Our Readers' Opinions
February 24, 2006
Queen Sophia – the toast of SVG

EDITOR: Last year, Sophia Young, a young Vincentian lass from Layou, St. Vincent and the Grenadines led Baylor University in the USA, to the 2005 NCAA Female Basketball Championship. Thanks to SVG TV Vincentians were provided with a rare treat of seeing a national, not only compete in, but also dominate an international sporting event.

The NCAA, National Collegiate Athletic Association, is the governing body for all sports in all colleges and Universities in the USA. The NCAA is also the veritable nursery of all professional sports in the USA. In 2005, the NCAA awarded Sophia Young most valuable player of the NCAA Female Basketball finals 2005 as she led her team Baylor University in rebounding and scoring en route to claiming the 2005 Championship. {{more}}

Unfortunately, the recently held 2005 National Sports Awards, for whatever reasons, did not provide the anticipated opportunity to showcase Sophia’s significant personal achievements and her contribution to the overall enhancement of our tourism product. It would therefore be both neglectful and ungrateful of us not to acknowledge the excellent promotion of SVG by both Sophia and her Vincentian flag-waving mom, Annie Christopher, at last year’s finals.

While we are willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars on tourism promotion on the major networks in the USA, we in St. Vincent seem unable to come to terms with the real value of sports and sportspersons, especially our international sportspersons. We seem reluctant to accept the fact that sports and sports tourism have been fuelling many booming economies around the world.

The failure to recognise and highlight the achievements of Sophia Young can only be explained through a lack of knowledge about her accomplishments. But that is not the case in the USA, where Sophia is duly recognised and celebrated as a true superstar, hailing all the way from Layou, St. Vincent

Consider this: Sophia was received and celebrated, along with her teammates, by President George Bush at the White House on July 20, 2005. In recognition of her exploits and superstar status, Sophia was featured on the cover of the world-renowned Sports Illustrated magazine’s March 21, 2005 issue, in a specially prepared collage.

Sports Illustrated also in recognition of the outstanding performance of the Baylor Lady Bears featured Sophia and her team mates in the Sports Illustrated’s 2005 SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR issue in December 2005; Sports Illustrated had selected six moments to remember for 2005; the other five moments to remember featured baseball superstar, Roger Clemens, Tennis’ great Roger Federer, and Auto’s Danica Patrick among others.

The international recognition and promotion continued with Sophia’s interviews promoting SVG on the ESPN network. Tar Heels coach Sylvia Hatchell also recognised Sophia as “…a great player and a great athlete.” ESPN’s analyst Dales-Schuman opined that “Sophia Young transcends the boundaries.” “She can elevate, but she has finesse. She has only played five years, but she’s smart.”

So smart and articulate is she that we tend to lose sight of the fact that Sophia is simultaneously pursuing a degree in education. Following her 2005 heroics and exploits, she was named to the Commissioner’s Honor Roll with a perfect 4.00 grade point average in the fall of 2005. No wonder local Basketball coach Wayne Williams continues to walk tall, for it was initially through his efforts that Sophia is now realising her dream.

I may be wrong, but I consider it a serious aberration when, as a Country with so few resources, we cannot find time to celebrate and reward excellence. Instead we settle for and indeed reward mediocrity as a means of encouragement.

True, we must encourage and inspire our local sportsmen and women, but what better way to achieve this than to give the highest honours and appreciation to (in this case) an outstanding young woman, who in choosing a degree in education, chose a Christian path, continues to excel on and off the Court and continues to provide invaluable opportunities for promoting our Country?

G E M Saunders