The 2020-2021 school year was not a good one for local school sports, as the top school leagues were not able to get their core sports underway. However, the Kingsway Academy Saints were able to get its student-athletes athletically ready throughout the year and even participated in two sports.
Athletic Director Vandyke Bethel said it was important to ensure that the school’s athletes got back on track after the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown the country in mid-March of 2020.
“It was important to get our athletes back on track. Sports isn’t something you can take a break from and you look at how COVID-19 came and we got locked down. Thank God that just before the lockdown last year and the school closed, we basically completed the athletics season. The only sport that did not happen was soccer,” Bethel said.
It was a tough school year as most institutions stayed virtual. Bethel said Kingsway had to start off virtually until it brought the athletes on campus.
“We started off the year basically virtual, doing physical education from the elementary. We found out that the Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS) wasn’t doing anything and if they had done anything, it would have been track and field. We spoke to the principal to see if it would be okay if we can start working, but we had to work virtually for the first couple of months because of the restrictions. So when we started on October 12 to work with kids doing other sports other than track and field, it was the idea to make the option available to bring all of the kids under track and field, so we could have something for them to do. That was the plan, so we went into the year hoping that is what we were going to work towards. The first event that we participated in was the Bahamas Association of Athletics Associations’ (BAAA) Odd-Distance meet. It was a good experience,” Bethel said.
Kingsway was able to take part in the different track and field meets throughout the season. March also saw the primary and high school student-athletes take part in the 2021 Interschool Golf Championships. There were five student-athletes from the school’s primary division and one from the high school. Gabrielle Pratt finished third overall in the senior girls division. Bethel said that it was key to continue the athletic development of the student-athletes because they would be behind athletically and physically, along with the other things that come in line with them developing physically as athletes.
When it came to training, the athletes were broken up into groups so as to adhere to COVID-19 protocols and restrictions.
“We put a similar strategy in place where we tried to ensure that when they got on campus, we would have made sure that we have all the sprinters working together and all the jumpers working together, like what happened at the college level in the United States. We made sure that everyone’s temperature was taken. We could not do COVID-19 tests because we do not have the resources for that. We made sure that when they were not running or jumping, that their mask was always up and persons socially distanced. It was a conscious effort by the coaches and athletes to ensure that we adhered to the COVID-19 protocols,” Bethel said.
Those coaches involved with ensuring the kids were active were Juliet Douglas-Sands, Barry Miller and John Marshall.
There was no high school soccer this past school year but two of the players – Grade 11 student Roen Davis and Grade 10 student Kenaz Swain – were called up to the senior men’s national team. The basketball players joined a club and were able to travel to the United States during the Easter to play.
As for the plans this upcoming school year, Bethel said Kingsway wants the student-athletes to get an education first and then participate in sports whenever high school sports resumes.
“This upcoming year we are trying to do some things and we are trying to be proactive. We do not know how it will look like. We want to try and pull off some events once they are approved by the school board. We want to try and work with some other schools within the BAISS if they do not do anything. We want to try and go do some things. If the government school league has something offered up and the BAISS does not, we are going to try and see how we can get our athletes involved in those ones.”
According to Bethel, Kingsway will also be looking to introduce baseball into its program. It wants to introduce baseball because presently boys don’t get scholarships for softball. It wants to be proactive so it can get its student-athletes involved in baseball, even if something has to be worked out with local baseball leagues to have the boys playing.
There has been no word as yet on the status for school sports resuming in the upcoming 2021-2022 school year. Bethel is hoping that the student-athletes can resume competition, but in a safe environment.