By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
When the BVI Softball Association set March 21 as the opening day for its first post Hurricane Irma fast pitch league, they did so on a hope and a prayer, that the E. Walwyn Brewley Softball Park would be satisfactorily restored in time to bring the sport back to life.
Softball was the last sport to have action when it wrapped up the Raymundo “Mundo” Boynes Memorial inter Virgin Islands Tournament just three days before Hurricane Irma struck on Sept 6, 2017.
The association’s prayers were answered when Ariel Recovery Group, volunteers from 17 countries took on the task as their 20 project in the territory since Irma.
“This group has been so helpful and I thank God for them every day,” BVI Softball Association President Terry “Chino” Chinnery told Island Sun Sports. “I interact with them one on one, they’re very friendly people and they love what they do and Britnie (Turner) has been awesome. She’s a girl that gets things done. She’s just aggressive. She doesn’t take no for an answer and she’s just plugging day after day, always at it.”
Chinnery said the guys are always asking what else they can do and have constructed the bleachers, painted, help with light fixtures, threw away debris, retrofitted the bathrooms.
He thanked former association president Hon. Neville “Sheep” Smith who introduced Turner to him. Chinnery said Smith has been checking on the progress and ensuring that things are done right and anything needed, he has access to him.
“I commend him for what he has done also, because without him it would have not been possible,” Chinnery said. “And I also commend Yellow (Roy Garroway) of Quality Construction, he’s been there morning, noon and night. He’s always on site and makes sure the guys do what they have to do. So I just want to thank him so much for what he has done for Softball and just being there for us.”
Chinnery said if Ariel Recovery Group didn’t step in, they would have to rescheduled the season opener and thanked Smith and Turner for making it happen.
Turner, no stranger to the BVI, said her group has done several different projects here since Irma, everything from cleaning up to reroofing homes, rebuilding farms to helping getting schools back online.
“We’re really excited about this ballpark because even after our first day of being here, we’ve seen the entire community coming out and just hugging us, thanking us and jumping in themselves,” Turner told Island Sun Sports. “This has been a really cool experience for me because of bringing in volunteers from 17 different nations to be part of the continued recovery. This came from the Premier. I told him that I have people who want to be part of the recovery and he gave us this project and Hon Smith has been absolutely amazing in making sure that we’ve got what we need—the contacts, the supplies and it’s just been really cool. This new administration has just been lovely to work with. Very easy to allow good things to happen so that the country can move forward.”
Ariel Recovery Group started working on Tuesday and by Friday had the bulk of the work done along with local volunteers. Turner said Quality Construction has brought electricians, they’ve rebuilt the fence and are doing a lot of the hard things volunteers don’t have the capacity to do.
“We’re out here doing the craftsman’s stuff—painting, taking down lights, taking out toilets—it’s been really fun to just make it a really cohesive project. One of my favorite things is that we’re painting a mural on the blue walls. Wherever you see a blue wall, Debbie Carson will be leading that and we’re going to be honoring the past, present and future of softball.”
Turner said high schoolers have been helping out with painting and getting their community service hours.
“To have the kids involved I think gives them a lot of that pride to be part of this and it wasn’t just somebody coming in and doing it for them and again, this is a cohesive project,” Turner noted. “We like to work by, with and through the local community so that we’re all together.”