Over the past 20 years Tabernacle Baptist Christian Academy has become one of the most prominent institutions on the island and now there is full recognition in the wider country.
That point was solidified this past Saturday when the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture (MYSC) recognized the Falcons as the National Secondary Athletic School of the Year at their Awards Gala held in New Providence, at SuperClubs Breezes.
The MYSC’s awards ceremony recognized the best of the best from around the nation and included awards such as the Prime Minister Female Athlete of the year, won by Shaunae Miller-Uibo; Federation of the Year, won by the Bahamas Basketball Federation; and Most Improved Athlete, won by Grand Bahamian and Connecticut Suns’ center Jonquel Jones.
It was quite the year for the Falcons who repeated as Hugh Campbell Basketball Tournament Champions and secured their first-ever National High School Basketball championship. They also made a strong appearance in the National High School Soccer Championships, as the senior boys placed fourth. The Falcons also continued their reign as the local high school champions of track and field, with notable performances put on at the National High School Track and Field meet and they had the most athletes named to the 2018 CARIFTA Team.
Also of note, The Falcons in winning the award, ended St. Augustine’s College (SAC) three-year reign as the top secondary school in athletics.
Despite not having the largest number of students Tabby has become synonymous in the athletics arena and also in the academics category in the country. Holding a prestigious honor induced a moment of reflection for current principal Edward Johnson.
The Freeport News caught up with Johnson this past Tuesday, where he discussed what the award means for the institution.
Initially, Johnson spoke highly of the ceremony and credited the organizers for putting on a worthwhile three-hour program.
“It was almost like an Academy Award environment. Our school has managed to keep a close-knit nucleus of coaches over the years. I give credit to the students, faculty and staff at the school for their diligence in sports over the last 20-plus years. The school is now in a much bigger phase in developing their athletes.
“We see sports at the school, as not just putting teams together but at developing programmes and we develop those programmes for the long-run. If we have to make a difficult short-term decision for the long-run we’ll make that.
“And we see that the concept, our dedication; our attention to details in trying to find the best opportunities for our students at the next level; all that coming together at that awards ceremony really made it feel like all of our hard work really paid off. It was a very emotional experience, (winning the award), because I know the hard work everyone put in.
“We have to give God the credit because God has really been good to this school. And, then the students, the athletes we managed to get, have been really good. The coaches that we’ve managed to get have been really good, and the staff has co-operated, for sports at this school to take off. This is the greatest athletic award we’ve received to date,” He said.
TBCA has afforded countless student-athletes opportunities to receive college offers and earn degrees through its athletic programmes. That’s one aspect Johnson would love to see continue for any student who walks the halls of the Tabernacle, he noted.
“Over the course of the years, to see so many of the athletes go off and get degrees - even the ones that stay at home - when you bump into them at the workplace, and you interact with them and you see how well they’re doing, you feel this sense of pride.
“Right now going off this past year, with Franco Miller Jr. receiving a scholarship to a Division One school (Ole Miss), and almost coming completely out of Tabernacle; is a stamp of approval that even in the competitive world of basketball, we could produce the best.
“I hope we’re able to replicate Franco’s story, whereby other athletes could come up out of Tabernacle’s system and go straight into Division One.
“We’re making strides in all our programmes, definitely in track and field. For the past few years we’ve been averaging maybe eight track and field scholarships. But, we’re making strides in the soccer programme and volleyball programme as well. So in all of our disciplines we see that we’re headed in the right direction as we build these programmes.”
Off the strength of Deputy Administrator Norris Bain’s vision for sports in Tabernacle over 30 years ago, Johnson noted that it has helped to boost the school’s reputation and they, although humbled, are confident that the trend will continue.