They call themselves the "Fabulous Final Five" and, sometime soon, these five young athletes might just gain the kind of notoriety they’re hoping for – but they have to get through college first.
It appears, however, that Charlotte Amalie High School seniors Jose Nieves, Elston Rhymer, Von Webster, Dante’ Kane and J’Moi Smith are off to a good start. All five students signed letters of intent Tuesday to attend Central Lakes College, a two-year community and technical college in the Minnesota state colleges and universities system.
Speaking at a press conference held at Charlotte Amalie on Tuesday, CAHS coaches and faculty said the two years at Central Lakes would give the young players a chance to really develop their skills, which could pave the way for a spot at a Division I or Division II college and, eventually, give them a shot at the national or major leagues.
Nieves, Rhymer, Webster and Kane have been recruited to play football at Central Lakes, while Smith will be putting in his time on the college’s baseball field.
Central Lakes’ football coach Greg Medeck has made at least three trips to the Virgin Islands in the past few years to recruit some of the territory’s top athletes for his team. He has almost become a fixture – often seen taking notes and giving pointers – at the V.I. Tackle Football Camp hosted annually at CAHS.
CAHS head football coach Francisco Jarvis said Tuesday that the camp, which allows the territory’s talented prospects to show off their skills to potential recruiters, really helps demonstrate to show coaches like Medeck that the Virgin Islands’ athletes have a lot to offer – both on the field and in the classroom.
Jarvis said the football players at CAHS “don’t get to play enough,” noting they only are able to play six or seven games a year. He said that “by sending them to junior college, they also really get to develop and be noticed."
Coach Jarvis broke down Tuesday as he offered congratulations to his players, who he said he has come to think of as his sons, his "family."
CAHS Athletic Director Myron Corbett said he’d had the similar experience of watching all five young men grow over the years, watched them help bring in championships for the high school and present themselves well both on and off the field.
Speaking before the press conference, all five athletes said their ultimate goals would be to play their sports professionally but in case it doesn’t work out, they will also develop their interests in other areas. Rhymer, for instance, said he would like to be a veterinarian, while Nieves wants to be an entrepreneur.
"I’ve thought about it all," Nieves said. "Just in case."
Right now, however, the group is excited to be taking their next steps together and developing not only their careers but their friendships. All five said they would miss their old school and the teachers that have guided them along the way.
"My teammates, my teachers and my friends here have helped to make me who I am," Kane said, “and while I’m ready for this new beginning, it’s comforting to know that I won’t be by myself.”
"Just knowing that these guys are there will make me feel more comfortable, will make the transition easier," Kane said.
The students also said during the press conference that they feel prepared, mentally and physically, for what the college world has to offer.
The only challenge now, Smith added later, is really the cold Minnesota weather.