By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
FROM running the floor as a shooting guard at the high school, collegiate and national level, Sasha Ferguson has emerged as the first athletic trainer at the College of the Bahamas.
The College of the Bahamas welcomed the 2005 St Augustine’s College graduate to its Athletic Department as a well qualified candidate, having secured a bachelor of science degree in biology with a minor in liberal arts from the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma (USAO) where she graduated in 2009.
Ferguson, 27, who was a shooting guard for the Bahamas Basketball Federation women’s national team, said her new role at COB is one that she embraces with great expectations.
“I feel very good about it. I’m very excited to be here. I’m excited that COB has found the need to appoint an athletic trainer for their athletic programme and they see the importance of it,” Ferguson said. “I know that athletic training in the Bahamas is not very popular. It’s something that is mandatory in the United States, but here it’s now beginning to grow and people are now seeing the need for it. So I’m excited to be here and I’m excited to assist the programme in keeping these athletes healthy, educating them on how to keep their bodies healthy so that they can perform on the court and on the field as I help the college move into university status.”
While at USAO, Ferguson obtained a master of science degree in athletic training from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2012 and became a National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) board certified athletic trainer in May that same year.
During her time in the state of Oklahoma, Ferguson contributed her knowledge and expertise to Valir Physical Therapy Clinic and worked with US Olympic men’s and women’s rowing teams. She also served as a graduate assistant athletic trainer at the University of Central Oklahoma, primarily working with the men’s basketball, football and women’s volleyball teams.
On October 13, Ferguson joined COB’s staff as the first full-time athletic trainer and athletic director Kimberley Rolle called it a red letter day for the programme.
“As the athletics department grows, it’s important for us to build capacity,” Rolle said. “I believe having Sasha as the full-time athletic trainer is certainly a move in that direction. We anticipate fully that athletics training will evolve as a unit rather than a person and our expectation is that Sasha will play a critical role in this process.”
Rolle noted that as COB transitions to university status, the Athletic Department will aggressively pursue affiliation with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and such affiliation requires appropriate staffing within the department.
“There are inherent injury risks in sports, therefore, having an athletic trainer on staff to adequately provide the attention needed for our student-athletes is critical to our success,” said Rolle. “A major part of Sasha’s responsibility is to educate our athletes on how to care for their bodies. As much as possible, we’d like to avoid injuries but in cases where there are injuries, she will have to ensure that our athletes have access to appropriate care and rehab to ensure that they are back on the field, court or track in the shortest possible time.”
The 27-year-old Ferguson will play a significant role in keeping the athletes fit on the men’s basketball team, the men’s soccer team, women’s softball, women’s volleyball and the men and women track and field teams.
“I’m here to treat the athletes in the event that something does happen,” she said. “There’s always that inherent risk of an injury in any particular sport, so I’m here to assist in that and get them back to 100 per cent so that they can be successful in whatever sport they participate in.”
Having just taken up her office space in the Wellness Centre on the campus in Oakes Field, Ferguson said she hasn’t had the chance to work on any particular problem as yet. But she’s having an awesome experience so far, building and placing her stamp on what is expected to be a vibrant and important aspect in the life of COB.
“I’ve always been an athlete, but when I was in Oklahoma playing basketball, I tore my ACL playing basketball in my junior year, but I stayed in the athletic training room,” she recalled. “Since that time, I had a newfound relationship for what athletic trainers do. So I’m now very passionate about it and I’m excited about moving from athlete to athletic trainer. I’ve been hurt and so when I tell them that if they do what I tell them do, they can be able to return to playing and being successful as an athlete.”
As for the game itself, Ferguson said she missed running up and down the court, but she’s eager to be in a position to pass on her expertise to those now competing.
“I will also have a love for sport and basketball in particular,” she said. “It’s always been my first love, so I will miss it.”
With her hands full right now in her new role, Ferguson said if she has a chance to move up the line and become a basketball coach, she’s not ruling out the possibility of taking her court awareness to the next level. But in the meantime, her goal is to ensure that the COB athletes stay fit and healthy.