Thank you for taking the time to visit our latest blog posting! We at RDP Sports have selected Thomas Lonon, Jr., who is also known as “Coach TJ”. Coach TJ is the founder of the organization Great Day 4 Baseball. After coaching for 15 years with traveling baseball teams, on a middle school level, he knew it was time to start his own organization. Great Day 4 Baseball was founded in 2016. It was something different in the area, and also a way to give back to the community. The name Great Day 4 Baseball originated from Coach TJ quoting to his players, “today is a great day for baseball because EVERY day is a great day for baseball.
“Anytime you have the opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on Earth.”
- Robert Clemente
What motivates you to go out and coach your players? “I enjoy seeing the kids every day.” “I love watching them perform, and also seeing them get better.” “The process that we’re teaching with discipline, teamwork, and the daily grind of baseball can be used on the field and also with their daily life skills, explained Coach TJ.” As a former standout player at South Effingham High School and Savannah State University, Coach TJ is able to share his experience with his players, on how to get to the next level. That is why his organization preaches education. When asked about some of the policies his organization implements, Coach TJ said, “If they’re not getting their grades and not passing their classes, they don’t get to play.” “Also, if they are being disrespectful and acting out with their parents, they don’t get to practice or play.” “We also have Coach Mobley, who has a reading program that the kids participate in.” Coach TJ is also involved in the 100 Black Men Mentorship Program and volunteers as a mentor in the Chatham and Effingham school systems; this is another way to help the kids advance in life.
“Baseball is great, but education is first.”
- Coach TJ
Great Day 4 Baseball really understands the importance of parent involvement and how it has a huge impact on the kids. Once a kid sees their parents are being supportive, you tend to see improvement with them on and off the field. The organization is also big on communication. The coaches within the organization want their players to feel comfortable about coming to them when they need advice or help with a situation, and they also want them to be able to communicate with their parents as well. Coach TJ and his coaches are focusing on training young men and not just ball players. As long as you are living you’re going to face adversity in life. Coach TJ always expresses to his players, “that failure is going to come in baseball, and also in life.” One of the sayings for this organization is, “when you are dealing with adversity, keep showing up!” Meaning, “keep going to the plate, and keep taking your swings.” “You’re going to miss a swing every now and then, you’re going to miss a pitch, but sooner or later you’re going to connect.” “As young men you have to understand that if you can’t deal with failure, you’re not going to be able to play the game of life very long.” “You have to learn from your mistakes and just keep growing and developing”, says, Coach TJ!
It makes him feel great seeing his players become successful in life. “Nothing else is better than having a kid call and say, “hey coach, I made the middle school team”, or “hey coach, I got all As and Bs.” It really makes us feel like we’re doing the right thing with mentoring the kids, this is what makes the program so successful”, explained Coach TJ.
When asked who inspires you, Coach TJ mentioned his father, Thomas Lonon, Sr. “He’s always taught us to work hard for everything you need and want. “It’s not going to be easy, keep working and sooner or later you will have some success.” “Learn from your failures, grow from your failures, and develop from your failures.” “Nothing is going to happen overnight.” “If you’re not going to do something to effect the community, then what are you here for?” “Life should be based on service, says, Coach TJ.”
So, who is Coach TJ? “I don’t really like talking about myself, but I’d say im a country boy, I love God, my family and friends, and baseball. “just a country boy trying to survive.” I’m humble and thankful that God has allowed me the opportunity to mentor these kids.”
Even with all the success and accolades that Coach TJ has received, he remains humble and appreciative. He ended his interview by acknowledging those who helped make his program a success.
"I would like to thank some key mentors who make the program possible: My parents, Thomas and Nellar Lonon: brother and sister-in-law, Raysha and Kendra Lonon: cousins, Terry McCoy and Nathaniel Scott: Great Day 4 Baseball coaches Willie Gardner, Djuan Tinsley, Jason Rockwell, James Mobley, Marlon Cruver, Mike Jones, Tyreik Douse, Jonathan Schwartzfisher, and Kevin Archer. Also thank you to Herman and Erica Washington for their guidance."
"Also I would like to thank the local organizations that trust their student-athletes to play for our Great Day 4 Baseball program: Savannah Stars, Savannah Pitbulls, Frank Callen Boys and Girls Club, and the Westside Whippers."
"Last but definitely not least, a big thank you to all our Great Day parents and players who believe and trust in the process!!"
"Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome."
- Booker T. Washington