By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Players, peers, family and friends gathered at Meyett’s in Cane Garden Bay on Saturday night for a dinner held in honor of Terrence “Chino” Chinnery, not just for celebrating his 60th birthday, but, for his commitment and dedication to developing softball and baseball players and others in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands.
A call came in from a Natheson “Shadow” Thomas, a current baseball player in Germany who has made the British Baseball National team and Mahal DeCastro, a retired player in the United States. They echoed the same sentiments as speakers from St. John and Tortola, as they rehashed the selfless contributions Chinnery continues to make.
Businessman James Penn recalled that Chinnery uses his mother’s two story house on St. John as a hotel, where young girls, boys and senior players from the BVI and elsewhere stay, when they compete there or on St. Thomas.
Former mentee Glenn Philbert also recalled Chinnery taking St. John players home all over the island after practice in his blue Ford Ranger, much to BVI participants laughter as the truck did the same work on Tortola.
“I often tell Chinnery there’s a reason why he doesn’t have children and there’s reason why he doesn’t have a wife,” said Linda Allen, whose son Jamaal Chinnery has worked with for the last 18 years, helping him get to college. “If he had those two things, then the time he puts into all of our kids from time they are three years old up to college age, we would not have gotten the opportunity for our kids to have the opportunity to go off to school. He’s on the field everyday working with our kids both boys and girls.”
Allen noted that Chinnery goes about his task without expecting any rewards. The players call him coach, father and mentor, because that’s exactly what he has been to them.
“I’ve never met a gentleman who invests so much of his time into other people’s kids and he does not look for anything in return,” she said to a thunderous applause. “When I started travelling with Chinnery and the baseball team wherever they went because my son was there, the way I see him treat our children, you would think that they were his. Some people say the field stopped their kids from doing school work, but the field encouraged my son to do his schoolwork. If he did not pass classes, he could not go anywhere with Chinnery or, play ball. He encourages our kids to do well in school.”
Speaking on behalf of players, Keno Gumbs said they can all say that Chinnery is patient, kindhearted and dependable. “He has thought many people to follow their dreams—no matter what it may be—and he always does what he can to help you succeed,” Gumbs noted. “He has known many of us from time we were small and thought us everything we know about baseball. He has groomed us into what we are today. Many of us have been on national teams both in the USVI and BVI. Some of us have gotten college experience, degrees or even on numerous cases where he would set up show cases, where we would go and showcase our talent to scouts or college coaches. This would not be possible without the dedication he displayed throughout all these years.”
Gumbs recalled an incident 12 years ago when Chinnery called them in the middle of practice and asked the date. He said when they responded, Chinnery told them to check him the same time next year because they were wasting his time.
“Despite his remark, he came to the field while we practiced ourselves until we learned our lesson and thanks to that, many of us were able to make it far through baseball,” he said.
Allen noted when fathers were concerned bout their daughters traveling with Chinnery, she was always able to allay their concerns. She added that when the girls had disagreements, Chinnery knew how to make them comeback together and took them to his mother’s house on St. John.
“He would let them have trash time and tell each other whatever they had on their mind but when they left St. John, they returned as a team,” she noted. “I always admired how Chinnery got those girls to respect him up to today—even the boys too. He’s a very good person. Has a very good heart. I don’t think there’s anyone else that invests time into anyone’s children like Chinnery does. He doesn’t want you to big him up or take credit for it, but tonight, Chinnery, we want to thank you.”
Chinnery’s work in softball is unparalleled as he developed the Pythons girls team from scratch and they won 66 straight BVI Softball Association games including four successive titles.