Former Jr Black Sox's baseball dreams hang in the balance

By Leah Te Whata

Jarome McKenzie has received a scholarship to play baseball for a college in the United States of America. But, securing finance for travel, food, and accommodation is the only thing holding this 19-year-old back.

This Ngai Tai and Tainui descendant has knocked it out of the park, securing a full scholarship to play baseball and study at South Eastern Junior College in Iowa.

Jarome McKenzie says, "It's kinda hard to pass up an opportunity to play the sport you love and gain a university education at the same time, that's where I'm really excited to go over and get an education and play baseball day in day out."

However, Jarome has been thrown a bit of a curve ball. Because softball is the predominant diamond sport in New Zealand, baseball players are left to fend for themselves.

Jarome McKenzie told Te Kāea, "Raising the funds to pay for the accommodation and food has been hard."

Jarome’s mother, Jah Mckenzie says, "I've written to so many people, exhausted everything and I thought, where can we get the help?"

"For the last year and a half I've been working full time and training at the same time so it's pretty difficult," adds Jarome.

Whānau have reached out to Tainui and Pare Hauraki but were unsuccessful in receiving financial assistance.

Jah McKenzie says, "They couldn't help cause he didn't fit the criteria, that's what frustrates me. If it was rugby, cricket, we wouldn't have this problem, I really believe that."

"Baseball New Zealand is definitely helping to grow the sport of baseball in New Zealand," says Jarome.

Jah McKenzie says, "We've got so many Māori and Polynesian children that are missing out."               

Jarome leaves for college in a month, which gives him but a few weeks to come up with $15,000.

If you would like to support Jarome in his fundraising, you can find the details here: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/helpjaromegotocollegeinusa