Top-performing Sunland Academy athletes honored

CHAMPS RECOGNIZED – The Sunland Baptist Stingers’ junior girls’ softball team was recognized as champions of the GBSSAA Churchill Tener-Knowles/Michael Moss High School Softball League during the school’s Spirit Week Athletic Awards ceremony this past Tuesday, May 25, 2021. Pictured front left is Head Coach Charleen Hamilton. Pictured at back center is school principal Devona Knowles. (PHOTO: SHAYNE STUBBS)

Stinger pride was alive and well on the campus of Sunland Baptist Academy recently.

During the culmination of the school’s “Spirit Week” this past Tuesday, May 25, the most outstanding teams and athletes from the 2019-2020 campaign were honored and presented with special awards.

The Sunland Stingers’ primary school boys’ and girls’ softball teams were recognized for remaining undefeated during the GBPSSA’s (Grand Bahama Primary School Athletic Association) Primary Softball League up to the eventual stoppage of play as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. The junior girls’ softball team was honored in front of their peers as champions of the GBSSAA’s (Grand Bahama Secondary School Athletic Association) Churchill Tener-Knowles/Michael Moss High School Softball League. 

In track and field, Adaiah Smith, Andrew Styles, Shatalya Dorsett, Kaity Pratt, Akay Lightbourne, Rejee and Reginae Bastian, Zion Bradford and Sonycko Illet received special awards for their accomplishments during the GBSSAA’s High School Track and Field Championships in February 2020. 

Other teams that received special recognition included the junior boys’ basketball team and primary school boys’ and girls’ soccer teams.

Sunland Principal Devona Knowles shared that it was important to pay special recognition to the athletes, and to hold a Spirit Week because of how overwhelming the past year and change has been. 

“We realized based on the fact that a lot happened last year with the pandemic, things didn’t go the way as we would have planned. Many of our students didn’t receive the accolades or awards due to them.

“So, this was a culmination of our Spirit Week which started Wednesday (May 19) whereby we had our students on the campus participating in various activities, such as egg and spoon races; sack races; volleyball; and basketball. It was all done following COVID-19 protocols and guidelines. 

“It was all about getting them active and renewing Stinger Pride.”

In keeping with the theme of Stinger Pride, former student-athletes, Miles and McKell Yallop served as guest speakers to encourage the current and outgoing athletes. With both students receiving athletic scholarships to their respective colleges, the brother-sister duo wanted to ensure that the school’s present athletes remain focused on their academics just as strong as their athletic ability. 

McKell graduated from Sunland in the summer of 2019. From there she went on to play soccer at the Junior College level and received her Associate’s Degree at Arizona Western College.

McKell shared remarks. “I just wanted to encourage athletes. I know it can be hard because I was one myself. I just want to encourage everyone to do their best in everything they can, and just try to make themselves and everyone around them proud.” 

Miles, who was one of the top senior high school distance runners in The Bahamas (800 meter and 1500m), transitioned onto Cowley College where he is a member of the cross-country team there. 

“Being a student-athlete is not easy at all. Obviously, school comes first and the athlete part is just additional. 

“The events are great but you also have to focus on your school work. 

“But I want to encourage you all to never settle. There’s only one person better than you and that’s yourself so always try to beat yourself, whether that’s track and field, soccer, basketball, whatever sport you play; always try to be the best you can be. That’s all anyone could ask for. 

“I have to thank the teachers and administrative staff here (at Sunland) because they helped me get where I am today,” concluded Miles.

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