The popular Caribbean tourist destination of Belize is known for its historic archeological sites, sun-kissed beaches, awe-inspiring diving sites, extensive barrier reefs, and as the home to the world’s loudest creature: the Black Howler Monkey. It was also known as the only Central American country without an organized Little League Baseball program. Until now.
When Belizean Pastor Victor Hernandez mentioned to West Columbia, South Carolina resident, Sybil E. Jarrells that he had long wanted to start a Little League Baseball program in his country, the gears started turning.
“My son played baseball in Little League, Pony League, and in high school,” Sybil told Hernandez. “He even earned a full scholarship to play college baseball. I know firsthand what playing baseball can mean to a young person, because I know what it did for my son.”
Sybil launched a personal quest to provide equipment to help establish a league in the tiny nation (Belize is approximately the size of New Hampshire, with a population just over 350,000, making it one of the most sparsely populated nations in the world). She joined forces with the people of Lexington County, South Carolina, led by the Lexington Blowfish baseball organization, The Lexington Chronicle, West Metro Rotary Club, and dozens of individuals, eventually gathering over 300 pieces of baseball equipment–enough to outfit three Little League Baseball teams, representing district schools and churches. Seven other schools have asked to join the league and are awaiting the next shipment of baseball gear.
Sybil and her husband, author Ralph E. Jarrells (Ill Gotten Gain), had the privilege of joining the Mayor of Punta Gorda at the first ever Belizean Little League Baseball game, and Sybil was given the honor of throwing out the first pitch. More than 150 people joined 40 Belizean Little League Baseball players on May 11, 2019, to watch the game in the Toledo District of Belize. The soccer field in Jacintoville was re-purposed, bases, tents representing dugouts, a make shift backstop, and a multitude of folding chairs dotted the field. “It was a tremendous amount of work,” Sybil confessed. “But the smiles on those kids faces certainly made the effort worthwhile.”