By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Rhodni Skelton was elected the 9th President of the Virgin Islands Softball Baseball Association since it was founded in 1952, during elections held on October 27.
“I would like to see softball and baseball, something going on, on that field just about year round,” Skelton, who grew up playing baseball in St. Thomas and St. Croix, told those who elected him in his first remarks. “Our fields in those islands were always full. We should not have these lulls of three, four, five months when nothing is going on.”
Skelton said if they’re going to take softball to another level, then they must get back into the school aged 10-15s—that’s where they have to put their effort. “In five, 10 years from now, we can go on that field and see some really competitive baseball, really competitive softball, travel away and be proud of our teams when they go out there and do well.”
Skelton, who currently plays with Storm, told Island Sun Sports that he has been involved with the association and as he ages, his playing days will be over in five, 10 years. He said that he needs to be able to contribute to the sport that gave him numerous opportunities including travel and meeting friends. He said he needed to find a way to give back and set the vision for softball in the future.
“it’s about bringing back the glory days. BVI was known for having excellent softball teams and if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll agree that has slipped somewhat,” he stated. “I want to bring back the glory days of baseball and softball to the BVI.”
The new president recalled that when BVI traveled in the past, played teams like the USA and Canada—who had never heard of BVI and held them to 3-0, they would ask how, not knowing that players here practice after work in the evenings, while their job is playing on the national team. He noted that they were amazed that they only managed to beat the BVI, 3-0, when they were beating other teams, 7-0, 11-0.
“It says that we have that raw ability, that raw talent here in the Virgin Islands and we just need to hone that ability and that talent and be able to put BVI back on the map,” Skelton said. “Youth development is everything and that will be the driving force behind everything I try to push with the association—obviously it’s not just myself. We’re having fun playing, at my age, I still want to go out and show that I can do my thing, but, for me to be able to enjoy softball, it has to start with the youth. We have to go back into the schools as there are more opportunities for them and women. My goal would be getting back into the schools and see if we can get some skilled persons to come in and help to train. Pitching is everything in baseball and softball as well, so we need to develop pitching. So we definitely need some help.”
Skelton would like to see district competition but recognize finance is a challenge in getting fields across the territory up to par. Most of the fields aren’t up to regulation standards but are good enough for getting playing time and bring back the excitement.
“People would love to stay in Baughers Bay and see some of the young folks playing or over in Sea Cows Bay, even on the Greenland field. We’ll like to get it out there,” he said. “We know everybody is excited and gonna want to see things happen now for now, but give us some time. It may take some time to get one or two fields ready and be able to have a solid set of games and everything set up structurally. One thing people forget is umpires—we have four or five—I’d like to see some of these young people who were in the elections, if they’re not playing, they can start to umpire other games, because without umpires, we can’t get anywhere.”
Five new persons have joined Skelton on the executive, which has been expanded to include softball affairs, baseball affairs and compliance. Glenford “Chappy” Maduro is the Vice President. Allen “Woodrow” Smith is President of Softball Affairs and Josh Ridgeway, President of Baseball Affairs. Secretary General, Bria Smith. Assistant Secretary, Darier Malone. Treasurer, Joi-Ann Thomas. Assistant Treasurer, Patricia Hodge. Compliance Officer, Sarah Potter-Washington. Public Relations Officer, Shamora “Molly” Penn-Maduro. Players Representative, Jamal “Lefty” Allen.