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On Saturday, we sat down with Curtis Pride, newly elected president of The Bahamas Track and Field Coaches Association.
The association was founded in November of 1989 and some people think it has not lived up to its mandate. One thing that was noticed with the new president is his e-mail. It is firstname.lastname@example.org. The "serves" in the e-mail is a philosophy of life that the new president believes in. Here are the questions put to Pride and his answers. We failed to mention to him the performance incentives put in place some three years ago for coaches of junior athletes who win medals.
1. What has been your background in track and field as an athlete and a coach?
I was the first athlete from South Andros ever to make a junior national team, and win an international medal. I won the silver medal at CARIFTA then the gold medal at Junior CAC (Central American and Caribbean) in 1988, both in triple jump. As a full scholarship athlete for Morgan State University (MSU), I was a consistent medalist at the conference and regional level. I played a major role in helping Morgan win its first ever MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) men's championship title. Thereafter, I spent two years training and competing with an elite club before making the transition fully into coaching.
Coaching is the main reason I never maximized my athletic potential. Even as an athlete I was coaching. I could not help it. I was always concerned with helping others succeed. My passion for this was so strong I would help my competitors beat me, in competition. When the head coach at MSU asked me to become an assistant coach I did not hesitate to give up my competitive goals.
I served as an assistant coach at MSU and head coach of Dunbar High School in Baltimore before returning home. After returning home, I spent a short time at St. John's College before reviving the Ambassadors Athletic Club. After a few successful years of coaching under Ambassadors which included the honor of being named to serve as a coach with three junior national teams, I left coaching. I returned two years ago after more than six years away from the sport. I am now coaching again with Ambassadors and developing an elite training program.
2. The coaches association was formed in 1999 and Rupert Gardiner was elected as the first president. It has had some challenges since its inception. What made you decide to seek the leadership?
I was asked by some of my colleagues who recognized the need for the association and was searching for a leader who could re-structure and re-brand the organization in the best interest of all coaches and further advancement of the sport. At first I said no because the politics of the sport had contributed heavily to the long break I took from the sport, and It did not seem to align with my personal goals. However, as I listened and watched, the desire to help others succeed re-emerged. Our sport and coaches are faced with many challenges. Many of my colleagues want the same things I am seeking. We want athletic coaching to be recognized and respected as a vocation and equal opportunity to all. I decided to lead because I want to be integral in shaping the future of sports coaching in The Bahamas.
3. What are your goals as president?
As you noted above, the association faced many challenges since its inception. When we (the current executive board) looked at the history and the current realities of the association, three negatives are obvious: There has being no real continuity in the business of the association; the association has never earned much respect among the stakeholders of our sport, and it always seemed to be a club for a small group of "elite coaches" - an exclusive club.
In my short two-year term as president, I will lead the way toward three main goals focused on securing the future of the association. Please note that these are not my goals - they are 'our' goals. They are: to restructure the association to support athletics coaching as a vocation; to rebrand the association into a professional organization and to develop a five-year strategic plan to ensure proactive governance, productivity and growth.
4. We have a few coaches concentrating on long-distance running and field events. What does your association plan to do to rectify this?
We have already decided that both are primary areas of focus, but we're still in the process of planning what to do. We plan to engage the coaches concerned, to hear their needs and ideas before finalizing our plans. We do know though that the plan will include better recruitment of athletes, more resources and good incentives for throwing and distance coaches.
5. Is there anything you are excited about?
I'm excited about eight-year-old Ashely whose natural running abilities amaze me, 11-year-old Christian who despite a great physical challenge is transforming into an awesome athlete, the passion of Kelsey and Maya for running, the intensity of Juliette in competition, Angel and Vernique's commitment to learning, Brian who seems poised to jump farther than I did as a junior, Andretti and Zhivago and Francis who believe in my ability to prepare them for the 2016 Olympics. I am excited about the opportunity to help each of them succeed. Their potential and performances excited me.
6. Who are the other members of your executive committee?
Rupert Gardiner, 1st vice president; Felix Seymour, 2nd vice president; Jason Edwards, secretary general; Shaun Miller, treasurer; Greg Cash, assistant secretary general; and Fritz Grant, David Ferguson and Wendell Collie, board members.
7. What are your views and the association's views in education and training of coaches?
Both are the same. Education is important but it does not only result from studying theory. Experience gained through application is equally important. Individual coaches must continually seek education, and training/learning should never stop. Our association must standardize a learning pathway for its members toward ensuring a standard level of competency and accountability at each level of coaching. However, it must do all it can to facilitate development and training so it is available and affordable to all.
