#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#SINCE their formation out of the Max D Baseball Academy in 2017, the International Elite Baseball Academy has been growing by leaps and bounds as they continue to provide opportunities for many young men to experience their dream of playing college or professional baseball.
#Headed by Geron Sands and Albert Cartwright, I-Elite was recognised for their efforts by the Deshaun Watson Foundation. Watson made the substantial financial contrition to I-Elite when he brought the Brown’s offensive line here last month for a three-day mini-camp to train and bond together.
#Tshombe Johnson, the business development and fundraising coordinator for I-Elite, said a college friend of his working with Watson, the Browns’ quarterback, was interested in giving back to the Bahamian community and they agreed to support I-Elite and one of the local soccer programmes.
#“When they came here to do their team bonding, Deshaun decided that he would find a way to give back to the community and it was suggested to Deshaun to try to help us because we are working on getting so many young players started with their future in the sport,” Johnson said.
#Johnson said the generous donation, which he declined to reveal, came at the opportune time as I-Elite continues to open so many doors for the players to excel to the next level. He noted that Watson indicated that his foundation will continue to support I-Elite in the future.
#“He told us that he wanted to assist in anyway with the growth of the programme,” Johnson said. “We’re at a spot right now where we are growing and anything we can garner th3e support to get to the next level, we welcome them to assist us.”
#Watson, who played college football at Clemson where he led the team to a national championship in 2015, was selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. On March 18, 2022, Watson and the Texans’ 2024 sixth-round draft pick were traded to Cleveland in exchange for the Browns’ first-round draft picks in 2022, 2023, and 2024. As part of the trade, Watson signed a new, fully guaranteed, five-year, $230 million deal with the Browns, making it the largest contract and most guaranteed money in NFL history.
#When Watson came to town, Sands said they were delighted to share their programme with him and he agreed to assist them.
#“We are really happy to know that there are people out there who are watching us and seeing what we are doing and want to help us and our country to continue to develop the kids,” Sands said. “We are happy for the donation that we received from Deshaun Watson. This will definitely us in our development.”
#I-Elite emerged out of Max D in 2017, but Sands said the concept of working with the young baseball players was developed from 2012 when Max D was formed. Now there are two separate entities in the country.
#Sands said I-Elite’s aim was to get more Bahamian young men fulfilling their dreams of becoming collegiate or professional baseball players. A year ago, he said they introduced softball for girls where they seek to assist the young girls in securing athletic scholarships as well.
#“We want to assist these young boys and girls in developing that mindset where they can achieve their goal and eventually return home and make their contributions to our society,” Sands said..
#Since their formation, Sands said they have been able to assist more than 15 players with signing professional contracts, including Jasrado ‘Jazz’ Chisholm of the Miami Marlins and Lucius Fox of the Washington Marlins. They have also secured more than 10 scholarships for players in college.