Lou Adderley, national sports hero prototype
The coronavirus has the primary focus of the world. This disease has impacted life throughout the globe, and in The Bahamas, much of what is customary has come to a screeching halt. Nevertheless, as with other countries, segments of life remain ongoing.
We’ve not stopped living. So, it is that there are, indeed, plans for some future events. I venture to point to one national happening that will certainly be addressed, although perhaps to a lesser degree, because of coronavirus.
Reference is to the national heroes celebrations in October. No doubt, despite being ever-mindful of the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus, members of the National Heroes Advisory Committee, with Chairman Mark Humes leading the way, have been putting thoughts to the 2020 third version of the national extravaganza, established to pay tribute to Bahamians who rose above others in their contributions to quality nation building.
From a sporting perspective, the national heroes program could be enhanced if consideration is given to saluting more of the stalwarts who have passed this way.
For instance, we were blessed in The Bahamas to have in our midst from 1934 to 2003, Leviticus “Uncle Lou” Adderley. This Bahamian, from extremely humble beginnings, who was spawned out of the upper Wulff Road community on New Providence, developed into a multi-purpose citizen who touched many, many lives for the “much better” during his fruitful years on this side of eternity.
Adderley chose education as his professional career and became a leading light in that regard. Later in life, he devoted his time and efforts significantly to the church. When the Catholic Church made the historic decision to allow married men to be ordained as deacons, Adderley was in one of the early groups of applicants.
As an educator (rising all the way to becoming principal of St. Augustine’s College – SAC); and in his diaconate role, Adderley justified national hero status. The truth be told though, his sporting endeavors overlapped his entire life, from the time he began playing kick ball, and hitting a tennis ball with a broom handle.
The author of a great body of work in life, he remains more synonymous with sports and a prime candidate for national hero honors.
I vividly remember, as far back as the 1950s, passing the tennis complex on the corner of Wulff Road and Mackey Street, on New Providence, and seeing this energetic player scampering all over the court. I was to get fundamentally acquainted with Adderley in 1962, my first year at SAC. My memory is clear of watching him, many mornings, walk his bicycle up the great hill at SAC; and watching him guide the Alcuin and Bernard Houses’ sporting schedules for the students.
I was in Alcuin House. Rudy “Hog” Ellis was both my and one of the basketball captains of Alcuin for that 1962 class; and Philip “Cabbage” Poitier was the vanguard for the softball team. My claim to fame at the time was simply being around so many young colleagues who became national hall of fame items as athletes.
The SAC Class of 1962 heralded the coming of age of Fred “Papa” Smith, Jason “Pegs” Moxey, Poitier and Ellis as aforementioned, Peter Brown, John Todd and Patrick “Peco” Johnson. They were but a few of the multitude of athletes nurtured to stardom by Adderley in over 40 years of sports/mentoring service.
That category, alone, qualifies him as a national hero. There was so much more to this brilliant, humble son of the soil, however. He was one of the great athletes (track and field, tennis, baseball, basketball, wrestling, volleyball) in Bahamian history, tough as nails and mentally above most others.
Inside and outside of the country, he was a sports superstar. At Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, Adderley lettered in Greco-Roman wrestling. He won an individual conference championship in 1954. At home, other than standing out in track and field, tennis, basketball, baseball and softball, he was a great presence in early organized volleyball play, and later he was a certified official organization founder.
Eddie Ford comes to mind, often, regarding versatile sporting stars. Well, Adderley belongs in the conversation, and the argument could be made that he starred in more sporting disciplines than any other.
Hopefully, when the National Heroes Advisory Committee completes its list of honorees for this year, Adderley will be included.
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