April 1, 2014 10:00
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Sports facility flourishes in Erath, thanks to the head of one of Acadiana's largest companies

 

It's just a ball game. Just a sport. Just a field. But for families like the Toups of Erath sports are much more. They are a way of life.

And thanks to the efforts of one local businessman the three Toups boys are able to practically play ball in their own backyard and at a facility rarely found in cities twice the size of Erath.

Quality Sports Authority & RV Park is a 40-acre spread in the small town south of Lafayette with baseball, soccer and football fields, an RV complex with pavilions and 44 sites for travelers to stay.

And it's all privately funded.

"The facility is well run, and it's beautiful and it's close to our schools. It draws in a crowd of family-friendly patrons," Carl Toups says.

The facility came to fruition thanks to the generosity of Nathan Granger, a co-founder of Quality Companies, one of the largest privately held businesses in

Acadiana. Granger made it his mission to create a place in his hometown for kids like the Toups. And his own children.

"I've traveled with my [two] older boys over the years and seeing the people and the economic development with these tournaments and thought, Why not

Erath?' and I knew we weren't going to get any tax money or government funding," Granger says.

He put up much of the funding himself and also was helped with sponsorships and other donations. Granger, along with Tommy Picard and his son Jeremy (both of whom had extensive experience in recreation and select sports), formed the nonprofit. They purchased a 40-acre parcel of land that for three years has been home to many tournaments, games and much more that has drawn thousands of spectators. And that much more is something you can't put a price tag on. Something that can't be measured by a score board.

"We began with a dream and we built it," Granger says. "It's actually been better than our wildest dreams."

They are booked every weekend from now till August with tournaments, and plans are under way for a 20,000-square-foot indoor facility.

"You always hope when you're giving that it's encouraging other people to give also. Anything we can do to keep our kids involved in something that's productive and not getting in trouble or having the time to get in trouble is what we're all supposed to be doing for our children," Granger says.

Granger and his wife, Dana, have five children ranging in age from 18 months to 17 years. Their two older sons (Mason is 14 and Ross 17) play on Team LA baseball teams at QSA and work at the facility.

"We hire as many of the local kids as possible in the summer months and let them earn a little extra money," Granger says.

 
Mark Chestnut  

Sports teaches his boys much, the former baseball player (he also was on the UL Lafayette football team's practice squad from 1987-1988) says, attributing a significant portion of his current lot in life to the lessons he learned in the small baseball diamonds of Erath years ago.

"Most of my success I can attribute to competing on athletic fields - the value of hard work and learning that you only get something out from what you've put in it. I'm a big proponent of exhausting all your talent and not just getting by," Granger says.

His hope is that QSA becomes the place where local kids are exhausting their own talents, finding the value in working hard.

"We've developed a place that's good for recreational sport and that's fun for kids to do and we also have a place for kids to develop to the highest level. Not just the next level. The highest level. We've had several college commitments from kids playing on our travel teams," Granger says.

3,000 people gathered for QSA's fundraiser featuring
Mark Chestnut

Before year's end he hopes to add to that fold. The new indoor facility will house a gymnasium with indoor batting cages, basketball courts and volleyball courts. And QSA just wrapped up a successful fundraiser with more than 3,000 people coming out for a Mark Chestnut concert.

"This has absolutely been worth it," Granger says of the time and effort devoted. "I'm a big proponent of giving back. I've been very blessed and just doing what I think God wants me to do and sharing my blessings."

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