8. Mandate of the association should be to be inclusive of coaches throughout the entire Bahamas - all of New Providence and the Family Islands. Are this executive's plans any different from the former executive's plans?
I am not able to speak about the former plans because I have not ever seen any, but here's a part of the new plan: The empowerment of Family Island coaches is a priority in our strategic plan that's being developed. We will be mainly focused on educating and equipping at least one coach in all of the major Family Islands. We will also help facilitate and support a coaches association in Grand Bahama. This is a part of the responsibility that is being appointed to Felix Seymour (from Grand Bahama) who was elected to our executive board as 2nd vice president. We expect him to play a vital role in engaging his colleagues in the vision of the association. We also plan on actively engaging the Family Island rep who has already been appointed but not yet announced publicly in making sure the voice of all island coaches are heard, and their needs met. We will ensure that we have island participation in all our initiatives.
9. Financing is so important to any organization. It is no different for the coaches association. Will your association embark on anything different from the past?
We understand that there is an adequate amount of funds available through a number of local and international organizations that we can access. The challenge is gaining these organizations' trust by demonstrating good operations inclusive of financial integrity. We intend to achieve this. In addition, there are a number of opportunities to earn income for the association through fundraising and some special athletic events we plan to promote and manage. We are starting with very little but we will work hard and smart, to ensure that there's money in our account to fund the association's future work.
10. Most coaches in my opinion wish to be members of the national teams. What is your view on this?
This is true because it has become the culture and remains the main award for a coach's performance. Making a national team makes a coach feel successful and special. Not making the team makes one feel the opposite. If we didn't provide different ways to measure their performances, recognize their achievements and reward coaches for their service, many would decline coaching teams. It's not so easy for coaches with corporate careers and family responsibilities to travel.
11. How do you see the coaches association working with the BAAA?
In collaboration to do the following: promote coaching in The Bahamas so as to improve the quality of performance and the level of participation in track and field; encourage the accreditation, training and testing of persons to become qualified coaches and arrange for the proper regulation of such activities; develop the coaching of track and field within clubs, schools and any other institutions; safeguard the professional integrity and image of the association and its members and represent the interests of coaching and coaches in the decision-making processes affecting the association.
Thank-you so much and good luck!o Pride was busy on Saturday coaching athletes of the Ambassadors Track Club during the Fritz Grant Invitational, organized by the club.
There is a particular aspect of track and field in this country that makes, with continuity, a huge contribution to the national development of the sport of athletics.
I refer to The Bahamas Parents Association of Track and Field Athletes. This organization, headed by Harrison Petty, has been the bread-and-butter producer of track and field scholarships in the nation and has mightily assisted many athletes through sponsorships. Thus it has been vital to the success the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) claims.
To make the point for readers, I wish to submit some names: Leevan Sands, Sheniqua Ferguson, Derrick Atkins, Aaron Cleare and Trevor Barry. Each of the above has attained World Championships or Olympic medals or both, or has been a top international finalist.
Sands got a lot of early support from the association. He went on to win bronze medals at two World Championships and the 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze medal as well.
Sheniqua Ferguson, like Sands, enjoyed meaningful sponsorship from the association. She is one of the rising female sprinters in the world and was a part of the 2009 World Championships Bahamian silver medal winning sprint relay squad.
Atkins is the fastest Bahamian ever and the only Bahamian sprinter to run sub-10 seconds. His national record is 9.91 and he has also registered a legal 9.98. Add to that a wind-aided 9.86 and a 9.83 and he stands head and shoulders above every other Bahamian sprinter in times recorded. He was a direct scholarship recipient through the parents association. So were Aaron Cleare and Trevor Barry.
Cleare was one of the quality quarter-milers who helped to establish the country's legacy in the 1,600 meters relay. He was on the Bahamian team that placed sixth in the 1,600 meters relay final at the Athens Olympic Games.
Barry is Mr. Consistent. For a long time, he competed in the shadows of fellow Bahamian Donald Thomas, the former World Champion, Commonwealth Games champion and Pan American Games champion. However, Barry's bronze medal at the 2011 World Championships cemented him as one of the top high jumpers in the world.
The aforementioned athletes head a long list of young Bahamian boys and girls who have been afforded scholarships to institutions in the United States by the parents association, and accordingly, opportunities to expand their horizons through education and sports.
In the general scheme of things, the National Sports Academy, proposed by Prime Minister Perry Christie, will succeed only if it finds a way to bring such successful programs into the fold. I suggest that a meaningful path should be found to include such progressive and independent entities into the overall National Sports Academy structure.
o To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com.
