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Long-time friends open Elite Sporting Goods in Covington

Friends Richie Cleary, from left, and Britt Mask recently opened Elite Sporting Goods in Covington.

Friends Richie Cleary, from left, and Britt Mask recently opened Elite Sporting Goods in Covington.

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Elite Sporting Goods carries sports equipment for several sports including baseball.

The lives of friends Britt Mask and Richie Cleary have continued on similar paths over the years. They both graduated from Newton High School in 1996. They both married Newton County school teachers. They each have three children, with both men being the fathers of an 8-year-old and a 14-year-old. And they both coached several Newton County Recreation sports teams.

Now, the two have something else in common -- Elite Sporting Goods store in Newton County.

Mask and Cleary opened Elite Sporting Goods, located at 10101 U.S. Highway 278 E. in Covington, in November. The store sells equipment, team apparel and trophies for sports such as baseball, softball, football and basketball. They also offer services including screen printing and embroidery for uniforms.

Mask said he and Cleary have wanted to open a sports supply store ever since they left high school.

"We've always thought about doing something like this. We've talked over the past five or 10 years about how we'd love to do it one day," Mask said.

The business came to fruition after Mask left his job in real estate and Cleary had a conversation with an acquaintance who knows the owner of the Elite Sporting Goods franchise, which is comprised of several stores in the metro Atlanta area.

Mask and Cleary decided to locate the Elite Sporting Goods store in a storefront next to Cleary Pest Control, Richie Cleary's family's business that has been in existence for more than 30 years.

Mask said that Elite rotates out sporting equipment and uniforms based on the season. Right now, baseball is in and Elite is stocked with plenty of bats, bat bags, balls, gloves and uniforms. In July, football items, such as pants and helmets, will be available. Come November, Elite will be selling basketball supplies.

The store also carries cleats, sports equipment for training and some soccer items.

Mask said that if a customer wants an item not in stock, he can order it.

"Anything associated with sports, if we don't have it in the store, we can get it," Mask said.

When the two men aren't running their store, they're coaching a Newton County recreation team. Over the years they've coached girls softball, baseball and football.

They're coaching the same pee wee league baseball team for which their 8-year-old boys play. Cleary is also an assistant coach for the Indian Creek Middle School football team, and he coaches his 5-year-old son's little league team.

Mask said his youngest child isn't quite ready to join a sports team.

"I've got an 18-month-old daughter, but she's not playing anything yet," joked Mask.

To reach Elite Sporting Goods, call 678-250-3548.