Coach Philippe laments loss of Tip-off Classic this season

TOURNAMENT SUSPENSION WOES – Sunland Stingers Head Coach Jay Philippe said that while is understands that the safety of the student-athletes takes precedent, during the pandemic he is disappointed that a number of the athletes are losing the opportunity to truly display their talents with hopes of gaining athletic scholarships. (PHOTO: TFN FILES)

Recently, there was an announcement that the high school sports program has been suspended for the upcoming fall semester. Coaches have made it clear that they understand why that decision was made by the Ministry of Education’s sports unit. 

Here on Grand Bahama, that means the Grand Bahama Secondary School’s Athletic Association’s biggest basketball tournament, the Tip-off Basketball Classic, will be placed on hold. 

The Tip-off Basketball Classic is annually contested in October. Although it’s a preseason tournament it typically gives spectators an idea of what they can expect from the top teams on the island as they press toward the regular season.  

Head coach of last year’s champions, the Sunland Stingers, Jay Philippe, spoke with The Freeport News and shared that the safety of the student-athletes takes precedent. Nonetheless, he touched on the aspect of the athletes losing the opportunity to truly display their talents with hopes of gaining athletic scholarships. 

“I understand that the safety of our student-athletes is first and foremost. But in all reality, we have some athletes who rely heavily on their athleticism. Athletics is their gateway to universities, jobs and helping them cope with handling life. 

“So, for me personally it’s going to be tough because I have two athletes, Deandre Hield and Demetrius Douglas, who would have drawn interests from universities in the United States, and, needed more time to develop.”

Philippe added that he usually sells the Tip-off Classic to coaches in the US as one of the biggest tournaments in the country. With the Tip-off Classic now suspended, he noted, those US coaches won’t be able to see or hear about what the players were able to accomplish. Philippe furthered that he usually uses this tournament to build stats and get videos so the coaches can begin looking at the players.  

“The coaches will now be in a position where they won’t be able to hear (or see) what these guys would have done. This now means their chances of getting into universities or colleges are little bit more difficult.

“This is the time coaches in the U.S., look for players and this is a major recruiting period early in the season, so they can see who they want and who they may be looking for as the season progresses.  

“Even as for other players from different schools, who came from Abaco, not having the Tip-off Classic, it's just a difficult period for players, athletes and coaches, as well, too.”

The six-year head coach then said he hopes a conversation could be had with the sports unit in the near future.

“We’re going to have to find a way to get all of these players to the next level. It’s extremely difficult to cope with but we can only prepare as best as we can,” he concluded. 

The Stingers became Tip-off Classic champions back in January of this year, and later won the 2020 Hugh Campbell Basketball Tournament in February. It was the first time the team won both tournaments.

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