The Sunland Stingers have been finally able to celebrate their 2019-2020 Tip-Off Classic Basketball championship, which they won earlier this year, back in January.
The Stingers received their championship rings during a presentation ceremony held at Jubilee Cathedral this past Sunday, October 4. Also, the players and coaches were congratulated for another achievement, winning the 2020 Hugh Campbell Basketball Tournament this past February.
Stingers’ Head Coach Jay Philippe shared that due to the past restrictions and lockdowns because to the COVID-19 pandemic, he came very close to simply mailing the rings to the players. Thankfully, along with Bonnie Basden and the coaching staff, the players got a worthwhile celebration.
Philippe also expressed that not only did the team want to win for the school, but the players wanted to win for the church and Bishop Godfrey Williams, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Sunland Baptist Academy.
Thanks to the church’s endless support for the Stingers in the past, Philippe noted, celebrating with the church was, without a question, a must.
“For me personally as a coach it was a dream come true because I wanted to win for the school and also for Bishop Godfrey R. Williams. He received a ring too. He was a guy who, when I played high school basketball, he was always in the stands cheering me on as well too.
“We just really wanted to win it for the church because it means so much to the basketball team. Whenever we travel to the United States or for the Hugh Campbell Tournament, they’re the ones that funds us.
“So, to be able to reward the church by winning a championship for them, meant a lot to the program. It’s a really good feeling to be recognized among the church.”
The team also received their rings in front of Deputy Prime Minister of The Bahamas K. Peter Turnquest, District Superintendent for the Ministry of Education Ivan Butler and Acting President for the Grand Bahama Secondary School Athletic Association Derek Wells.
Philippe, the six-year head coach spoke the emotions amongst the players once they finally placed their championship rings on their fingers.
“The players were overwhelmed with joy and excitement. They were asking me for months ‘when are we getting our rings?’
“I was tempted at one point during the pandemic to ship their rings to them in Abaco or wherever they might be. But I held onto them because I wanted them to be recognized in front of the school or the church.
“It’s something special they’d remember for the rest of their lives. They were excited and I think some of them went to bed wearing them,” he said.
With the future of high school sports uncertain, Philippe closed by sharing that when the time comes he and the team are ready for the opportunity to defend both championships.
“I’m just thankful the school trusts me as the head coach and never questioned my intentions or asked what it was I wanted. Even now not being employed at the school, they still trust me to guide these young men and it’s a Christian school, that’s a big deal for me.
“I also want to thank the parents for trusting us (Philippe, Basden, Marco Cooper, Denzel Knowles), with their sons.”
The Stingers defeated the Tabernacle Falcons for the Tip-Off Classic championship, 65-45 back in January. They then moved on to defeat the C.C. Sweeting Cobras in the Hugh Campbell Basketball championship in February, by a final score of 81-68.