April 3, 2002 – It is the fondest hope of everyone involved in creating the new Mark C. Marin Center that when the state-of-the-art sports facility opens on April 13, a big cross-section of the community will be on hand to celebrate the occasion.
Admission will be free to all of the day's activities, which will include sports demonstrations, tours of the facility, steelband music, a $20,000 "shoot out" and what's being billed as a KQS All-Star Basketball Game.
From its inception, the center, situated on the Antilles School camus, was meant to be a community sports center. It even has two entrances; one on the east side for the public and another facing the campus on the west for students.
The facility, which occupies 40,000 square feet, will be utilized for Antilles physical education activities, yes; but it also will serve as a venue for intramural basketball and volleyball tournaments, after-school and summer programs, adult education classes and even concerts. Such was the vision of Mark Marin, headmaster at Antilles for 22 years before his untimely death last July.
"He would be so proud," Joan Amerling, Antilles development director, said Wednesday.
The project, helped along by a $1 million donation from Randolph Knight, became a perfect vision, too, for Knight, an avid sports enthusiast.
"One of the primary reasons I got involved with the project was to ensure it would serve the entire community," Knight said in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon. The radio executive had no previous affiliation with Antilles School but was determined to see to it that the facility would be built and maintained in the most effective way possible.
Immediately after the opening on April 13, Antilles will kick off an after-school program for students throughout the public and private school systems. It will include golf lessons (referred to as SNAG — "someone new at golf"), intermural sports for middle school students, modern dance, toddler tumbling and wrestling.
Amy Gurlea, coordinator for the center outreach programs, said the V.I Wrestling Federation "will be bringing in a mat" to be used expressly for that sport in the 17,346-square-foot gymnasium.
The center, which has cost $2.5 million so far, sports two different floors in the gymnasium. A wooden one of the type used by the NCAA, and which is portable, will be used for basketball and volleyball. A synthetic floor made of recycled Nike sneakers, which is also state of the art, will be utilized for other activities. "It takes four people to move the wooden floor," Amerling said.
In keeping with Marin's legacy of providing scholarships for Antilles students — $700,000 in financial aid was provided last school year to students whose families could not afford the tuition — Amerling hopes to obtain corporate sponsorship for the after-school and summer programs.
Knight also said, "It's going to take more corporate sponsors to assure the programs are available to everyone."
Proceeds from the opening-day fund-raising activities — the sale of $5 raffle tickets for the $20,000 "shoot-out" and food and beverages — will go to support the scholarship program for "under-served students," according to Gurlea.
Each raffle ticket will entitle the holder to a chance of being chosen from the pool of all ticket holders as one of three persons to take part in the basketball shoot-out, which will involve a special type of shot to be announced on the spot.
At booths that will be set up, students will be able to sign up for and apply for financial aid for the extra-curricular sports programs.
Knight Quality Stations is the major sponsor of the open-day festivities. In addition, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of the V.I. is providing beverages and Centennial Communications is sponsoring the "shoot-out."
Among the local celebrities expected to compete in the KQS All-Star Game are Julian "the Hawk" Jackson, Nick Friday, Osbert "Sweetback" Potter, Julien Baa, Louis "Lolo"Willis, Sens. Carlton "Ital" Dowe, Adlah "Foncie"Donastorg and Donald "Ducks" Cole, Kisma Vincent, Robert Luke, Lisa Schmid, Ras Regg, Doug Gurlea, Vaughn Belcher, Richard Spenceley, members of the UVI Buccaneers women's basketball team and none other than "Nothing But Net" Knight.
"It promises to be a really fun family day," Amerling said, adding that she hopes to fill the 1,200-seat gym to overflowing. Parking will be available on the campus and at nearby Bluebeard's Beach Club (the former Limetree Beach Resort), with shuttles transportation to and from the center.
The event starts at 10 a.m. and will run until "whenever," Amerling said.
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