Sports

Jaida Knowles settles in at UK

One week of classes is already in the books for Bahamian freshman sprinter Jaida Knowles as she settles in at the University of Kentucky (UK) despite the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown her way.

Knowles received a full athletic scholarship to attend UK and is expected to compete in the sprints for the Kentucky Wildcats. She arrived on campus a few weeks ago and spent time familiarizing herself with her surroundings. Her transition was smooth; she only wished her parents had made the trip to Lexington, Kentucky.

“It wasn’t bad at all. It was actually pretty smooth,” said Knowles. “The only bad part about it was not having my parents to come over because of COVID-19 and the lockdown, and travel restrictions. I have an aunt that lives in-state and that helped me, so it was a smooth process. I have been trying to navigate myself around the campus and familiarize myself with it. I haven’t been going out much because of the COVID-19 situation. I leave to get food, go to class and to the store.”

Assisting Knowles with her transition is her former St. Augustine’s College (SAC) schoolmate and current teammate at Kentucky, sophomore quarter-miler Megan Moss.

Knowles said the most difficult part of the transition for her so far has been the food. She said she misses her mother’s peas n’ rice, and macaroni and cheese.

The biology major has an 18-credit hour load which she said is a lot for a freshman as the maximum is 19 hours. As a result of COVID-19, four of her classes are online and three are both online and in-person. The 2020 SAC graduate noted that coming down to the end of her senior year in high school she finished classes online, so it prepared her for this semester.

With a heavy class load that will include study hall, tutoring and practice, Knowles will be looking to adapt to college life quickly. To help her to stay abreast with the load, she has a planner and an organizer.

“I didn’t expect it to be this much, especially with track and field where we have to do tutors and study hours. Every week we have to complete a certain number of hours in the athletic department. We have to meet with tutors for each subject. I have school, study hall and a tutor schedule and in the middle of that, practice. It is a lot to take in at the moment, but I get adjusted to things quickly. I think I will be okay for the most part,” Knowles said.

The track and field facilities at Kentucky are closed until September 1, but Knowles and her roommate have been doing some training at a high school track not far from the school. She has also been doing some core workouts to stay fit.

Her team will be meeting this Wednesday to discuss how things are going to progress with the COVID-19 situation. She knows when training resumes, they will be training in different groups instead of full team training sessions.

She expects to run the short sprints along with the sprint hurdles.

“COVID-19 had a huge impact on me,” Knowles said. “It took away a lot of events that I was excited for like prom and graduation. Then I come to my first year of college and everything is so different and we don’t know how, when and if we are going to have track meets when the season starts. We cannot train how we normally train. As you go on, you get a little bit used to it and it teaches you that when life throws you lemons you make lemonade – you have to expect the unexpected and adjust to the new environment. I guess I am handling it pretty well. I am not letting it overwhelm me.”

This past shortened season, Knowles battled an injury that stemmed from the 2019 NACAC (North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association) Under-18 Championships in Queretaro, Mexico. She managed to get a few races in earlier this season. However, the fierce competitor was injured and was mostly a cheerleader for what was to be her swan song at the 2020 Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS) Track and Field Championships.

“At the moment, I cannot give a percentage because with the light training I do, it (the injury) hasn’t been bothering me but I have not done any strenuous training or anything to really test it out to see how it is going to react. I have been doing some exercises to strengthen it. I am just waiting for practice to start to actually go through with the team’s trainer to figure out where I am at exactly but I’ll find that out in September,” Knowles said.

Her personal best (PB) in the 100 meters (m) sprint is 11.69 seconds and her PB in the 200m is 23.85 seconds. In the 100m hurdles, Knowles has a PB of 14.80 seconds. She has represented The Bahamas on numerous CARIFTA teams and at other junior track and field meets.

Kentucky is in one of the most competitive conferences in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I athletics – the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Knowles said she cannot wait to compete.

“I’m very excited,” Knowles said. “It’s the SEC – the biggest competition in college track and field and I thrive off competition. Iron sharpens iron so it will be good to stand next to the big dogs and push myself to the limit that I have not gone to before. In The Bahamas, I was not really getting that push that I needed with my only competitor being Anthaya (Charlton). I think this would be a good start for me to see what I can get from this experience.”

The speedy athlete added: “I just want it make it through the season injury-free. For the past two to three years, I have had some kind of injury or problem, so I pray to God that this season I do not have anything that sets me back and that I can perform to my full potential. I also hope to drop my times and work on my form and stride – just perfecting the little things that may make me more explosive and dominant on the track.”

The 18-year-old is thinking long-term as she looks to be at the top of the NCAA rankings at some point in her collegiate career. Right now, her top priority is to learn and perfect the things she knows will make her better so that in the end she can attain her goal of being number one.

