To Team Elite, It’s Not Good Enough to Excel in Just One Area
Team Elite General Manager Brad Bouras feels a travel baseball organization can be defined by their success in three areas.
An organization can be one of the best based on their on-field success, the championships they have won, and how full their trophy case is. Others do not worry about going to tournaments; their focus is squarely on training and development, improving a player’s performance, and enhancing a skillset. And a third group pours all efforts into exposure, having a singular focus on getting kids to sign with colleges and universities.
But to Team Elite, it’s not good enough to excel in just one area.
“We try to diversify ourselves and cover it all,” Bouras, the owner of Team Elite said. “We’ve always targeted being a well-rounded program. We try to appeal to those three areas.”
Over the past 12 years, Bouras and Team Elite have evolved into a program that does a bit of everything.
In 2003, following his third season in the Chicago Cubs organization, Bouras was at a crossroads in his career. The Cubs had released the first baseman from Columbus State University and he wasn’t sure what to do.
“I didn't know whether to go back and do the baseball stuff, pursue lessons, or start an academy, or start teams,” Bouras, a native of Lilburn Georgia said. “I was six classes away from my degree and didn't know if I should just go get a degree and get a regular 9-to-5 job.”
Bouras took one last swing at professional baseball, playing with the Lincoln Saltdogs of the Northern League, but three months into the season the passion to pursuit being a big leaguer was no longer there. Bouras returned to home, not yet wanting to turn his back on baseball, and continued to do what he had done the prior four years: lessons, lessons and more lessons.
“For five or six months of the year, when I wasn't playing, I'd come home and immediately do 30, 40 even 50 hours of lessons a week. I just loved it.”
In January of 2005, Bouras helped start the Georgia Sports Academy, creating a centralized location for the players and pupils he instructed year after year. As the instruction of those players continued it became clear to Bouras, and those around him, what was next for him in baseball.
“What I realized, for all of the lessons I did for over four years before that, all of those 11-year-olds became 15-year-olds, all of the 12-year-olds became 16-year-olds. I really didn't realize until I started my academy and we started lessons and camps, all of my guys we were working with said you have to do teams.”
It was fortuitous timing for Bouras. He believes the travel baseball world exploded in the summer of 2005, with Perfect Game taking over Atlanta and his players and eventual team being in the heart of it all.
“I started Team Elite, the idea was from all of the kids and parents asking us to. They loved the way we did lessons and instructions. We said, heck, let's go out and get these kids signed now because we already had been training them for 3-4 years, when I was doing my lessons.”
Team Elite started with a 17-year-old and 18-year-old team in the summer of 2005. That fall, the number of teams doubled to four, needing another year to reach eight. Two years into it, Bouras had Team Elite fielding 16 teams. But the expansion of Team Elite wasn’t to outfit a team at every age group just to have a team or to boast about how many players they have in the organization. Getting back to Bouras’ love for lessons, the desire to include as many as possible in the practices. Lessons and training led to Team Elite’s growth, which Bouras credits to a dedicated managerial staff.
“We tried to expand with the purpose of reaching out and giving opportunities for practices and workouts, I couldn't do that without our Team Elite staff.” Bouras said, as Team Elite now operates a Team Elite South, based out of Albany Georgia that reaches into Florida, and a Team Elite West, that is based out of Columbus, Georgia and reaches parts of Alabama.
“That's why we created the different area type teams because we do love to train the kids and practice. Some teams just show up for tournaments in the travel ball world, but we love to train our guys, we really stress the training part of it, that's why we've expanded to different areas.”
Through the training and development, Team Elite has produced some of the finest players in southeastern United States. Be it NAIA schools, junior colleges, or universities from Division III to Division I, more than 800 players have signed with a college over Team Elite’s existence. And though relatively young in the travel baseball world, run through a top prospect list, and it won’t take long to find a Team Elite alum with the likes of Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows, Bryce Denton, Nolan Jones and Max Pentecost.
With the ability to develop talent and put players in high-exposure situations, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Team Elite can rack up hardware with the best of them.
In 2016 alone, Team Elite won Perfect Game’s 18U BCS Title and finished runners-up in Perfect Game’s World Wood Bat Association World Championship.
“We've won our fair share of championships, we've won big events and made great runs at world championships. But we don't want Team Elite to be a team that just goes out and wins. We try to be as well-rounded of a program as we can possibly be.”
A love for development, a desire to find a next-level home for a player and an organization that wins. Check all three boxes for Team Elite.
“That's what I'd love for people to think of Team Elite as, we can cover it all.”