No Bull basketball opens doors for trio to fulfil their dreams at Niagara


Senior Sports Reporter


IT’S one thing to want to play basketball. It’s another thing to want to get a college education.

For Daniel Bullard, Terrell Tinker and Ray Stubbs, when they joined the No Bull basketball programme under the direction of coach Geno Bullard, they went there with the intention of playing the game they love.

Through Bullard, the three basketball players are fulfilling their latter dream at Niagara College in Niagara, Canada, and they are adjusting very well.

“We have a lot of students who are off to school and during Christmas, the players from our No Bull basketball camp get together and discuss what everybody is doing,” said Bullard, who had a reunion with his players at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex during the holiday.

“The older ones normally help the younger ones who are in Noble Preparatory Academy, who have the aspirations to follow them, either in playing basketball or furthering their education. These ones who are returning home are showing them that once their academic base is solid, even if they don’t want to play basketball, they can still have a future.”

The trio - Bullard, Tinker and Stubbs - all returned to Noble Preparatory Academy on Thursday where they spent some time with their coach and mentor Bullard. They were joined by their parents, who indicated that they have seen a tremendous improvement in their children since they became a part of Bullard’s programme.

“I call myself every day. It was an adjustment to see my baby, our last child, go off,” Avis Bullard said of her son, Daniel. “When coach Bullard called us and said we have to let these kids go, knowing Daniel from being an individual child who I didn’t have to do anything for him, it was quite an adjustment for me knowing that he was going off.

“But knowing the ground work that was put into him by coach Geno Bullard, I had a sense of comfortability knowing that he’s going to make it. With the ground training he had, he looks up to coach Bullard. He respects him. He is like a father figure to him.”

That respect, according to Avis Bullard, has been a neutral one in that coach Bullard has nurtured them to the point that all of his players have gone off and given a good account of themselves.

Ray Stubbs Sr said he’s extremely proud of the 360 degree turn-around that his son Ray Jr has made. “His academic and social skills have improved a whole lot since he came back,” the elder Stubbs said. “He’s like somebody different in the space of these few months. Give him a year or two over there and I will be even more amazed of what he can do and what he will become.

“I’m very proud of what he’s doing. Before he came here, he never made the grades that he made here. He was below average. Now he’s in college and he’s producing grades that have skyrocketed. It’s not a competition on the court anymore. He’s competing for his grades now. He’s trying to keep up. I saw some tremendous change in him. From 1-10, I can put him at a 10 to where he’s come from. Mr Bullard has done a great job with him before he left.”

The three players turned college students said they owe a debt of gratitude to coach Bullard.

• Ray Stubbs, an 18-year-old business marketing major who produced three As, two Bs and a C in his first semester, said:

“It was a big move in my life because I was like the second person in my family who actually went off to college,” said Stubbs, who graduated from Noble Preparatory Academy last year as the most improved student. “It was just up to me to make things better for me and my family.

“When I went up there, I was focused because I knew what I had to do and I knew people were checking up on me so I just had to do what I had to do to get things done.”

Stubbs said he never regrets the day that he decided to enter the doors of Noble Preparatory Academy.

“For me it was all about playing basketball. I wasn’t thinking about college and furthering my education,” he said. “But when I was introduced to coach Bullard, my education was the focus. It wasn’t about playing basketball anymore.”

At Niagara College, Stubbs said he feels right at home because he’s in an environment with the guys who he grew up with at Noble Prepatory Academy and they are all trying to achieve the same goals in life.

“So it’s good being around them,” he said. “It wasn’t hard adjusting. It was challenging, but not too hard. The hardest thing was being away from my mom and dad. Everybody was happy to see me because I’m the only child on my mom’s side and the first grandson. So everybody was glad to see me and they were pleased with what I’ve accomplished so far.”

• Terrell Tinker, an 18-year-old who accumulated one A, four Bs and two Cs in his studies in international business, said:

“My experience was pretty good. In my transition, I got more matured and with maturity comes with the choices you make,” Tinker said. “It makes you realise what choices are good for you and what choices are bad for you. Also, with the culture over there, I couldn’t go to classes using all the Bahamian talks. You had to be more articulate.

“I’m not saying that you have to stay away from your own kind. That leads to the choices you make. So you have to know when and how to do it. But it has also helped me to become more focused. I realised that if I was focused as I am now, I would have been much further in life. But as coach Bullard says: ‘It’s not how you start, but how you finish.’ And your parents are now there. You are on your own, so you have to make the right choices.”

Tinker said had he not made the choice to enrol in Noble Preparatory, he might be off to college right now.

“It was an awesome decision that I made,” he said. “It’s been very cold, so when I came here, I spent a lot of time with my family and partying because I’m so focused in Canada, I have to party over here.”

• Daniel Bullard, also 18, has one A, two Bs and a C in his studies in automobile technology. He said: “My experience has been challenging for many reasons. I went over there and experienced a whole different climate, atmosphere. It’s cold and I also had to get adjusted to a lot of things in school like doing my own work and being around a lot of distractions like girls and the guys coming over and playing games, something that I like to do.

“But it’s been motivating to see that I can go on a whole different level and do something that I like to do and be successful in it. I made the basketball team, but I watched a lot of guys who came there and were trying all their lives for their opportunity. Through coach Bullard and my family and friends, I was able to come out on top. So I’m thankful for that.”

On the team, Bullard said he encounters a whole different ball game where he is forced to apply a lot of the skills that he has learned and at the same time adjust to new team-mates, although he has been blessed to be reunited to Marako Lundy, who is now into his second year at Niagara College.

“We kind of build our chemistry together and distributed it among the team,” Bullard said. “It’s been going good. There’s no slacking off. If you show up one minute late to practice, that’s a mark towards you getting cut. So it’s real disciplined. And you still have to focus on your school work. You have to get your work in on time. It’s not the coach’s responsibility. So time management is the biggest thing.”

The Niagara College currently holds a 7-3 win-loss record going into the remainder of the season and as a small forward, Bullard said he has been trying to hold his own.

“With me getting more time to play, I’m looking to carry the team through the playoffs and hopefully we can win this year,” he said.

Back home for the holidays, Bullard said he’s glad for the hot climate but, at the same time, he has been trying to “stay away from the negative influences and staying out of trouble because the boys over here know that we are in college and they don’t want to see us become successful. They want us to be just like them, so I have to hang with people who will help me and not degrade me.”

The three are scheduled to return to Canada next week Wednesday. But before they do, they are leaving some parting words for those still behind here at home.

“Just stay focused and do what you have to get what you want,” Stubbs said.

Noted Tinker: “Stay away from negative influences because people don’t like to see you make it. You have to be strong minded and know what you want in life.”

And added Bullard: “When proper planning meets proper preparation, it equals success.”

Like the three players, Bullard said his Noble Preparatory Academy is there to assist any parent with a child who they want to groom in an environment that ensures that they get an opportunity to get a college experience, if they are willing to go the extra mile.

For those interested, Bullard encourages them to visit their website: www.npabahamas.com, check out their facebook page: Noble Preparatory Academy Bahamas or call 676-0055 for more information.


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