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Coach Bullard Holds Open House For Parents Of Basketball Players

By BRENT STUBBS Senior Sports Reporter bstubbs@tribunemedia.net COACH Geno Bullard Sr is no longer at Westminster College where he helped to turn the Diplomats' basketball programme into the most successful in the Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools over the past five years. Bullard has opened the Noble Preparatory Academy Inc., an accredited programme by Niagara College out of Canada, which he hope to establish as the school "Preparing Students for Success in a Changing World" at the campus upstairs in the Nassau Street Business Center. Over the Christmas holiday, Bullard held an open house for parents of basketball players whom he coached both at Westminster College and his No Bull programme as well as those who he has assisted and are currently helping to get off to school on athletic scholarships in Canada. The packed room heard from Bullard, professor Wilston Anderson, the coordinator of the College Prep and Paulette Richardson, the coordinator of the high school at Noble Preparatory Academy. Among the student-athletes returning home for the event were Rashad 'Gonzo' Morley and Marako Lundy, who are both making an impact at Niagara College and Geno Bullard Jr., who is now preparing for his transition from high school to college. "Basketball at this point is just a bonus for most of these players," coach Bullard lamented. "Basketball has allowed them to reach this far in their lives. "But it will definitely also help them to obtain a quality education, which will take them even further, which is why we have little signs upon the wall, just to make sure that any person who comes in here will see that it's not just about basketball." Bullard said he got the idea to spend time helping to groom the young basketball players because of the way he's seen them gravitate to the social ills in the country. "I'm glad for the young men that took the chance and the leap of faith and decided that they will go with coach," he stressed. "We decided that we will try something new, which was proven. "They had the courage to say if coach say it's going to work, I have the faith in my coach that it will work and so I'm going to take the chance to work with him. I want to thank them and the parents for believing in me." As the official recruiter for Niagara College, Bullard said he's been able to help more than 100 Bahamians to enroll at the college in Canada and he's looking forward to sending even more in the future through the newly formed Noble Preparatory Academy. Anderson, a former principal at Westminster College, said it was a pleasure working with the youngsters and he's looking forward to working with others at Noble Preparatory Academy. "The classes here are small, so you will get that individualized attention," Anderson pointed out. "We are picking up their weaknesses early and work along with them in improving on them." Marako Lundy, who is in his first year at Niagara College, said the experience he was taught by Bullard and at Westminster, has certainly helped him. "So far, I can say, it hasn't been a struggle, but it has been about time management," said Lundy, in giving an idea of how he's coping in his new environment. "I'm studying and playing basketball at the same time, so time management in college is a key. We play at least twice a week and sometimes we have tournaments and we have to go away. So studying and playing at the same time is tiring." To those students, who are preparing to head off to school, Lundy advised them that they will realize that "your parents are not around to get you out of bed to go to school or you are hungry. You're on your own, so you have to management that as well." In addition to playing basketball, Lundy is working part time in the Athletic Department, assisting his coach and fellow Bahamian Rashad Morley. Morley, now in his third year at Niagara College, said he's had a good experience playing on the team as the lone Bahamian and now he has Lundy as a team-mate again. "I've watched him grow into a young man over the past couple of months," Morley noted about Lundy. "It's been a good three years. Hopefully when I'm gone, Marako will take my place as the man at Niagara College." Having endured it all, Morley said the college experience is one that should not take lightly because if "you don't go to class, you won't get a grade and if you don't get a grade, you don't move on." At present, Morley is ranked as the number six player in Canada in rebounding, having dropped slightly from third. He has also been one of the top scorers in the country. Now in the 12th grade at Ridley College, just 30 minutes away from Niagara College, Geno Bullard Jr. getting ready to decide on his college future. During his tenure at the diverse school, Bullard Jr., who has established himself as the leading long jumper in high school in Canada and is ranked at about 40 in basketball, said he was able to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. He has learnt how to speak Latin, Spanish and German. "Going away to school has really helped me to grow up," he stated. "I miss my mom and dad, but I had to do what I had to do. I've been able to maintain a 2.5 GPA. I also passed my exam to go to division one college with a 21, well over the mark of 17. One of the players who left during the holiday for school was Dion Gray. His mother, Chinique Gray, expressed her "thanks to God" and she noted that coach Bullard was a "God given blessing" because the opportunity Gray received, it was only through a long effort of everybody working together. Parents like Marchello Lundy, Patrice Rolle and Avis Bullard all noted the remarkable changes they have all seen in their sons, Marako, Travis Rolle and Daniel Bullard, as a result of their involvement with Bullard Sr and they encouraged others who are looking for a programme to help mentor their children to consider Noble Preparatory Academy.

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