Our History..and Journey

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Bob Laurent is the founding partner of The Hitting Center (THC) team.  In 1993, as a senior partner in a computer consulting company, Bob was approached by friend and former Major League baseball player Tim Hulett to “assist him” with the business end of his batting cage business, Hulett’s Hitting Center.  With over 13 years of bus ministry experience, Bob quickly identified the connection that athletics can have in mentoring children and families.  After Tim moved to Louisiana, Bob was encouraged to continue the business.   Once again he brought his business and project management experience to the table bringing together the mentor, volunteer and community involvement model currently in place today.   Ministry to children and families was always a part of The Hitting Center even when it was a for-profit enterprise.  In 2004 as part of a God-directed and strategic plan, Bob elected to donate the business to Calvary Church to continue and enhance the ministry component of the THC team.  Today Bob serves as the volunteer Co-Director of The Hitting Center program along with serving on multiple community boards including the Capital Area Sports Commission, Fellowship of Christian Athletes Leadership board (past board member), Land of Lincoln Junior Olympic Softball board in addition to being an adviser to many other community sports organizations.   In the 2011-2012 season he assisted the University of Illinois in Springfield (UIS) softball team as a volunteer coach and later served as Head Assistant coach before retiring in 2015.  In May of 2019 he "came out of retirement" as is currently serving as a volunteer assistant coach assisting the Robert Morris University in Springfield softball program.  He continues to assist many of the High School and College programs throughout the area.

 

  Greg Brown has been with the THC team since its inception.   In 2005 he followed his calling and became full time facility and operations manager for The Hitting Center.  Prior to this move, Greg was a successful professional recruiter, business consultant and Dale Carnegie trainer.  Having pitched briefly in the Chicago Cubs organization in his younger years, he understood the value that healthy mentorship plays in developing young adults.   As an accomplished instructor and teacher, Greg quickly and efficiently applied business mentorship and development concepts into athletic and coaching development.  His strong calling to prayer and personal relationship ministry can be directly attributed to the success and longevity of the Hitting Center.

 

 Jackie Laurent serves as the volunteer Co-Director of The Hitting Center program.  She brings years of organizational and business office experience in developing the support and volunteer staffing components of the Hitting Center.  The  Hitting Center functions as a state-of-the-art indoor training facility administratively supporting the over 20 full-time, part-time and volunteer resources necessary to address the over 4,000 private lessons that are provided annually.   Her experience of over 13 years of bus ministry with her husband and founding partner, Bob Laurent, along with vast experience in being a "baseball and softball mom" bring a unique perspective to the parents and more specifically the moms' of the student athletes seeking to find a healthy balance and understanding of athletics.

 


Phil Laurent has been a lifelong member of the THC team and recently retired from Professional Baseball after a stellar collegiate and professional career.  Dedicating himself to Christian Education, he attended Calvary Academy from K-12 then accepted a baseball scholarship at Liberty University where he graduated with honors and athletically still holds many of the single season and career records.  Phil truly represents the fruit of the THC vision and ministry.

 

Protestant logo

 The Calvary Protestant Church Softball league, part of the Calvary Church Sports Ministries, was founded by Bob Laurent in 1990.  This unique ministry was formed through a need for providing God and family balances within athletics, not only in the community but within his own life.  To provide accountability to this ministry, by-laws were developed encouraging churches to reach out to athletes within their congregations and community while providing accountability to their representative church through code of conduct and attendance requirements to be eligible to play.  Many men point to this ministry as their introduction to Christ and healthy stewardship as husbands and fathers. 

 


Bob Laurent is the founding partner of The Hitting Center (THC) team.  In 1993, as a senior partner in a computer consulting company, Bob was approached by friend and former Major League baseball player Tim Hulett to “assist him” with the business end of his batting cage business, Hulett’s Hitting Center.  With over 13 years of bus ministry experience, Bob quickly identified the connection that athletics can have in mentoring children and families.  After Tim moved to Louisiana, Bob was encouraged to continue the business.   Once again he brought his business and project management experience to the table bringing together the mentor, volunteer and community involvement model currently in place today.   Ministry to children and families was always a part of The Hitting Center even when it was a for-profit enterprise.  In 2004 as part of a God-directed and strategic plan, Bob elected to donate the business to Calvary Church to continue and enhance the ministry component of the THC team.  Today Bob serves as the volunteer Co-Director of The Hitting Center program along with serving on multiple community boards including the Capital Area Sports Commission, Fellowship of Christian Athletes Leadership board, Land of Lincoln Junior Olympic Softball board in addition to being an adviser to many other community sports organizations.   In the 2011-2012 season he assisted the University of Illinois in Springfield (UIS) softball team as a volunteer coach and later served as Head Assistant coach before retiring in 2015.  In June of 2019 he "came out of retirement" to serve as a volunteer assistance with the Robert Morris University Springfield softball program.  He also continues to assist many of the High School and College programs throughout the area.

