August 31, 2012
Vincentian athletes receive scholarships to play basketball at US schools

Three Vincentian athletes, Akeem Smart, Marie-Ann Frederick and Sheldeen Joseph have been awarded two-year basketball scholarships in the United States.{{more}}

Smart, who stands at 7 feet, and the 6 feet 3 inches Frederick will attend the Maco Community College in Nebraska.

Joseph, who is 5 feet 7 inches and “very skillful with the ball” did not receive a full scholarship and will be attending the Sauk Valley Community College in Chicago, Illinois.

Both Smart and Frederick left here on Saturday, while Joseph, who is in Tortola, will arrive in the United States at a later date.

Speaking at a Ministry of Sports press conference on Thursday, August 23, Smart and Frederick expressed gratitude to the individuals responsible for awarding them the opportunity.

The athletes also said they will do their best in their studies, as well as on the basketball court.

On congratulating the athletes, Minister of Sports Cecil Mc Kie said the scholarships are a clear indication of the government’s commitment to making sports central in the development of the youths.

“We cannot simply afford to just talk the talk, we must be able to also walk the walk. So, if we indicate to the nation and give the young people that sports is going to be central we have to reflect that sports is going to be central,” he said.

Basketball Administrator, Wayne Williams, who negotiated the scholarships, said he was encouraged by government’s policy of assisting young athletes who have represented St Vincent and the Grenadines.

All three awardees, Williams said, have represented St Vincent and the Grenadines in sports.

“I am encouraged by this… I was out of the business of sourcing scholarships for a few years. I felt guilty because for the past couple of years I walked around Kingstown and I saw person who I know who had the ability to utilize sports, in particular basketball to realize their full potential…” Williams said.

He further explained that the athletes are gaining from a long history and “we are depending on them with this second attempt to put things back on track.”

“We are depending on them to do what persons like Oral Roberts and Randolph “Sticky” Williams did, which is going up and performing to the best of their ability not just on the basketball court but in the classroom.

“They will be gaining their education through their basketball skills…” Williams added.

Meanwhile, the mothers of Smart and Frederick told SEARCHLIGHT they are proud of their children’s accomplishment and thanked all those responsible for their selection.

Smart’s mom, Patricia Baptise, told SEARCHLIGHT that playing basketball at the professional level has always been her son’s dream.

“Getting this scholarship to play the sport he loves is a step in the right direction for him. I thank God for this opportunity for him to go out there and pursue his dream,” Baptiste said.

Paulina Jack, explained that her daughter, Marie-Ann started playing netball in secondary school before diverting to basketball.

“Every time she played netball and lost, she always came home crying and I use to tell her, ‘One day you will be laughing.’ And all now she’s still laughing,” Jack said.

The mother also attributed her daughter’s success in the sport to her coach, Godfrey “Fuzzy” Harry, who she said was responsible for “moulding” the athlete.

Over 30 Vincentians have benefited from US basketball scholarship. The first recipient was Oral Roberts in 1995. (AA)