By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
IT was a proud moment for the St Anne's Bluewaves and the Blue Chip Throwers Club as one of their student-athletes Acacia Astwood signed her name on the dotted line of a full four-year scholarship to participate as a member of the Rebels athletic team at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Flanked by her mother Shenika Astwood, younger sister Alicia, BCTC's coach Corrington Maycock, Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations secretary general Drumeco Archer, St Anne's High School faculty and some of her classmates, Astwood said she's looking forward to taking her talent to the next level and UNLV is the ideal division one institution to further enhance her skills.
"The team is basically family-oriented, which is how it is here at home and they have the academic resources for me to succeed," said Astwood, who intends to pursue a degree in sports medicine coming from a strong background in science, referring to herself as a geek with a passion for sports medicine.
"There is life after school and competing, so I wanted to make sure that they can cater to my needs. I believe the Bahamas needs more people to go out there and help athletes because I don't think that there is enough support."
While it has only been two years that she's switched from running track to throwing the discus and shot put, Astwood said she's accomplished far more than a lot of athletes who have been competing longer than her.
Her résumé includes making three national teams.
Astwood, 17, participated in the past two CARIFTA Games in Curacao last year where she obtained a bronze medal in the under-18 girls' discus and she finished fourth in the under-20 division here at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium over the Easter holiday weekend.
Last year, she also represented the Bahamas at the Youth Commonwealth Games here at home.
She has produced lifetime achievements of 45.27 metres or 148-feet, 6-inches in the discus and 10.60m (34-9 1/4) in the shot put and as she prepares to go to school to improve on those feats and return more polished for next year's CARIFTA Games, Astwood admitted that she will miss Maycock and the way he "jokingly" made the practice sessions so much fun.
It's the culmination of a two-year journey that Maycock said he was pleased to have orchestrated for Astwood to follow.
"It was a goal that she wanted to achieve from she started track and field," stressed Maycock, who provided the avenue for Astwood to pursue as she made the transition in the sport.
"Right now, I'm elated to to know that although she didn't succeed on the track side, she did it on the field.
"This is a life dream come true, to bring kids into this type of environment and watch them develop where they can now sign four-year scholarships."
Indicating that he has finally completed his commitment to Astwood, Maycock said he will turn his attention to assisting as many more student-athletes in their goals to go off to college and university in the future.
"That's what my club is all about, making sure that all of our athletes reap this kind of reward," he told Tribune Sports.
"It's a big achievement for the club. It also speaks volumes for her and her family and all of the support that they gave to what she is doing. I just hope that the success continues. I think she will be a lot of big things and hopefully 2020 (Olympic Games) will speak for itself."
Through the support of Maycock, Shenika said she's a very proud mother watching the college signing of her oldest daughter, Acacia.
"I'm very proud of Acacia. She has accomplished a lot in such a short period of time," she reflected. "I'm so thankful for all the doors that have been opened for her, especially the doors that coach Corrington Maycock has helped to be opened for her.
"It's truly a blessing. I can say I'm her biggest cheerleader and I will also be her biggest cheerleader wherever she goes. I'm looking for great things from Acacia. I've always told her that her academics comes first and all the throwing is just the gravy. So I hope to retire pretty soon."
But she noted that she's not done yet because she still has her 12-year-old daughter Alicia, whom she hopes will follow in the footsteps of Acacia. "I feel proud of her because she's been through a lot," said the seventh grader at St Anne's, who will begin training for the javelin this summer. "I just feel proud of her and I know she will inspire me a lot."
When asked if she will miss her big sister, she noted: "Not really, but I guess a little bit."
Archer said it's stories like this one that has made the difference in the BAAA. "This is in keeping with the general philosophy of the federation and that is to promote this idea that sports change lives," Archer said.
"When you look at Acacia, she's a first generation to have gone off to university, so this is the beginning of the very same beliefs that we have been promoting since I was an athlete. "I understand the value of not just being an athlete, but a great student-athlete. We want to create good wholesome citizens and I believe that Acacia has demonstrated all of those attributes and so I'm looking forward to some great successes from her."
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