Commissioner Calvert White and the Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation (DSPR) has joined with the Major League Baseball (MLB) youth outreach program, called Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (R.B.I.), that will offer student-athletes interested in playing baseball and softball a year-round program.
The R.B.I. program aims to motivate participants to stay in school and pursue post-secondary education. The program has been embraced in many communities because it teaches children that being a success in life takes more than succeeding on the ballfield — it also means succeeding in the classroom and in the community.
All student-athletes registered in the Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation R.B.I. program will be required to register with the NCAA Clearinghouse, now known as the NCAA Eligibility Center. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Eligibility Center is the arm of the National Collegiate Athletic Association responsible for determining the academic eligibility and amateurism status for all Division I and Division II student-athletes.
DSPR R.B.I. student-athletes will also have access to the Major League Baseball Charities Inc. R.B.I. Scholarship Fund, which provides annual scholarships of up to $5,000 to as many as 12 R.B.I. for student-athletes who demonstrate academic achievement, leadership qualities and financial need and who wish to pursue secondary education. The territory-wide program kicked off this weekend in both districts with its first event with what DSPR describes as micro baseball and softball leagues.
The DSPR R.B.I. Program Junior Softball 16u Division has four teams, two from St. Croix and two from St. Thomas-St. John. The Junior Baseball 15u Division has five teams, three from St. Thomas-St. John and two from St. Croix; the Senior Baseball 16-23 Division has two teams from St. Croix and two teams from St. Thomas.
The micro league will be followed with a R.B.I. Coaches’ Clinic, which will focus on fundamentals and mentoring. The clinic will close out the year with its annual R.B.I. tournament on St. Croix. This tournament is expected to host teams from across the U.S. in softball and baseball.
During this weekend’s games, Commissioner White said “I want to thank the parents, coaches and staff that have put their hard work into making the R.B.I. program a reality. While we promote sports, education will always be the department’s priority.”
The Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation presently has a ‘no spectators’ policy in place due to COVID-19 protocols. DSPR, with the guidance of the Department of Health, will revisit the pandemic data and make an assessment in the near future.