizing the complementary nature of their personalities, Waters approached Phillips about running a league of their own. Waters knew he had the baseball knowledge, but needed someone to handle the business side. Phillips agreed to give it a go. To this day, unlike many coaches of elite youth teams, neither man has taken a dime for operating GSB.
Starting by fielding just one team (currently, GSB fields eight teams and soon will move to 12), Waters and Phillips placed their emphasis on teaching basic baseball skills. (Waters sadly acknowledges that he sees many high school players who have never been properly taught the most basic of skills.) And, just as important, they emphasized the same traits they emphasized in their roles as fathers. And their system has not changed since day one.
Quick Success and Growth
Since its inception, Georgia Stars Baseball has provided instruction at the highest level. Some teams hold national rankings. Players are trained to be standouts at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. Waters (in a matter-of-fact but not boastful tone) notes, “I have put 38 guys in major league baseball with my training – more than that in Division I college baseball.”
GSB’s reputation has brought much growth. It fields teams in 17U, 16U, 15U, 13U, 12UAAA, 12UAA, 9U, and Lady Stars 14U. It has added more quality coaches as well. Another Head Coach, Pascanel Ferreras, has played AA baseball in the Dominican Republic, St. Maarten, and Atlanta. And GSB has two pitching coaches, Clint Conley (another four-sport high school athlete with a collegiate career – and also co-publisher of Sports Gwinnett), and John Delk, a two-sport high school athlete who has coached baseball for the past 12 years.
A major component of GSB is the notion of giving back. All GSB players and coaches participate in community outreach programs. GSB works closely with the Brian Jordan Foundation, YMCA, Atlanta Braves Baseball Academy, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Says Phillips, “these kids need to learn that life is more than just about themselves. . . We’re teaching much more than baseball – we’re teaching good citizenship.”
Forming Responsible Adults
Waters sums up Georgia Stars Baseball in a simple and straightforward manner. “We love our kids. We teach them to become better citizens. We put God first. And we’ll accept anybody. We don’t turn away anyone because of [a lack of] money. If a kid can make our teams, we’ll come out of our pockets to make sure he plays. We’re teaching them to become good men and women – it’s as simple as that. If you can get them here, we’ll get them ready.”
To learn more about Georgia Stars Baseball, please visit www.georgiastars.com.
by Reg L. Carver
Reg L. Carver is a writer and designer in Johns Creek, Georgia. You can find him at www.reglcarver.com.
photography by KATE AWTREY