Without question there are a number of athletes in the country that embody the true identity of a student-athlete.
The Tabernacle Falcons are among that group that shine center stage when the game is on the line, all while ensuring they make the grade in the process.
It was recently brought to The Freeport News’ attention that the starting five for the Falcons have obtained five or more of their BGCSEs. Team captain and potential Grand Bahama Sports.com Student-Athlete of the year award winner Desmond Butler has done what most students would feel excited and accomplished about; passing all of his BGCSE examinations in the 11th grade.
Members of the media met with Butler, teammate Alfredo Brown, who has five BGCSe examinations already passed, school principal Edward Johnson, School Administrator Norris Bain and Falcons’ head coach Kevin Clarke this past Tuesday.
Butler, the 12th grade point guard for the Falcons is also a track and field athlete for the school. More than just an athlete, Butler found that the educational part of his athletic journey is the most essential to his development and long-term plans for the future. With all of his BGCES examinations in his rearview and a cumulative grand point average of 3.70 and above, it’s more than evident that the aspiring Mechanical Engineer is on the right path.
“It’s extremely important because I’m looking to get a scholarship. So in order to do that I would have to do well in both my academics and athletics. Right now I’m looking at Milligan College in Tennessee and TSU - Texas Southern University.”
It’s no cakwalk keeping up with your studies while fulfilling athletic obligations on a daily basis. But nonetheless the GBSSAA Player of the Year found a way to excel at both, further than anyone could imagine.
“It was kind of hard because when I was taking my BGCE’s I took mostly all in one year. So I had plenty of classes along with practices. What kept me going was mentally saying I could do it and just keep pushing and I was able to excel in both with hard work.”
Being a team captain means leading by example. What made Butler’s job relatively easier was having a group of guys that all shared the same mindset in the class and on the court.
“Everyone has the same mindset as me when it comes to academics and athletics so it’s not really much I have to do in terms of making sure they stay on top of their game.”
Brown currently has five of BGSEs with only two left to take in a few months. As current head boy at Tabernacle there are no days off as he too shares the sentiments as his backcourt mate.
“It’s important to stay focussed in class and to stay focussed on the court. You just have to have the mindset to go hard to be successful.”
As an athlete it’s natural that their main focus will be how they perform in competition. But the future architect’s advice to his peers was simple and an age old saying and that’s your education is what you fall back on.
“Focus more on education. Because if you focus more on basketball, you may end up with a career ending injury and then you don’t have anything to fall back on. So education is more important.”
The Falcons’ basketball programme is something that has been developing for over 20 years and Johnson voiced that chief among their success on the hardwood was getting the players to understand that they could succeed in both academics and athletics.
Former Tabernacle Falcon Franco Miller Jr successfully achieved getting all As in his BJCs as an eighth grader, which is a trend Johnson felt caught on with players around him.
“I think it stimulated the rest of the guys to understand that not only could they be stars on the court but they could be stars in the classroom. And since then most of the boys in the classroom have been passing their BJCs and BGCSEs early. The starting five right now, all of them already have five or more of their BGCEs.
“So when it comes to the clearing house and qualifying for scholarships they qualify and they are also doing well with the ACT classes.”
The Tabernacle Baptist Christian Academy centers their efforts around building their students in every facet (spiritually, academically and athletically). Johnson could wholeheartedly say that he is proud of what the guys continue to do on and off the court.
“They are real leaders and they have set an incredible standard for boys in the future. All boys coming into the programme realize they have to get the BJCs, the SATs and be very disciplined on the court and that’s a combination for success.”
For 30 years Bain has been at the epicenter of Tabernacle. Understanding that all young people have their weak points he stated the importance of making sure that they understand the importance of making the right choices.
“The main thing is trying to get them to understand that it’s more to life than basketball. You can be a well rounded person, you want to get your academics together along with the athletics and that’s very important. Because there’s going to come a time in life when you will not be able to run as fast or jump as high.
“You’re going to have to rely on more things than just physical ability.”
Ensuring that the students keep up to standard is a daily thing and Bain further noted it is something he and staff at Tabernacle cannot lay off of.
“It’s work. Like anything else you have to work it every day that the good Lord gives you. Each day you come here you have to remind them that it’s more than just basketball you have to do your school work. And so we have to be happy that the message has sunk deep inside and that’s the order today; if you don’t do your school work, if you do not behave, there are some consequences for that action. And we just make sure to follow through with whatever we say that we’re going to do when it comes to the academic side of it. And that’s why so many of them have experienced academic success and the epitomize what you talk about as a student-athlete.”