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Gametime Sports & Awards grew from love of sports

Debra McCown • Dec 10, 2012 at 11:57 AM

Gametime Sports & Awards, which will celebrate its two-year anniversary in January, was born in the love of sports.

"We do team sports equipment and apparel, uniforms, things like that," said Brian Malone, who operates the store, which is located half a mile from Exit 59 toward Johnson City on Fort Henry Drive. "We offer screen printing and embroidery services."

Malone and store owner Travis Leming created the business out of their longtime involvement with local and regional youth sports. Both run events for the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA), which Malone said is "the largest multi-sport organization in the world."

Leming is state director of boys’ baseball for the organization, and Malone is the state director of girls’ fast-pitch softball. It was through their USSSA involvement that they met and went into business.

"We ran USSSA tournament events for girls’ fast-pitch and boys’ baseball in the Tri-Cities and Knoxville, and we sold some merchandise at events," Malone said. "People said, ‘Why don’t you open a store to sell uniforms?’ and so we opened a store to benefit those who we already had as customers through our tournaments."

The tournaments he’s talking about aren’t just recreational events; they’re for athletes ages 8 to 18 who are serious about their sport. Part of the purpose of the travel teams that play in these tournaments is to expose them to the kind of stiff competition that will enable them to hone their skills in hopes of eventually landing a college scholarship.

Malone said he and Leming have both been involved with USSSA for a decade and both began coaching youth sports long before that.

"I just played baseball growing up, so I always loved it," said Malone, who grew up in Kingsport and graduated from Sullivan North High School in 1991. "I just wanted to teach kids to learn and love the same game that I did."

He said he was coaching boys’ baseball in a tournament 10 years ago when he started running tournaments for Leming.

When they started selling merchandise to the teams that were playing in their tournaments, their customers wanted a place to order everything for their teams - and have more options for equipment and uniforms. So two years ago, they opened Gametime Sports & Awards.

In that time, Malone said, the business has grown to four full-time employees and has expanded beyond its initial sports-focused mission.

In addition to team sports equipment, uniforms and apparel, the store now does screen printing and embroidery for business and nonprofits and produces marketing materials like business-logo pens and mugs. They also do vinyl lettering, direct-to-garment printing, and a variety of trophies and awards for sports and business.

The shop has a graphic designer on staff and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. The phone number is 423-406-1440.

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