The V.I. Future Stars, a non-profit organization which aims to support local baseball players with clinics and tournaments, is seeking a permanent home for a baseball facility on St. John.
The group, which has been in existence just two years, has already seen some of its players receive baseball scholarships to stateside colleges, and has participated in several local and stateside tournaments.
“We have a long-term plan to set up a facility on St. John, where we’d train players from throughout the Caribbean,” said V.I. Future Stars founder and director Darren Canton. “We’re hoping to get started this year, but funding is everything.”
Canton has already visited St. John several times, and has designated two possible locations for the V.I. Future Stars facility.
Moravian Church Land Possibility
“We’ve submitted some documents and we’re awaiting a response from the Moravian Church to see if we can go ahead and work with them on leasing the ball field that’s already there,” said Canton. “The family of Alvis Christian Jr., who is a big help in the organization, has private land, so that’s another possibility.”
The ball field is not part of the 10 acres leased by the Moravian Church to T-Rex.
The group hopes to be able to use the existing ball field for its facility, Canton explained.
“Constructing on private land would make the facility ours, but it would take a lot more work and more money,” he said.
“The Moravian Church facility is pretty much there, so that would be a lot easier and cheaper to do.”
Upgrades at GBS
Plans for the facility include dormitories, and, should the facility be constructed at the Moravian Church site, the V.I. Future Stars hope to help fix up the adjacent Guy Benjamin school, explained Christian.
“If the Moravian Church says yes, we’d upgrade around the field and contract with Guy Benjamin School to do some volunteer work and help them out,” he said. “Of course GBS would still have access to the field. My way of looking at it is a revitalization.”
“We would just want to help keep GBS up to standard,” Christian continued. “That would show the community we’re not just here for baseball; we will actually be helping out the younger kids in the school.”
The St. John facility will allow baseball players to develop camaraderie and prepare themselves for college, explained Christian.
“Ideally, kids from St. Thomas, St. Croix, and the BVI can live there, practice baseball and still take the ferry home to go to school,” he said. “They can live as a baseball community, because when they go to college, that’s what they’ll be doing. Unfortunately, we don’t have that type of experience in the Virgin Islands.”
While many Virgin Islands organizations can not afford to have offices on St. John, the island offers the perfect environment for a baseball facility, explained Canton.
“We like the seclusion of the island,” said the V.I. Future Stars founder. “To set up a good baseball camp or academy, you have to have the seclusion. It’s very private, and you can really get hands on and down and dirty with not too much distraction.”
The St. John baseball facility would give kids from surrounding islands the experience of living away from home before going off to college, explained Christian.
Revitalization for St. John and Caribbean
“Growing up on an island and not having the opportunity to get away, the kids do get a sense that the islands are the world,” he said. “We want to take them out of that and put them on St. John. They can live there and be more serious about baseball.”
“They may have the talent, but they just don’t have the experience,” Christian continued. “The facility will help with that.”
Christian hopes the proposed St. John facility eventually becomes a big draw for professional players, he explained.
“Major League Baseball has a camp in the Dominican Republic,” said Christian. “We’d like to invite them to have a camp here which is similar — it’s the same sun, sand and water, but it’s the U.S. If it goes the way we’re planning it, it will be very big, and it will revitalize St. John and the Caribbean.”