By JOSH FRYE
News Sports Writer
For the past 13 years, Justin Mixon has taken the field as a member of the coaching staff for J.U. Blacksher’s baseball team, the first six as an assistant to Skip Bell. This year he begins his ninth year as the team’s head coach.
Mixon is a 1999 graduate of Excel High School and a former member of the Excel baseball team. During his time as a player, his love for the game and teaching others grew.
“I love the game of baseball and the kids. Baseball teaches the drive and want to succeed,” Mixon said. “You get to build relationship with the players and help them develop on and off the field. I get the opportunity to help them develop as players and men in life.”
Baseball to Mixon is more than a game, it is a building block of life.
“Baseball is built on failure,” he said. “Failure is always going to happen in baseball games, and you have to learn to adjust to that. It is the same in life. It helps teach you that nothing in life comes easy, and you have to fight through things to reach your goals.”
Mixon takes pride in his role as a mentor to his young players. Confidence is key to building character in the young players and that confidence will carry over on and off the field for his players.
As the 2019 season gets under way, many factors are coming into play. The Bulldogs have a relatively inexperienced team this year and are having to build confidence in players who have not seen very much varsity action.
The Bulldogs lost six seniors in 2017, nine in 2018 and have only four senior starters this season.
“We are not rebuilding but rather working on building player confidence,” he explained. “We have a tough schedule this year and will face our rival Excel. Cottage Hill Christian and Elberta have been added to our schedule as new area teams. It is a new challenge for us.”
The Bulldogs are having to buckle down and develop quickly to reach their goals this season.
“We want to get better and make a good placing in area this season,” the JUB coach said. “Our ultimate goal is to play for the area championship at the end of the season. We have to understand as the season progresses that we cannot set the bar too high or too low. We have to find a median and adjust to things as they are thrown our way.”