The Grand Bahama Secondary School Athletic Association has their work cut out for them, but president Kenton Rolle voiced recently the local high school sporting association is up for the challenge.
As announced during a special meeting held this past Tuesday, October 15, at the St. George’s High School, the GBSSAA’s schedule of events will kick off this coming week with it’s high school volleyball season.
Set for a 3:45 p.m. start, day one of the 2019 season will feature a slate of junior and senior boys games. The Sunland Stingers will take on the Lucaya International Buccaneers in junior boy’s action, followed by the Tabernacle Falcons going head-to-head with the Bishop Michael Eldon Warriors.
In senior boy’s play, the Stingers will go one-on-one with the Buccaneers, followed by the Falcons going up against the Warriors.
In the interim, the private school teams will be the focus of the season. As government schools are due back to their respective halls today, October 17, they will be granted one week of practice time before being integrated into the schedule.
This coming Tuesday the junior and senior girl’s teams for the aforementioned private schools will take center court, starting at 3:45 p.m.
This past Tuesday’s meeting marked the GBSSAA’s first official meeting since the passage of Hurricane Dorian. The destruction left in the historic category five storm’s wake has, to a degree, set the association’s calendar of events back. However, Rolle expressed it was important to get the athletes back into the competitive arena.
“We cannot wait any longer to start our sporting season. We cannot wait for every single school to reopen to begin the sporting season.
“We’ve been in contact with the Ministry of Education in Grand Bahama and also Evon Wisdom in Nassau keeping them abreast of the sporting season, the availability of the gyms, the fields. So the communication has been ongoing and they know we are ready to start regardless of who is in school or not. Hopefully all of our (high) schools will be opened by next week.”
Scheduling coordinator Oswald Simmons shared that the upcoming schedule is tentative for Monday-Wednesday. From there, the schedule is expected to be lengthened.
“Once we get started then we’ll know where to go from there. Of the six private schools, the only school that hasn’t entered a team so far is Mary Star.
“We just want to get the season started because our volleyball season is typically six weeks.”
With the volleyball season shortened, Rolle added that the prospect of playing games on Saturdays will be discussed among executives and coaches.
“Normally we go six weeks for volleyball and six weeks for softball. As it stands now we can’t go six weeks for volleyball. We’re going to try and cut that time in half and go three weeks according to when government schools reopen.
“We’re going to request, I know some coaches don’t like it, but we’re going to be forced to use some Saturdays and possibly play the whole day or have one or two games scheduled for Saturday just to make up time. There will be two pools, and we’re going to try and do the same thing for softball.
“Hopefully by January we get back into the swing of things where we can have our full season of basketball, our track and field season and our full season of soccer. Basically, the only two sports that will be affected are volleyball and softball. We’ll do our best to get the maximum number of games played for those sports,” Rolle explained.
Also in that meeting, the always highly anticipated Tip-Off Basketball Classic was discussed. The long-standing preseason tournament is held annually during the month of October. However, dates for that play-off remain “up in the air.”
“We really did not want to go the school year without hosting the Tip-Off Classic. We still want to go on with it. We expect that, that schedule will also be cut in half. It won’t be a six-seven day tournament. We’ll have a weekend tournament, maybe.
“We’ll have to make some adjustments. It won’t be a regular Tip-Off Classic but I think the most important thing is to attempt to have a Tip-Off Classic.”
“It’s not an ideal time but I think those kids still need to play, and play as much as possible. We need to give those kids something to do.
“I pass parents every day in the streets and they ask when are we getting the sports started. Parents and kids have been waiting and we understand the circumstances we’re facing. But our main goal is to not win or lose games - just to get our kids out there and get them busy.”
On the topic of the Hugh Campbell Basketball Tournament, held annually in February, Rolle let the organizers of that tournament know that invitations can be sent to the schools here in Grand Bahama. The GBSSAA president assured that the teams would most definitely still want to participate but it would come down to the respective school’s coaches and principals in terms of finances.
As far as the Bahamas National High School Basketball Championships are concerned discussions will be ongoing. The national tournament has been held in the nation’s “Second City” for the past four years.