Knowles misses her family, friends and Star Trackers Track and Field Club family. She has pictures of them in her possession to remind herself of her journey to Lexington, Kentucky, and she wants to perform at her best for them.

ne week of classes is already in the books for Bahamian freshman sprinter Jaida Knowles as she settles in at the University of Kentucky (UK) despite the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown her way.

Knowles received a full athletic scholarship to attend UK and is expected to compete in the sprints for the Kentucky Wildcats. She arrived on campus a few weeks ago and spent time familiarizing herself with her surroundings. Her transition was smooth; she only wished her parents had made the trip to Lexington, Kentucky.

“It wasn’t bad at all. It was actually pretty smooth,” said Knowles. “The only bad part about it was not having my parents to come over because of COVID-19 and the lockdown, and travel restrictions. I have an aunt that lives in-state and that helped me, so it was a smooth process. I have been trying to navigate myself around the campus and familiarize myself with it. I haven’t been going out much because of the COVID-19 situation. I leave to get food, go to class and to the store.”

Assisting Knowles with her transition is her former St. Augustine’s College (SAC) schoolmate and current teammate at Kentucky, sophomore quarter-miler Megan Moss.

Knowles said the most difficult part of the transition for her so far has been the food. She said she misses her mother’s peas n’ rice, and macaroni and cheese.

The biology major has an 18-credit hour load which she said is a lot for a freshman as the maximum is 19 hours. As a result of COVID-19, four of her classes are online and three are both online and in-person. The 2020 SAC graduate noted that coming down to the end of her senior year in high school she finished classes online, so it prepared her for this semester.

With a heavy class load that will include study hall, tutoring and practice, Knowles will be looking to adapt to college life quickly. To help her to stay abreast with the load, she has a planner and an organizer.

“I didn’t expect it to be this much, especially with track and field where we have to do tutors and study hours. Every week we have to complete a certain number of hours in the athletic department. We have to meet with tutors for each subject. I have school, study hall and a tutor schedule and in the middle of that, practice. It is a lot to take in at the moment, but I get adjusted to things quickly. I think I will be okay for the most part,” Knowles said.

The track and field facilities at Kentucky are closed until September 1, but Knowles and her roommate have been doing some training at a high school track not far from the school. She has also been doing some core workouts to stay fit.

Her team will be meeting this Wednesday to discuss how things are going to progress with the COVID-19 situation. She knows when training resumes, they will be training in different groups instead of full team training sessions.

She expects to run the short sprints along with the sprint hurdles.

“COVID-19 had a huge impact on me,” Knowles said. “It took away a lot of events that I was excited for like prom and graduation. Then I come to my first year of college and everything is so different and we don’t know how, when and if we are going to have track meets when the season starts. We cannot train how we normally train. As you go on, you get a little bit used to it and it teaches you that when life throws you lemons you make lemonade – you have to expect the unexpected and adjust to the new environment. I guess I am handling it pretty well. I am not letting it overwhelm me.”

This past shortened season, Knowles battled an injury that stemmed from the 2019 NACAC (North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association) Under-18 Championships in Queretaro, Mexico. She managed to get a few races in earlier this season. However, the fierce competitor was injured and was mostly a cheerleader for what was to be her swan song at the 2020 Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS) Track and Field Championships.

“At the moment, I cannot give a percentage because with the light training I do, it (the injury) hasn’t been bothering me but I have not done any strenuous training or anything to really test it out to see how it is going to react. I have been doing some exercises to strengthen it. I am just waiting for practice to start to actually go through with the team’s trainer to figure out where I am at exactly but I’ll find that out in September,” Knowles said.

Her personal best (PB) in the 100 meters (m) sprint is 11.69 seconds and her PB in the 200m is 23.85 seconds. In the 100m hurdles, Knowles has a PB of 14.80 seconds. She has represented The Bahamas on numerous CARIFTA teams and at other junior track and field meets.

Kentucky is in one of the most competitive conferences in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I athletics – the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Knowles said she cannot wait to compete.

“I’m very excited,” Knowles said. “It’s the SEC – the biggest competition in college track and field and I thrive off competition. Iron sharpens iron so it will be good to stand next to the big dogs and push myself to the limit that I have not gone to before. In The Bahamas, I was not really getting that push that I needed with my only competitor being Anthaya (Charlton). I think this would be a good start for me to see what I can get from this experience.”

The speedy athlete added: “I just want it make it through the season injury-free. For the past two to three years, I have had some kind of injury or problem, so I pray to God that this season I do not have anything that sets me back and that I can perform to my full potential. I also hope to drop my times and work on my form and stride – just perfecting the little things that may make me more explosive and dominant on the track.”

The 18-year-old is thinking long-term as she looks to be at the top of the NCAA rankings at some point in her collegiate career. Right now, her top priority is to learn and perfect the things she knows will make her better so that in the end she can attain her goal of being number one.

Knowles misses her family, friends and Star Trackers Track and Field Club family. She has pictures of them in her possession to remind herself of her journey to Lexington, Kentucky, and she wants to perform at her best for them.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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