Rarely is the administrative aspect of sports recognized in The Bahamas like how it should be. Locally, a lot of the hard work put in by the leaders of their respective sports has gone unnoticed and for the most part is unappreciated. Bahamians just like to see results, no matter who is in charge, and often blame the administration when something goes wrong; and never gives credit when there is success.
It is one of those jobs that reaps little to no rewards at the end of the day.
In the case of Thora Sweeting, there are few leaders who have served longer than her in presidential roles of major sporting bodies in the country. She is the first and only female president of the Bahamas Government Departmental Softball Association (BGDSA), its longest-serving president and one of the more accomplished leaders of local sports in The Bahamas.
Saturday past, she was recognized for the first time since demitting office 10 years ago. This year, being the 40th anniversary of the BGDSA, incumbent president Dwayne Stephens thought it would be fitting to honor Sweeting and show their love and appreciation for the work that she did in slow-pitch softball and sports in general in the country.
Sweeting was presented with a lifetime achievement award, sponsored by Demeritte’s Funeral Home, during a formal ceremony on Saturday evening at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. It is the first time that anyone has been presented with a lifetime achievement award by the BGDSA.
“I just want to extend my gratitude to the President Dwayne Stephens and his executive team, the sponsors, coaches and players in the league. It was truly a surprise because I was not expecting to receive anything from them. For everything that I have done, I have never looked for anything in return, but this shows that my hard work is not in vain and is appreciated. It’s been a long journey, and I’m just thankful.”
Sweeting, the sixth president of the association, served for 12 years and six consecutive terms as president of the BGDSA from 1997 to 2009. Given the outstanding work that she put in from year to year, she was often returned unopposed. Previously, she served as public relations director in the league.
Now, despite not serving in the top administrative spot, Sweeting still assists with the day-to-day running of the league. She also assists with the running of the Bahamas Softball Federation (BSF) – the governing body of softball in the country. Sweeting is working with the federation to stage a major invitational tournament next spring.
“I will continue to assist any of the softball leagues where I can, but I will no longer serve as president. It’s just too much work right now,” she said. “When I first became president, it wasn’t hard at all because of all the preparation I had leading up to my time. It was just a matter of calling up my contacts and asking for assistance, but now it’s too much work. I have not walked away from the game – whenever I am called upon to assist, I will. I give 110 percent at all times and I still love the sport,” she added.
Sweeting credits the late Dr. Norman Gay as the one who got her intricately involved in the administrative sphere of slow-pitch softball in the country. During the league’s first season in 1979, she was a player with the now defunct NIB Labour Queens. Since then, she served under former presidents Burkett Dorsett, former Speaker of the House of Assembly Alvin Smith and Brad Smith before assuming the presidency herself and going on to produce a career that is worthy of national and international hall of fame recognition.
As for incumbent President Stephens, he has already said that this will be his last term in office. He plans to step down next year. Be that as it may, Sweeting said that she has no plans to offer herself for the presidency again. For the moment, her focus is on the BSF Invitational Tournament scheduled for the Bankers Field at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex in March of 2020. A number of the Out Islands will be invited to participate, and the three-day weekend event will be held in aid of hurricane relief for those inhabitants of Abaco and Grand Bahama affected from the passing of Hurricane Dorian at the beginning of September. The weekend of activities will get underway with a kids night on the Friday of the tournament and climax with a concert and Junkanoo rushout that Sunday.
The lady, who has already given most of her life to the sport, just cannot stay away, and it’s so fitting that she is being recognized and honored for the hard work that she has put in over the years.