IT wasn’t so long ago that a bitter dispute within the Bahamas Baseball Association led to the formation of the Bahamas Baseball Federation and subsequently the operation of both Freedom Farm and the Junior Baseball League of Nassau in the eastern district of New Providence.
Not so long ago, former minister of youth, sports and culture Neville Wisdom used a bull dozer from Bommer George Trucking to break down the Churchill Tener Knowles National Softball Stadium at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre that ultimately led to the demolition of the Andre Rodgers Baseball Stadium and the mini-baseball fields.
This seemed like umpteen years ago.
Today, the dispute has left both the BBA and the BBF heading towards an impasse. Today, both Freedom Farm and JBLN continue to have an impact on the growth and development of baseball, but more to the extent of the junior programme which has played a vital role in helping to get a number of players off to high school and colleges in the United States.
Four of those players who have benefitted from their involvement in the junior programme by going through the ranks of high school, college and the professional circuit, are back home making an even greater contribution with the establishment of the Maximum Development Sports Academy.
Kudos to Geran Sands, Greg Burrows Jr, Antoan Richardson and Albert Cartwright. The long-time friends, who all had visions of playing together in the major leagues, have come together for the creation of the first of its kind in the former Tropical Shipping building on East Bay Street.
MaxD, as it’s affectionately called, provides an avenue for players between the ages of 11-17 years to hone their skills with the view of getting them off to the USA where they can get the opportunity to eventually become pro players as well.
It’s something that is long overdue in the Bahamas, not just for baseball, but for all of the core sports like track and field, tennis, basketball, swimming, boxing, softball and golf.
Under its unique concept, MaxD has opened its door between the hours of 7am to noon for the students to be tutored in on-line home-based educational classes conducted by the Leadership Academy. After lunch, the 21 athletes enrolled since the new school began on September 2, are taken through their baseball drills by the quartet and their fitness routine by Natasha Brown from 1:30-5:45pm.
Although it took a huge sacrifice on the part of the four individuals listed above, it’s something that is definitely needed in the country. One can only wonder had the dispute been resolved and if there was a replacement for the Andre Rodgers Stadium would it come down to the formation of MaxD.
The academy is ideally located in a huge building that can accommodate all that the principals want to achieve. And there is future plans for the construction of a baseball field with an artificial turf in Tropical Shipping’s abandoned warehouse on the waterfront overlooking the beauty of Atlantis.
The venue will be ideal with its background to attract teams – high schools, colleges and pros – to come to the Bahamas to compete. I have to admit that with the beautiful waters we have to display, any venue set up will be an added plus for our visitors. The Bahamas Football Association experienced that in May when they hosted the 2013 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup qualifier.
Just imigine what the Bahamas can accomplish by hosting a series of other sporting events.
We’ve had athletes who left to attend academies and high schools in the USA and some have also gone to Cuba. Jamaica is also offering similar academies for track and field. Other countries like the Dominican Republic have some type of programme for baseball.
Now it’s time for us to showcase our kind facilities.
Keep up the good work Sands, Burrows, Richardson and Cartwright.
It seemed as if it was only yesterday that I saw the late Lenny Powell when he was on the sidelines watching the 2013 Bahamas National Championships in April at Mario’s Bowling Lanes. Now we’re mourning his death. At the time, Powell was his usual jovial self, making his smart remarks and reminding me of the time when he was one of the top bowlers to watch. Who would have thought that today we would be reflecting on his life.
It just goes to show, as the Bible reminds us, that we don’t know the day or the hour, when our time will come.
At least the bowling community can take the time out and remember him now as they hosted their City Bowling League Championship Shootout that wrapped up on Thursday night at Mario’s.
Powell, a former national bowling champion, is just one of the many sporting personalities who have passed away in recent times.
To all those who are mourning, I extend condolences on behalf of The Tribune Sports Department. May God sustain you all in this your time of bereavement.