YOUTH BASEBALL: Sierra Nevada Elite Baseball Academy offers platform, tools to succeed on the diamond |

YOUTH BASEBALL: Sierra Nevada Elite Baseball Academy offers platform, tools to succeed on the diamond

Enthusiastic young baseball players flocked to the varsity diamond at Nevada Union High School earlier this week, braving the heat, soaking up knowledge and developing their skills at a free camp hosted by the Sierra Nevada Elite Baseball Academy.

“We just wanted to get kids out here, start showing them technique and fundamentals and things like that,” said Justin Deme, the academy’s head of baseball operations.

Around 100 ball players ages 4 and up participated in the two-day camp, getting instruction on everything from throwing mechanics to base running.

“That’s where it’s at — the little kids coming up,” Deme said. “We need to teach them the right things. They get confident, they want to play, they come out and they love it and it sets them on the right track. Get them having fun, learning the game and get them doing the right things from the very beginning to set them up for success later.”

The camp was an introduction of sorts for Sierra Nevada Elite Baseball Academy, formally known as Gold Country Baseball Academy.

“We wanted to get bodies out to see the new ownership, see what we’re doing,” said Jon Simpson, the academy’s CEO of business operations. “We want people to see what (Deme) has to offer on the baseball side of everything. We want people to see what we’re about.”

Sierra Nevada Elite Baseball Academy is a year-round youth baseball organization based in Grass Valley, which offers travel ball teams at multiple age levels as well and other baseball related instruction.

Simpson and Deme took over Gold Country Baseball Academy earlier this year and changed the organization’s name to Sierra Nevada Elite Baseball Academy, or SN Elite. The academy is now gearing up for its first fall ball season under its new leadership.

“The mission is to give kids the right platform and right tools to go on and play at whatever level they want to play at, whether it be high school, college or beyond,” Deme said. “A lot of these kids we talk to that play travel ball, that’s all they want to do is play Major League Baseball, so if they have the tools to do that, put in the work, they can achieve that.”

Simpson praised the work done by the Gold Country Baseball Academy, adding his goal is to keep building on the base it already created.

“We just wanted to make what they already built better,” Simpson said. “We want to build the best platform we can to get kids to go further than high school ball. Give a platform for kids to get looked at after high school. To go to (Division I) schools and top DI schools.”

Simpson added SN Elite isn’t just teaching baseball lessons, but life lessons as well.

“Baseball is a game, it’s a sport, but it has so much more to offer for life,” Simpson said. “The things you learn aren’t strictly for the field. Teamwork, camaraderie are all things you carry with you and can roll with in life.”

Deme, who was a standout athlete at Nevada Union and went on to play college baseball at Sacramento State, said he’s excited about this venture and expects more than 100 participants for the upcoming fall ball season, which begins in August and runs through November.

“We’re here because we love it,” said Deme, who is also an assistant coach on the NU varsity baseball team. “It’s been a tough transition because people don’t know what to expect, but I’m confident that once we get the kids out here and parents start seeing what we provide, I think it’s going to take off even more than it has.”

Sierra Nevada Elite Baseball Academy is located at 11229 McCourtney Road in Grass Valley. To learn more about the academy visit or its Facebook page

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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