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Contractors, business owners and various industry leaders packed the Bahamas Public Services Union Hall on East Street South on Thursday, April 28th, to attend the first general meeting held by the New Providence Contractors Association.
The meeting kicked off at 7:30 pm with a rally cry and a call for unity within the construction industry. Leading this call was NPCA's founder Delroy Meadows who made it clear that the association was committed to fight for equal access and opportunity for all Bahamian contractors within the industry. He called for diverse representation for contractors throughout the Bahamas. "We intentionality called this organization the New Providence Contractors Association because I believe that each major island should form its own association to represent the needs of their island. We should then connect as one body with the purpose creating our own investments and ensuring fairness withing the industry."
Various industry concerns were addressed by the panel during the meeting that evening. One of the major concerns among many in attendance included a proposed Contractors Bill which is being presented before the Government by the Bahamas Contractors Association. Many who were in attendance during the meeting voiced their opposition to the Bill and the principles of the Bahamas Contractors Association who were responsible for drafting it.
The panel included Attorney Alex Morley who dissected the proposed Bill before the audience to give those in attendance a clear understanding of what the implications were for those working in the industry if the Bill were to pass in Parliament.
Concerns were expressed were the Bill referenced the appointment of a Board by officials of the Bahamas Contractors Association which would govern both an Acceptance and Disciplinary Committee. Many saw these as conflicts of interests as the Bill also calls for the formation of both committees by the same Board appointed by the BCA.
Dive legend Neal Watson, who recently joined forces with Guy Harvey as Director of Outpost Dive Operations, has been elected for a two-year term as president of the Bahamas Diving Association.
Brendal Stevens, owner of Brendal's Dive Center in Green Turtle Cay, The Bahamas, was elected as the vice president.
Watson has been a pioneer in the dive resort business, starting his first dive operation in Freeport, The Bahamas in 1965. He has been involved in owning and operating hotels, establishing a chain of dive operations, working in the treasure salvage business, stunt coordinator for the movie and TV industry, owned and operated an airline charter company and established a chain of Neal Watson's Undersea Adventure franchise dive operations in The Bahamas and the Caribbean.
In 1985, Watson moved to Fort Lauderdale from Bimini and established Neal Watson's Undersea Adventures as a Florida corporation. Shortly thereafter, he started USA Travel Network, Inc., which is an ARC accredited tour company specializing in diving and adventure sports travel.
Recently, Watson agreed to join the Guy Harvey Outpost system's Expedition Outfitters program as Director of Outpost Dive Operations to recruit top dive operators in Florida, The Bahamas and the Caribbean.
Watson, a past president of the Bahamas Diving Association, recently finished his third term on the Board of Directors of DEMA (Dive Equipment & Marketing Association), which is the World Trade Association for the diving industry; and is Chair of the Bahamas Dive Marketing Committee, which is responsible for recommending budget expenditures for The Bahamas' Ministry Tourism for the Bahamas Government Dive Market Promotions.
Personal achievements include breaking the World Scuba Depth Record, diving 437 feet on compressed air as well as breaking the World Underwater Distance Record by swimming 66 miles underwater, non-stop without surfacing.
Establishes new initiative and goals for the 31-year old organisation...
Junior female softball players falling under the New Providence Softball Association's (NPSA) umbrella are expected to take full advantage of a five-week training program, that will swing into action this month.
The fundamental training sessions are apart of the NPSA's Junior Development Ladies Softball League. The re-introduction of the summer league is just one of the many programs NPSA President Godfrey Burnside will bring to fruition before his two-year period comes to an end. The summer league will run from June 24-July 28, with play being held at the Bankers Field, located at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex.
"The NPSA has had an established junior softball camp that started in the late 1990s and came to an end around 2005, that's when the Churchill Tener Knowles stadium got demolished," said Burnside. "Even though this is the same program, designed to enhance or improve the skills of our junior female athletes, it is an upgrade to what we once had. I am glad that we are going to have this program again. It is much needed as we try to develop the skills and talents of our junior players, as well as try and qualify for more international tournaments."
Interested persons between the ages of eight and16 years are asked to meet at the park on Saturday June 24 for registration. The three days selected for training are Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. A three-hour session will be held on Saturdays, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 12 noon. The scrimmage games will be played just before the first game of the 2013 NPSA regular season.
