By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
HEAD coaches Rolando “Lonnie” Greene and Norbert Elliott indicated how pleased they are that their Bahamian athletes have made it to the United States and can now get ready for the upcoming track and field season at the University of Kentucky and Purdue University.
Greene, the head coach of the track team that includes ‘Golden Girl’ Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie as an assistant, will have the return services of quarter-miler Megan Moss for her sophomore year and will welcome freshman sprinter Jaida Knowles.
Elliott, who moved up from being assistant to the head coach at Purdue after the departure of Greene, will see sprinter Samson Colebrooke return for his senior year that got washed away due to the coronavirus, while triple jumper Tamar Greene will be in his junior year and sprinter VinAjah Adderley will be making her freshman appearance.
There were some concerns with the border being closed, reopened and then closed again to international travel in the Bahamas because of the spike in the coronavirus, whether or not any of the student-athletes would have been affected.
Greene, who took over the Wildcats’ programme at Kentucky in 2018, said one of the first things they tried to do was to ensure that the Bahamian or foreign athletes coming into the United States were taken care off and will be able to make it to Lexington, Kentucky.
“Fortunately, Jaida holds dual citizenship as an American and a Bahamian, so it didn’t affect her at all. The only thing she had to do was to get out of Nassau before they locked the country down,” he said.
“She was already cleared by the NCAA because she was an excellent student, so she had already met all of the requirements. So the only thing was to get her out of the country. She did that a week before the lockdown and is staying with a relative in Atlanta.”
As for Moss, Greene said she had her student visa so she was set. “Her parents were very aggressive and they got her back to school before the lockdown as well. So she’s already here at school. She’s living off campus, but she’s alright.”
Greene said they wanted to make sure that they were not putting any of their student-athletes in harm’s way by not doing everything the right way and it worked in their favour.
Students at the University of Kentucky will report to school for the new term on August 17. The dorms open on August 9, but there is a requirement for those staying on campus to be quarantined before they begin classes.
With the sporting programmes in the United States, which have been affected by the shutdown since March when the coronavirus had an outburst in cases, there’s still no word on what will happen when schools reopen. The good thing is the track and field programme won’t begin until December with indoors so, by then, there should be some indication as to what will take place.
Prior to the halting of the sporting activities, Kentucky had qualified 14 athletes, including Moss, for the NCAA Indoor Championships. That meet, along with the entire outdoor season, was called off.
At Purdue, Elliott said Colebrooke remained in West Lafayette, Indiana where he attended summer classes before school was closed and he went to spend time with his relatives in Atlanta.
“He wanted to go home, but he didn’t,” Elliott said. “That was a smart decision on his path not to go because he may have had problems getting out because of the lockdown, if he had to be quarantined when he got there.”
Both Greene and Adderley were in Nassau, but Elliott said they hastily got out before the lockdown. They were then put into a two-week quarantine to get ready for their classes.
“We have one of our recruits from Trinidad & Tobago, who can’t get in until January because she didn’t have her student visa,” Elliott stated. “But none of the Bahamian student-athletes are affected.
“Right now, the Athletic Department at Purdue is focusing on the fall sports like volleyball, football and cross country. They are trying to find out how they can reschedule them because our Big Ten Conference has eliminated them.”
Elliott said at Purdue, they are just watching to see how things will unfold with Covid-19 before they can start to prepare for the Boilermakers’ indoor track and field season that normally start in December.
With the team they have on paper, Elliott said he’s looking forward to Colebrooke and Greene to compete very well next year and eventually making the Bahamas’ team for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
The games would have been taking place at this time, but was rescheduled for next year due to the spread of the coronavirus. Moss had been billed by Greene as a contender to make the women’s team for the Bahamas.
Only time will tell what will happen once schools open up and NCAA make a ruling on how they will proceed with their sporting programmes