Former Holmes Community College Bulldog and pro baseball player turned author, Xan Barksdale (class of '02), is the college's Young Alumnus of the Year.
"When I decided to go to Holmes, I had no idea what a huge impact it would have on my life," Barksdale said. "Holmes gave me a first class education, lifelong friends and the opportunity to continue playing baseball for Coach Kenny Dupont. I didn't realize it at the time, but going to Holmes was one of the best decisions I've ever made."
"Xan was great for us: a great baseball player, a great student and an awesome ambassador for the school," said Holmes Baseball Coach Kenny Dupont. "I really enjoyed coaching him and I'm happy to see him receive this award."
A native of Madison, Barksdale played for the Bulldogs in the 2001 and 2002 seasons, where he was a two-time All-State selection and All-Region XXIII after the 2002 season. Outside of baseball, he majored in engineering and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society.
After earned his associate degree at Holmes, he played two seasons at the University of Mississippi while pursuing his bachelor's in business administration. Barksdale helped the team host their first regional in 2004 and was named "Most Dedicated Player."
After his playing days at Ole Miss, he spent time with the Atlanta Braves organization. Barksdale signed a free agent contract with the Braves in July of 2004 and competed for the Braves minor league affiliates in the Gulf Coast (GCL Braves), South Atlantic (Rome) and Carolina Leagues (Myrtle Beach). In 2007, he retired from professional baseball to accept the position as assistant coach the University of Louisville. While there, they won the College World Series and were Big East Champions for three consecutive years.
Barksdale also served as a recruiting coordinator/assistant coach for East Tennessee State University and a USA Baseball Catching Coordinator. In 2013, Barksdale saw ETSU win its first Atlantic Sun Conference Championship, while making the ETSU Buccaneer's first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1981. They won 36 games in 2013, which were the third-most victories in program history.
In 2008, he started Xan Barksdale Baseball, LLC, which is an online-based business offering baseball-related products, software, books and information. He is now fully focused on his position as CCO (Chief Catching Officer) of his company, and will soon release his fourth book, "The Art and Science of Calling Pitches." Barksdale's first book, "Catching-101: The Complete Guide for Baseball Catchers," is an Amazon best seller, and some of the products he has invented include a protective thumb device for catchers, a pitch recognition software for baseball, a catcher's performance summary iPhone app, a wristband sign system for baseball and softball and CatcherCON, a baseball convention specifically for catchers and catching coaches.
Barksdale also travels to conduct speaking engagements and has been the featured guest on a number of baseball podcasts.
As a result of his numerous accomplishments, he was inducted into the prestigious Holmes Community College Sports Hall of Fame in April of 2013. Three years later, Barksdale returned to his alma mater to talk about his book and video series "Catching 101" with the 2016 Holmes baseball team.
"I think giving back is really important," Barksdale said. "Because of my coaching career, I haven't been able to come back to Holmes as much as I wanted to over the past few years. Now that I have a little more free time, I plan to spend more time on campus and spend more time with the players and do as much as I can. I want to let them know that Holmes is a great place to be. I'm proud of coming from here and like to come back here."