By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
When East Georgia State University Catcher Kennard Dawson got correspondence from a British Coach about making the team to play in the European U23 Baseball Tournament in Italy in August, he was first skeptical and thought it was a scam.
“The letterhead in the initial email said “Mets Organization,” Dawson told Island Sun Sports. “I was like wait, hold on. Then my coach started talking to me and said it was legit. When Shadow (Nateshon Thomas) messaged me and I actually got on the phone with the guy, I was like wow, this is actually what could really help me out in my career and it could boost me. Then I called my parents.”
As the excitement built, he was told to take it easy because he needed to have all the proper documentation. He said it was a driving point for him because after his collegiate season, it was something else to focus on in preparation for next season. This was something to look forward to, to try and reach another level with his game.
“I felt like this was the perfect opportunity for me,” he said.
The chain of events began in May, during his team’s baseball playoffs, when his head coach received a message from the British pitching coach saying he was going through a list of players eligible to play for the British team, who were playing collegiate baseball.
“He said he liked my stats and what I brought to the table,” Dawson said of the conversation with his coach. “He contacted me, then he contacted Shadow, who messaged me to get in contact with the coaches so I did and we spoke for a little while and they expressed interest in me playing.”
Dawson is in the process of obtaining his British passport.
“I was granted a sport on the team, so I’ll be heading to Italy to play in the preliminaries of the U23 European Baseball Tournament,” he said. “If we win that tournament, we’ll be in New York the following year.”
Demoi “Ben Up” Hodge and Molique Malone were working with Dawson on Friday at the E. Walwyn Brewley Softball Park, as he’s preparing for this journey. Other baseball players Reyondre Mercer and KJ Thompson have also been part of the group working out with Dawson.
“That’s my brother for a long time, so I’m happy for him,” Hodge told Island Sun Sports. “I feel I had a shot on the team but seeing that school and I weren’t getting along, I didn’t get the exposure this season, but in the future, he and I will be representing the BVI well. We have the talent to do it and we’re going to work hard.”
Hodge said they’re motivated by family and friends and it’s not a hard sport but it takes dedication to learn the sport.
Malone said Dawson deserves the opportunity because from day one, he has been working hard, working out, practicing, doing school work—everything.
“He really deserves it,” Malone stated.
Despite the absence of a facility, Malone encourages youngsters to get out and ‘try to make things happen.’ “Come out and do something,” he said. “Workout, go gym. If you have to run to keep your stamina, run. We have a softball field here. You can try a little something—run, hit and throw.”
Malone said his mother has been his motivator and encourages him to practice. Friends also play a part with their support. “We motivate each other to try harder and do better, instead of being out on the streets doing nothing.”
Dawson said his fellow players help him with hitting, throwing and getting whatever work they need to do.
Before heading to Italy, Dawson will return to school, get some conditioning work, familiarize with his new teammates, new plays being introduced and whatever needs to get done, before heading out.