Burnside said: "There has been a deterioration in the level of play, especially when at the international level. There are some very skilled and talented young ladies in the league now, particularly in Grand Bahama and in New Providence. If we are able to work with these players, help to improve their skills and correct their forms at a very early age, the level of play will increase. What we are going to do, especially on Saturday mornings, is go through the basic skills, that are fielding, throwing, gloving, hitting and base running. There will be opportunities for them to play in real games, showcasing exactly what they have learned. Those games will be played before the women's match."
Burnside is hoping to have representation from a number of the junior and senior high school programs here in New Providence. He is currently in communication with the president of the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA) Alfred Forbes. A number of meetings have also been held, discussing the way forward for the program and the interaction of the physical education teachers.
The NPSA is also working closely with the Bahamas Baseball Federation (BBF) and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology so that the sport of baseball can be added into the curriculum, as soon as this coming school year. The reconstruction of the Churchill Tener Knowles National Stadium is another one of the projects that is expected to get off the ground this year. By the time it is officially opened, Burnside is hoping to have a vibrant junior softball league which will be a feeder system to the night league.
Six weeks ago, fifteen of the nation’s brightest college students began the highly coveted college ‘Dream Team Summer Associate’ internship program at Baha Mar.
Set in a dynamic office environment, the internship emphasized personal branding, professional development, networking, collaborative skills and workplace productivity...
The president of the Bahamas Diving Association (BDA) has pledged to work with the government to ensure stronger regulation of foreign dive boats operating in Bahamian waters, claiming that worldwide publicity surrounding the recent disappearance of a man on a shark dive poses a threat to the multimillion-dollar local industry.
Neal Watson said it would be an "understatement" to suggest that the BDA might be concerned about the industry's reputation following media reports which circulated globally about the disappearance of diver John Petty while on a shark dive with a U.S.-registered diving operation.
"For over 30 years The Bahamas has been safely putting tens of thousands of divers in the water with sharks," said Watson in an interview with Guardian Business.
"None of the media says this fatality occurred on a U.S.-based vessel operating out of Florida; it says a 'Scuba diver dies in The Bahamas'.
"These guys come, do things that create negative publicity and then pull up anchor and go home."
While it is not proven that the dive company did anything wrong, Watson suggested that, in trying to accommodate wildlife photography enthusiasts who are trying to capture "that 'gee-whiz' money shot", they conduct their shark dives in a manner that is not consistent with standards set out for members of the Bahamas Diving Association.
Petty, 63, was last seen last Sunday after entering the water during a tiger shark dive with Florida-based Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures.
Petty is believed to have been attacked by a shark; although his body has never been recovered, a dive mask that showed signs of such an attack was found. The incident is under investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Bahamas government.
In the days following Petty's disappearance, some including veteran Bahamian diver David Rose have called for an end to shark dives, claiming they are inherently too dangerous.
Watson says that line of thinking has got the local industry worried.
"There's a lot of concern. If a hotel goes to government and says we have concern that our hotel guests won't go in the water due to shark attacks, there's a possibility government will be so concerned about interactive shark dives that they would say 'We don't want to do this anymore', and that would be an enormous economic catastrophe for The Bahamas. We've done this safely for 30 years, and it's generated tens of millions of dollars for the economy," said Watson.
In a statement forwarded by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Watson sought to highlight the fact that the dive operation that Petty was with is not affiliated with the Bahamas Diving Association in any way.
"Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures, nor the M/V Shear Water, is a Bahamian-owned or based business and is not a member of the Bahamas Diving Association," said Watson.
Speaking with Guardian Business, Watson said that the Bahamas Diving Association had some time ago called for a "cease and desist" of dives like that being conducted by Jim Abernethy, including non-cage dives conducted with "known species of potentially dangerous sharks".
In 2011, Abernethy himself was bitten during a dive operation in The Bahamas, while in 2008 another diver on an expedition led by Abernethy's company was killed by a shark bite.
Now, Watson said, more "urgency" has been brought to ongoing dialogue between the Bahamas Diving Association and the government over introducing more regulation of such activities by foreign dive operators.
He added that the situation is exacerbated by the fact that foreign "live aboard" dive boats bring much less into the local economy than their Bahamian counterparts, as they enter and leave the country without buying locally or paying much tax.
For example, the operations do not have to obtain work permits for foreign crew or duty on imported equipment. They often may not fuel their boats in The Bahamas. And their guests do not buy into the local economy via hotel stays, restaurant visits and car rentals.
"We think it should be a requirement that if a foreign commercial boat wants to run a business in The Bahamas, they should have to base in The Bahamas," the veteran diver said.
A message left seeking comment from Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures was not returned up to press time.