From left, Bronson Damon, Garren Post and Christopher Kullman, all recent graduates of Westbrook High School, will captain their Supernova Selects team at the 297 Baseball Academy Week-long Experience in Oranjestad, Aruba, from Aug. 1-8. Contributed / Greg Post

Local baseball players are set to take off to Aruba in a few weeks for what parents and coaches hope will be a transformative trip.

Two teams of players from Westbrook, Gorham, Scarborough, Standish-based Bonny Eagle and Deering High in Portland, all part of Westbrook-based Southern Maine Supernova Baseball, will be in Oranjestad Aug. 1-8 for the 297 Baseball Academy. The Supernova Selects and Futures are the first North American teams to participate, and about 28 players, four coaches and upwards of 70 family members will make the trip.

The trip is a big deal for the players and Supernova because Aruba is considered a melting pot of baseball, according to the academy’s founder and owner Brodie Carey, a former University of Maine ballplayer. Players from Venezuela and the Dominican Republic – countries with a nearly unparalleled love for the sport – often start their careers in Aruba, Carey said, with many ending up on pro teams worldwide.

“They’re going to train a little differently here, I am sure,” Carey said in a phone interview from Aruba. “Here we have things with beach workouts, facility workouts, and the cultural experience will be different. They will play against a wide variety of players, some of whom are going to college through us, some who signed pro contracts, some with verbal pro agreements, so it’ll be quite an experience for these guys.”

Supernova has taken a number of trips, said its director and coach Greg Post, who also runs the Westbrook Community Center, but Aruba is its first international destination.

In addition to training and playing five games against local teams, the trip will include historical tours, community service and family trips to local parks and events around Oranjestad, Aruba’s capital.


“It needs to be more than just showing up and playing baseball,” Post said, noting the education and prep work that has gone into the trip to provide historical and cultural information that “might intrigue” the players.

“Ultimately, for us, it’s really driven by family values and quality time,” he said. “We want to be in a situation where we not only learn life lessons and enjoy cultural experiences but spend good quality time with family.”

Two teams from the Southern Maine Supernova baseball program, the Selects and Futures, will play at Nadi Croes Crismo Angela Stadium, above, and Joe Laveist Sports Park against Aruban teams Aug. 2-6. Supernova is the first North American program to participate in the academy. Contributed / Greg Post

Polly Smith, whose son Qwest Newhall just graduated from Deering High School, said the trip will provide her son and his teammates not only with the chance to “play up” and increase their athletic skills but also with lifelong tools and appreciation for what they have.

Carey said some of the players the Supernova group will meet often walk miles to play and aren’t often privy to resources the Maine players have, Carey said.

“It’ll be such a great experience to see the culture there and people who are residents,” Smith said. “Coming from America, it’ll be such an experience, and hopefully, they’ll realize how lucky they are.”

Lauren Stone agreed. She hopes community service and the historical lessons help her son Ryan Stone, a 16-year-old incoming Westbrook High School senior, grow into a more understanding and appreciative person, in addition to a better ballplayer.


“Being able to see the environments that other kids are playing baseball in and community service part is really important,” Stone said. “I think it opens their eyes to something they wouldn’t have seen before. We’ve been a part of other programs and there is normally some give-back, but to give back to a community thriving in a way different from what you are seeing, I hope it helps them not take things for granted.”

The players are excited, said Nick Rikker, a 16-year-old Bonny Eagle student and team captain, but they know little about what they are getting into or the professional level of some of their competition.

Regardless, he looks forward to the challenge.

“I don’t know who we are playing. We are just going,” Rikker said. “We could be playing some real good guys out there, but I welcome the competition and I like competitive baseball.”

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