Fall Creek Intermediate sixth-grader JJ Branham
Fall Creek Intermediate sixth-grader JJ Branham.

Athlete Spotlight: JJ Branham

Athlete Spotlight is Sponsored by Mojo Up Sports Complex and Card & Associates.

Balancing more than one sport may come as a challenge for some, but not for Fall Creek Intermediate sixth-grader JJ Branham.

Branham is in his fourth year with Indiana Primetime Baseball (12 and under) and his fifth year with Showtime Basketball (sixth Blue) at Mojo Up Sports Complex, where he’s enjoyed competing with players with such talent they could have played anywhere, but chose to play together.

The time he has dedicated to both sports has made for many memorable moments.

Hitting a buzzer beater to win a game at Mojo, in addition to his Indiana Primetime Baseball teams ranking first or second in the state every season dating back to his 9-and-under year, have given Branham something to be proud of.

primetime baseball team
Branham was on the Indiana Primetime Baseball teams ranking first or second in the state every season dating back to his 9-and-under year. Click photo to learn more about Mojo Up Summer Camps.

“Last year, our [11-and-under] team finished with a national ranking of 43,” he says. “During that time, our Indiana Primetime teams have played in 19 tournament championship games and won 13 of them.”

Accomplishments and achievements don’t overshadow Branham’s humility and eagerness to learn. He actively absorbs feedback and integrates it into his game – even with baseball being nearly second nature to him.

His immersion in the world of baseball comes from the familial love of the sport that was embedded in his DNA before he can even remember.

“My parents both love baseball,” he says. “My grandpa loves baseball and played in college. I’ve been playing so long I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t playing or practicing.”

Perhaps the ingrained drive comes from his genes, or maybe the passion is from the number 50 outlined on Branham’s jersey, which he’s sported since he was 7, reflecting his inspiration, the energetic Mookie Betts.

Though baseball may come to him instinctively, he views basketball as a greater challenge, driving him to continuously improve. With the support of skilled coaches, Branham’s resolve remains unwavering. He consistently returns to the court to push his own limits.

“I love to challenge myself,” Branham adds. “Basketball has been challenging. I’m definitely not the best basketball player and I’ve had a lot of moments – a LOT of moments – that didn’t go well.”

Branham’s five years with Showtime Basketball have all been coached by Eric Schellhammer, and the coach has been involved in coaching Branham since he was in the second grade.

“Each time, Coach Eric was there to pick me up,” Branham says. “He’d tell me exactly what I needed to hear, whether that was encouragement or to push me to be better. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be playing basketball today if not for him and his belief in me.”

The additional time and dedication to his game doesn’t discourage the young athlete; instead, he’s harnessing both his innate talents and learned skills in a harmonious blend across both sports to truly foster his growth as a stronger player. This synergy is made possible through the support and motivation of his coaches.

“Sometimes all you need is a coach willing to believe in you,” he says.

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