The Santo Domingo Stars - a baseball team of young men from the Dominican Republic aged 11 to 13 years old - visited Lebanon and Nashville, Tennessee from May 27 to June 1st. While there, the team had the opportunity to play in the Tennessee Baseball Players Association (BPA) tournament. This was the first step in a baseball exchange organized by the Dominican Republic and Tennessee Partners, who plan to also bring Cumberland University's baseball team to the Dominican Republic this November to play against local Dominican Teams.
The Santo Domingo Stars - a team composed of twelve players and two coaches - had a full schedule in during their time in Tennessee. Their trip included three baseball competitions, numerous batting and fielding practices at Cumberland University, a visit to the Nashville Zoo, attending a Nashville Sounds (AAA) game (fireworks included!), and a reception at the Lebanon Country Club. During the four nights spent in Lebanon, the Stars were hosted by families of Tennessee baseball players.
Jeff Gannon, a Lebanon Youth League board member, welcomed two of the Santo Domingo Stars players into his home during their stay. He reported:
"This [was] a neat experience for our family and the community. I think that the interaction [was] an all-around good experience for our youth."
Upon returning to the Dominican Republic, each of the players received a Certificate of Achievement from the Dominican Partners. At the reception for the Stars, Waldo Brea, President of the Dominican Partners observed:
"Although there was a language barrier for the visitors to Tennessee, overall it was a very enriching experience because they interacted with other players and their families both in the home and on the baseball field. For certain, this cultural exchange was a significant formative experience for them".
It is our hope that this highly successful baseball exchange will lead to future exchange programs involving youth and sports between Tennessee and the Dominican Republic.