Man of many hats

Jody Babineaux commands troops overseas, ballplayers at home

When Laurel Middle School baseball players say it feels like they are being coached by a military drill sergeant, they are not kidding.

For the past 17 years, Jody Babineaux has served in the U.S. military, and he’s also roamed the sidelines coaching baseball in the Laurel School District since 2013.

“The duties of the military and coaching are similar in the fact that they both require focus, dedication and self-discipline,” Babineaux said. “It is not tough at all to correlate the two because both have a significance of displaying unity. I practice players with structure and organization to develop a system of skills and talents to get the ultimate job done.”

That structure was born out of Babineaux’s life as a foster child. He went into foster care at age 13 and, upon graduating from high school, he had reached the foster-care age limit. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps because “it was the hardest military branch.”

“I figured, ‘why not serve my country while earning benefits what would improve my life?’” he said. “The USMC was a great for me because it provided me with discipline I needed as a young adult. While serving in the USMC I learned core values such as honor, courage, commitment which became valuable in helping make decisions in my life.

Over his career, he has served in the Marines, Marine Corps Reserves, Air Force Reserves, Mississippi National Guard and Army Reserves. In November, he was promoted to company commander of the 831st Transportation Battalion headquarters Bahrain.

He is currently stationed in the Middle East and is expected to be home in late spring or summer. While overseas, Babineaux is company commander and is responsible for maintaining the readiness, health, welfare, morale and discipline of 20 soldiers, including all battalion staff sections.

He is responsible for the development and execution of training programs ensuring operational readiness of the battalion staff’s ability to support units’ missions that are located in places such as Afghanistan, United Arabs Emirates and Qatar.

“In addition to my duties as a company commander, I serve as the Bahrain Detachment Commander, Contracting Representative Officer Team Leader of the Deployment and Distribution Support Team, Master Resilience Trainer and College Instructor at the Central Texas College,” he said.

He said being away for long periods of time has gotten easier over the years.

“In my earlier years of serving, it was challenging being away for a long periods of time, but as the years progressed, I have found satisfaction in courageously carrying out the duties that I set forth to dedicate myself to helping others reach their goals,” he said.

Babineaux moved to Laurel in 2006 after he graduated from Jones County Junior College, where he was an assistant baseball coach. He graduated in 2008 from Southern Miss, where he earned academic scholarships and awards. He also enrolled in USM’s ROTC program.

After graduating, he was tapped as a second lieutenant in the Mississippi National Guard and served in Iraq.

It was on his return home in 2010 when he revived the Laurel Black Cats baseball club as a way “to incorporate the use of the baseball field as tool to teach young men and women the necessary skills to prepare them for college and life.”

He received his master’s degree and has worked at Laurel Middle School, the alternative school, Oak Park Elementary and is now at the Ninth-Grade Academy teaching exceptional education. He also coached a girls’ basketball team to a pair of city championships.

When not overseas or coaching youngsters in baseball, Babineaux said family comes first.

“I firmly believe in living a fulfilled and exciting life and seeking every possibility to set obtainable goals and experience new adventures,” he said.

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