 

Summary of Qualifications

 

Possesses over 25 years of softball and baseball player development experience. Actively involved in every facet of softball and baseball development.  Involvement has included competing, coaching, and most importantly mentoring hundreds of student athletes, many of which have gone on to compete at the college and professional ranks.  Several of his students have served or are actively serving as college, high school and area coaches.

·     Founder of the Hitting Center Organization in 1993 providing softball and baseball development to student athletes throughout Central Illinois.

·     Serves as a member of the Capital Area Sports Commission.

·     Served on State of Illinois Fellowship of Christian Athletes advisory board.

·     Serves on Land of Lincoln Junior Olympic Softball board.

·     Served as past president of the Protestant Church Softball League of Springfield

·     Competed in state and national men’s softball tournaments from 1979 to 1998 before retiring to coach summer baseball programs.

 

Coaching Highlights

 

Assistant College Softball Coach - Player Development DIrector                                                           

          2012-Current

 


Robert Morris University – Springfield,  
 Springfield, Illinois           2018-Current

Serving as Director of Player Development and Volunteer Head Assistant Coach.  Assisting the athletic program and Head Coach McClaughry in integrating team and individual softball player development concepts in preparing student-athletes for progressive levels of collegiate competition.

 

University of Illinois – Springfield,   Springfield, Illinois                   2012-2016

Served four seasons as Head Assistant coach under a quality NCAA Division II women's softball intercollegiate athletic program in the Great Lakes Valley Conference focusing on offensive player development.  Was instrumental in the turnaround of the UIS program during the 2012 season which also ranked as one of the top NCAA turnaround programs in the nation.  UIS garnished a GLVC West Division Championship, participated in their 1st GLVC Conference Tournament Appearance (reaching the title game), awarded at-large bid to the NCAA Midwest Regional (once again reaching the title game).  First ever UIS team to reach Conference Tournament title game and to participate in NCAA regionals.

 As hitting coach, Coach Laurent guided the 2012 season offense to rewriting the school's offensive record books as the squad posted school records for team runs scored (263), runs batted in (220) and home runs (33).  UIS continually ranked in the top of the GLVC in hitting during his tenure at UIS before “retiring” in 2016.

Volunteer Assistant Baseball Coach

Calvary Academy - Springfield,  Springfield, Illinois

        1996-2001

 

 

  Greg Brown has been with the THC team since its inception.   In 2005 he followed his calling and became full time facility and operations manager for The Hitting Center.  Prior to this move, Greg was a successful professional recruiter, business consultant and Dale Carnegie trainer.  Having pitched briefly in the Chicago Cubs organization in his younger years, he understood the value that healthy mentorship plays in developing young adults.   As an accomplished instructor and teacher, Greg quickly and efficiently applied business mentorship and development concepts into athletic and coaching development.  His strong calling to prayer and personal relationship ministry can be directly attributed to the success and longevity of the Hitting Center.

 

 Jackie Laurent serves as the volunteer Co-Director of The Hitting Center program.  She brings years of organizational and business office experience in developing the support and volunteer staffing components of the Hitting Center.  The  Hitting Center functions as a state-of-the-art indoor training facility administratively supporting the over 20 full-time, part-time and volunteer resources necessary to address the over 4,000 private lessons that are provided annually.   Her experience of over 13 years of bus ministry with her husband and founding partner, Bob Laurent, along with vast experience in being a "baseball and softball mom" bring a unique perspective to the parents and more specifically the moms' of the student athletes seeking to find a healthy balance and understanding of athletics.

 


Phil Laurent has been a lifelong member of the THC team and recently retired from Professional Baseball after a stellar collegiate and professional career.  Dedicating himself to Christian Education, he attended Calvary Academy from K-12 then accepted a baseball scholarship at Liberty University where he graduated with honors and athletically still holds many of the single season and career records.  Phil truly represents the fruit of the THC vision and ministry.

 

Protestant logo

 The Calvary Protestant Church Softball league, part of the Calvary Church Sports Ministries, was founded by Bob Laurent in 1990.  This unique ministry was formed through a need for providing God and family balances within athletics, not only in the community but within his own life.  To provide accountability to this ministry, by-laws were developed encouraging churches to reach out to athletes within their congregations and community while providing accountability to their representative church through code of conduct and attendance requirements to be eligible to play.  Many men point to this ministry as their introduction to Christ and healthy stewardship as husbands and fathers.