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Questions for Curtis Pride, president of the Bahamas Track and Field Coaches Association

The Bahamas: Small country, great athletes

Published: May 13, 2013

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On Saturday, we sat down with Curtis Pride, newly elected president of The Bahamas Track and Field Coaches Association.

The association was founded in November of 1989 and some people think it has not lived up to its mandate. One thing that was noticed with the new president is his e-mail. It is prideserves@gmail.com. The “serves” in the e-mail is a philosophy of life that the new president believes in. Here are the questions put to Pride and his answers. We failed to mention to him the performance incentives put in place some three years ago for coaches of junior athletes who win medals.

1. What has been your background in track and field as an athlete and a coach?

I was the first athlete from South Andros ever to make a junior national team, and win an international medal. I won the silver medal at CARIFTA then the gold medal at Junior CAC (Central American and Caribbean) in 1988, both in triple jump. As a full scholarship athlete for Morgan State University (MSU), I was a consistent medalist at the conference and regional level. I played a major role in helping Morgan win its first ever MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) men’s championship title. Thereafter, I spent two years training and competing with an elite club before making the transition fully into coaching.

Coaching is the main reason I never maximized my athletic potential. Even as an athlete I was coaching. I could not help it. I was always concerned with helping others succeed. My passion for this was so strong I would help my competitors beat me, in competition. When the head coach at MSU asked me to become an assistant coach I did not hesitate to give up my competitive goals.

I served as an assistant coach at MSU and head coach of Dunbar High School in Baltimore before returning home. After returning home, I spent a short time at St. John’s College before reviving the Ambassadors Athletic Club. After a few successful years of coaching under Ambassadors which included the honor of being named to serve as a coach with three junior national teams, I left coaching. I returned two years ago after more than six years away from the sport. I am now coaching again with Ambassadors and developing an elite training program.

2. The coaches association was formed in 1999 and Rupert Gardiner was elected as the first president. It has had some challenges since its inception. What made you decide to seek the leadership?

I was asked by some of my colleagues who recognized the need for the association and was searching for a leader who could re-structure and re-brand the organization in the best interest of all coaches and further advancement of the sport. At first I said no because the politics of the sport had contributed heavily to the long break I took from the sport, and It did not seem to align with my personal goals. However, as I listened and watched, the desire to help others succeed re-emerged. Our sport and coaches are faced with many challenges. Many of my colleagues want the same things I am seeking. We want athletic coaching to be recognized and respected as a vocation and equal opportunity to all. I decided to lead because I want to be integral in shaping the future of sports coaching in The Bahamas.

3. What are your goals as president?

As you noted above, the association faced many challenges since its inception. When we (the current executive board) looked at the history and the current realities of the association, three negatives are obvious: There has being no real continuity in the business of the association; the association has never earned much respect among the stakeholders of our sport, and it always seemed to be a club for a small group of “elite coaches” - an exclusive club.

In my short two-year term as president, I will lead the way toward three main goals focused on securing the future of the association. Please note that these are not my goals - they are ‘our’ goals. They are: to restructure the association to support athletics coaching as a vocation; to rebrand the association into a professional organization and to develop a five-year strategic plan to ensure proactive governance, productivity and growth.

4. We have a few coaches concentrating on long-distance running and field events. What does your association plan to do to rectify this?

We have already decided that both are primary areas of focus, but we’re still in the process of planning what to do. We plan to engage the coaches concerned, to hear their needs and ideas before finalizing our plans. We do know though that the plan will include better recruitment of athletes, more resources and good incentives for throwing and distance coaches.

5. Is there anything you are excited about?

I’m excited about eight-year-old Ashely whose natural running abilities amaze me, 11-year-old Christian who despite a great physical challenge is transforming into an awesome athlete, the passion of Kelsey and Maya for running, the intensity of Juliette in competition, Angel and Vernique’s commitment to learning, Brian who seems poised to jump farther than I did as a junior, Andretti and Zhivago and Francis who believe in my ability to prepare them for the 2016 Olympics. I am excited about the opportunity to help each of them succeed. Their potential and performances excited me.

6. Who are the other members of your executive committee?

Rupert Gardiner, 1st vice president; Felix Seymour, 2nd vice president; Jason Edwards, secretary general; Shaun Miller, treasurer; Greg Cash, assistant secretary general; and Fritz Grant, David Ferguson and Wendell Collie, board members.

7. What are your views and the association’s views in education and training of coaches?

Both are the same. Education is important but it does not only result from studying theory. Experience gained through application is equally important. Individual coaches must continually seek education, and training/learning should never stop. Our association must standardize a learning pathway for its members toward ensuring a standard level of competency and accountability at each level of coaching. However, it must do all it can to facilitate development and training so it is available and affordable to all.

8. Mandate of the association should be to be inclusive of coaches throughout the entire Bahamas - all of New Providence and the Family Islands. Are this executive’s plans any different from the former executive’s plans?

I am not able to speak about the former plans because I have not ever seen any, but here’s a part of the new plan: The empowerment of Family Island coaches is a priority in our strategic plan that’s being developed. We will be mainly focused on educating and equipping at least one coach in all of the major Family Islands. We will also help facilitate and support a coaches association in Grand Bahama. This is a part of the responsibility that is being appointed to Felix Seymour (from Grand Bahama) who was elected to our executive board as 2nd vice president. We expect him to play a vital role in engaging his colleagues in the vision of the association. We also plan on actively engaging the Family Island rep who has already been appointed but not yet announced publicly in making sure the voice of all island coaches are heard, and their needs met. We will ensure that we have island participation in all our initiatives.

9. Financing is so important to any organization. It is no different for the coaches association. Will your association embark on anything different from the past?

We understand that there is an adequate amount of funds available through a number of local and international organizations that we can access. The challenge is gaining these organizations’ trust by demonstrating good operations inclusive of financial integrity. We intend to achieve this. In addition, there are a number of opportunities to earn income for the association through fundraising and some special athletic events we plan to promote and manage. We are starting with very little but we will work hard and smart, to ensure that there’s money in our account to fund the association’s future work.

10. Most coaches in my opinion wish to be members of the national teams. What is your view on this?

This is true because it has become the culture and remains the main award for a coach’s performance. Making a national team makes a coach feel successful and special. Not making the team makes one feel the opposite. If we didn’t provide different ways to measure their performances, recognize their achievements and reward coaches for their service, many would decline coaching teams. It’s not so easy for coaches with corporate careers and family responsibilities to travel.

11. How do you see the coaches association working with the BAAA?

In collaboration to do the following: promote coaching in The Bahamas so as to improve the quality of performance and the level of participation in track and field; encourage the accreditation, training and testing of persons to become qualified coaches and arrange for the proper regulation of such activities; develop the coaching of track and field within clubs, schools and any other institutions; safeguard the professional integrity and image of the association and its members and represent the interests of coaching and coaches in the decision-making processes affecting the association.

Thank-you so much and good luck!

• Pride was busy on Saturday coaching athletes of the Ambassadors Track Club during the Fritz Grant Invitational, organized by the club.

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