Outstanding Student of the Year by the Nathan M. Bisk College of Business the past two years
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – For Florida Tech pitcher Boris Villa, baseball has been a part of his life since the day he was born.
Growing up in Barranquilla, Colombia as the son of a former minor league player turned scout for the New York Mets and Texas Rangers, Villa was able to see many sides to life inside professional baseball.
Name a major leaguer from Colombia and odds are that not only does Villa know the player, but he has some type of kinship with them.
Among his closest acquaintances on the diamond, Villa mentions Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Luis Patino as well as Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jose Quintana, a former All-Star who Boris credits with helping become the pitcher who earned Second Team All-Sunshine State Conference and ABCA/Rawlings All-Region following the 2021 season.
However, those up-close experiences allowed Villa to see the other side of the sport. About ten percent of all minor league baseball players, regardless of whether they were signed as an international free agent or drafted out of high school or college, eventually make the major leagues.
Even the ones labeled as having “generational talent” or being a “can’t miss prospect” can sometimes never make it to The Show, whether due to injury or any number of factors.
For young players who come from countries in South America and the islands in the Caribbean, the goal to not only make the majors but to earn the kind of money that can be impactful for their families and communities for generations can lead to a singular focus that makes their sport a 24/7 occupation, often leaving an education to be voluntary.
When those dreams don’t become reality, these young men are often left at square one.
“I saw it a lot,” said Villa. “After two years, they got released and then they didn’t even have a high school degree, so they didn’t have anything to do after.”
Seeing so many of these stories caused Boris, who graduated last year with his bachelor’s in Business Administration and is scheduled to graduate with his Master’s in Business Administration in Summer 2022, to look inward and wonder what he could do to change it.
While he chases his own dreams of one day reaching the big leagues, in 2017 Villa helped to create Fundación Inspira Colombia along with Top Prospects Colombia.
The goal of the two organizations is to help create exposure for athletes across all sports in Colombia to eventually be able to a scholarship to a school in the United States so that they can earn an education that will help to provide a second career after their playing days come to an end.
Villa, who has been named an Outstanding Student of the Year by the Nathan M. Bisk College of Business each of the past two years, sees the long-term benefits of a college education and the careers they can provide that will allow scholar-athletes to eventually be able to create change for good in their communities and inspire others to do the same, pay it to forward effect.
“I want people to be able to help the cities also because they’re going to go back with a degree that they can help their family as well,” he said. “So, they have another option that’s going to allow them to make money.”
Part of what drove Villa to lead these two organizations was his first experiences in America while attending junior college. “I just wanted to give the opportunity that I was having here,” said Villa. “When I came here, I was like ‘Oh, this is awesome!’ So I just wanted to pass it on.”
Florida Tech has already seen the results of Inspira firsthand with two fellow Barranquilla natives, rising junior designated hitter Diego Garcia and rising sophomore pitcher Andres Tapia.
“Since I came to Florida Tech it has been a great experience,” said Tapia.
“Meeting new people, studying in a foreign country, and keep playing baseball at a high level. It’s one of my biggest dreams and I’m really enjoying my time here. Now I’m supporting Boris with his program through Inspira and helping those guys that have the talent to come to study and play baseball here in the United States.”
“It has been a great experience and I feel that all my expectations have been met. I couldn’t ask for a better education than the one that I’m receiving from this school,” said Garcia, who has been friends with Villa since childhood.
“Now, I’m also part of the project and we will continue helping people, just as he helped me, to find a place in the United States to play baseball and get a higher education.”
Panther Head Coach Jeff Tam has attended multiple showcases in Colombia in the past and what stood out the most to him was just how much of a role model Boris has already become amongst his peers.
“It’s the fact that these kids that are only two, three, four years younger than Boris,” says Tam, himself a former Major League pitcher.
“The way they look up to him and the way they treat him with the utmost respect and they realize what he’s doing and what he has in place down in Colombia trying to find those guys home for baseball and school. They just look at him in a different light and I think they really do appreciate what he’s doing.”
While Boris Villa’s Panther career may have come to an end in May, he will continue to pursue his dream of reaching the Major Leagues and becoming colleagues with those who have helped mold him into the athlete he is today.
However, it’s his long-term vision that has the potential to help others in his homeland and create a brighter future for so many.
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