Nassau, The Bahamas — Like the rest of the world, University of The Bahamas (UB) Mingoes student-athletes have had to balance disappointment with distancing in this COVID-19 environment, withdrawing from the very interactions that have been pivotal to their growth and success.
To stay conditioned, home life has been infused with the routines they used to do on the field, at the track and at the gym. The COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing protocols to curb the spread of the disease have led to the suspension of local sporting events and the closure of sporting venues and facilities.
“I’m just doing what I can at home,” says UB Mingoes basketball forward Kemsey Sylvestre. “All exercises that can be done out of gym I’m doing at home. But I’m not getting enough cardio.”
Sylvestre and his fellow UB Mingoes teammates were extremely optimistic about the 2019-2020 basketball season. After enjoying a stellar season in the New Providence Basketball Association (NPBA), the UB Mingoes trounced the JD Shockers in the first round of the playoffs, moving on to face the Discount Distributors Rockets in the second round. The team was down 1-0 in that series, losing the first game 86-59.
Mingoes players were eager for revenge and were looking to turn the tide heading into game two of the series, when NPBA President James Price made the decision to suspend the playoff series because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sylvestre is worried that his team has lost its chance to claim this year’s NPBA title.
“This year was full of excitement for both myself and the team,” says Sylvestre. “I scored my career high internationally and locally, and the team and coach were focused. Still are. If the season ends, it would be heartbreaking for how far we’ve made it.”
One of Sylvestre’s teammates, Mingoes guard Christoph McKenzie, said he too was jarred by the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the Mingoes’ promising season. However, he remains hopeful. The NPBA plans to finish the remainder of this season once the country returns to some semblance of normalcy.
“Since COVID-19 the usual training system where I get up at 5 a.m. for 6 a.m. workouts before classes had been put on pause,” admits McKenzie. “So what I do for training, since everything is on pause or hold, is just strength workouts and ball-handling in my yard.
“The pause in the NPBA league threw me off a bit because we were in the middle of the second round of the playoffs. So I was upset when I found out they had to put it on hold. But I understood that it was for social distancing and to limit the amount of cases. And at the end of this pandemic I think everyone will grow from it and become more cautious about health.”
UB Athletics Director Kimberley Rolle, in a recent interview, said she and the coaches are doing their best to encourage UB student-athletes during these trying times.
“As we go through the process, we’ve been consistently talking with them, trying to keep them engaged in the process,” she shared. “Our athletics trainers have done a very good job with sending out workout programmes and regimens, ‘ZOOM-ing’ in workouts, doing little social media competitions amongst the athletes, just to keep them engaged and to keep their minds occupied on athletics.”
UB transitioned to remote operations on 16th March and has remained operational since then, though social activities including athletics have been suspended in compliance with national protocols and guidelines.