Friday, Apr 26, 2019
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YMCA Academy continuing to assist student-athletes with development

The YMCA Baseball Academy’s main goal is to assist families with their children’s development and preparation for university as possible student-athletes. The focus of the academy is baseball, but it has assisted in other sporting disciplines, such as football and track and field, as it relates to family planning. With a void in the country of a structured primary and secondary baseball program in the public and private school systems, the goal of the academy is to focus on being creative and not losing another generation in baseball. As a result, the academy started to foster development, training and exposure strategies to assist families and students.

By providing opportunities to complete their secondary education in boarding and private schools in the United States of America (USA), which provides high level exposure during very competitive high school baseball seasons throughout the USA, was a start.

“We also included exposure information and opportunities with PONY Baseball and the PONY Caribbean Zone Championships,” said an

academy spokesperson. “This has been vital exposure and resource tools used in the international community to provide high level opportunities for these young players to test and evaluate their skill set against their peers.”

The Academy continues to cross league boundaries and assist the local leagues with the development and the exposure of their members as they continue to grow in the game of baseball. The recent Bahamas Baseball Federation (BBF) Championships, hosted in Grand Bahama from June 23-26, featured some great games and championships in the 13-15, 16-18 and 19-25 age groups. The academy membership was scattered throughout these three divisions, and they made major contributions to their local leagues.

The 13-15 division championship game featured the Junior Baseball League of Nassau (JBLN) going up against the Grand Bahama Amateur Baseball Association (GBABA) All-Stars. That game featured 16 academy members from both teams, with 11 of those members in the starting line-up. Some of the players the game featured included pitchers Perez Knowles (GBABA) and Ian Mayers (JBLN), catchers Michael Treco (game-winning hit for JBLN) and Kyle Parks (GBABA) and infielder Lance Edwards. They and the others have all been a part of the academy and are currently completing their secondary education in the USA, and have been a part of PONY Baseball as well.

The 16-18 divisional championship game featured LEGACY Baseball taking on the Grand Bahama Little League (GBLL) team. That game featured nine former and current academy members from both teams. Some of the players the game featured are outfielders Jervis ‘Champ’ Stuart (LEGACY) and Andre Turnquest (LEGACY), winning pitcher Alvin Rolle (LEGACY), first baseman Jordon Farquharson (LEGACY) and middle infielder Jerome Jones (LEGACY), and infielders Benniko Beneby (GBLL) and Ramon Grant (GBLL).

They and the others have all have been a part of the academy and are currently completing or have already completed their secondary educations in the USA and have been a part of the PONY Baseball experience.

The 19-25 divisional championship game featured LEGACY Baseball taking on the JBLN. That game featured 11 players, all of whom played PONY Baseball. The game had four former academy members. Some of the players featured were outfielders Ali Knowles (LEGACY), pitcher Desmond Russell (LEGACY), and infielders Aneko Knowles (LEGACY) and Lynden Pindling (JBLN). They all have been a part of the PONY Baseball Experience and they completed their secondary educations in the USA and are now attending universitys as student-athletes.

Jerome Jones (LEGACY) and Theodore ‘Trae’ Sweeting (JBLN) are also former academy members and were finalists for the BBF ‘High School Player of the Year’ award. Desmond Russell and Lynden Pindling were the BBF ‘College Players of the Year’ and Desmond Russell was the BBF ‘Pitcher of the Year’.

A number of these players have been able to achieve many significant achievements, such as Honor Rolls, Headmaster Honor Rolls, Pre- Season All-American Selections, All-State Awards, All-Conference Awards, Team MVP Awards and All-District/Area Selections, just to name a few.

The academy strongly believes that without a strong structured primary and secondary baseball program within the public and private school systems in The Bahamas, the students will continue to migrate to the USA to seek development, exposure and competitive challenges needed to prepare them for university and college opportunities, as they seek to financially facilitate the completion of their university and college degrees by being student-athletes.

The above shows that it is working. Secondary educational opportunities in the USA continue to provide academic and athletic development, training and exposure with great results as Bahamian students are now attending very good universities and colleges as student-athletes. PONY Baseball continues to provide the high level competitive test via their international tournaments.

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