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Sports Last Updated: May 4, 2018 - 12:01:27 PM

Youth empowered by successful basketball clinic in Wemyss Bight, Eleuthera
By Felicity Ingraham
May 4, 2018 - 5:31:07 AM

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Mehershal Simonet beams as he receives an award of appreciation from South Eleuthera MP, Hank Johnson

A special basketball clinic designed to inspire young South Eleutherans while giving them critical skills in basketball was hosted by Mr. William “Doug” Douglass on Saturday, April 29, 2018.  More than 100 children attended the clinic, which was conducted at the Wemyss Bight Primary School basketball courts.

The young athletes benefitted from having pro athletes, coaches and other professionals on-hand for presentations, workout sessions, one-on-one conversations, and general encouragement as they participated in the clinic.

The court in Wemyss Bight was built last year as a result of a $300,000 donation from Mr. Douglass. The rubberized courts, which also serve as volleyball courts, are outfitted with proper lighting, seating and fencing, which allows for the entire community to enjoy the court, even for night-time games.  The facility includes a smaller court for younger potential athletes and a larger, full court for competition. Kids also enjoy the long rock-climbing wall that was installed.

a bout of rain in the morning didn't stop the programme

Mr. Douglass spoke to the children during the ceremonies, pointing to the vast potential in sports that will continue to come from the Bahamas.  He noted that the current “top 2018 college pick in the NBA is from The Bahamas” - Deandre Ayuton.  Mr. Douglass’ dream is to see the court being used in such a way that children in Eleuthera with the potential to become world-class athletes could have an opportunity to do so by being exposed to the best facilities and the right people.  This event, he feels, is another important step towards that goal. 

Mehershal Simonet led the sessions on the court, making them lively and exciting with his unique personality and seemingly boundless energy. Simonet was born in Compton, Los Angeles – one of America’s toughest neighborhoods – yet he rose to become a respected basketball player, competing internationally with some 13 countries under his belt. His Bahamian roots keep him coming back to these islands to sew seeds of success for the future generation.

Aliv supports Simonet’s efforts to make a positive impact in the country and assisted in sponsoring the event.  Over 200 people attended and were treated to fruit, snacks, food, drinks and water throughout the entire day.

Eleuthera kids in competitive play

Aliv and Simonet were partnering to conduct a previous clinic in Governor’s Harbour, Eleuthera, when Mr. Douglass invited the pro-baller to see the court in Wemyss Bight.  It is touted as possibly the best outdoor court in the entire country. Simonet was excited to see the possibilities that could unfold with having a modern facility available for the children and young adults.

Alan Bates, Chief Aliv Partner, was on hand to congratulate the kids who participated in the event and to thank all who came together to make it a reality: “This was a great opportunity for us to invest in our up and coming basketball players in South Eleuthera.” 

“These athletes often represent our country on the regional and world stage and need as much help as possible,” said Mr. Bates.  “The power of the ALIV brand, the strength of our partnerships – like this one with William Douglass - and the passion of our people put us in a great position to have a lasting and meaningful effect on improving the lives of thousands of young Bahamians and our ultimate goal at ALIV is to always meet and surpass expectations.”

Mr. Douglass, who has been coming to The Bahamas since 1962, is the grandson of Pan American Airways founder Juan Trippe, who was a resident of South Eleuthera. He passed his fond attachment to these islands on to his grandson, who has named the courts in memory of the legacy of Juan and Betty Trippe.

drills on the Weymss Bight Primary School basketball court

Mike Carey, CEO of Pineapple Air, also assisted in the success of the event. He flew in the US-based and Nassau coaches that participated in the clinic and gave critical assessments of the skills of the children so that they would have tips of real value to take away and practice to become better players.  Mr. Carey also flew in the VIP guests stayed through to the the end of the event in the evening.

South Eleuthera Member of Parliament Hank Johnson and his wife also attended, offering support to the children and the VIP guests who attended. Mrs. Nola Young Brown, the mother of Olympic gold medalist Chris “Fireman” Brown, said the opening prayer.  Brown stands as proof of the potential in the out islands because he hails from this quaint settlement.

kids enjoying the rock climbing wall

Allan Ingraham, one of the first Bahamians to be drafted to the NFL, also attended and offered support.  Ingraham, who played for the Washington Redskins, is proud of his Eleuthera heritage and made a point to share his experiences and life lessons with attendees.

Ron Horton, former Manager of Pan Am Airways in Rock Sound, Eleuthera, served as master of ceremonies. He was happy that he could still make an impact on the island where he worked and lived for many years. Mr. Horton, Mr. Ingraham and Ms. Young Brown sang the national anthem for the ceremonies.  Long-time Eleuthera residents Tom and Anne Maxey also offered support.

Simonet notes that “a lot of young guys that have talent come from The Bahamas and they are really competitive”.  He is working hard to see young Bahamian athletes get the scholarships, opportunities and exposure they need to be the best at whatever sport they apply themselves to.  However, he also wants to show them the importance of getting their “credentials off the court” – giving back to communities like theirs when they succeed.

Mehershal Simonet coaching the kids who attended the clinic

Simonet gives a young teen tips for the perfect shot

Nola Young Brown, mother of Chris "Fireman" Brown

Eleuthera kids in competitive play

William "Doug" Douglass shares a light moment with MP Johnson and his wife as they present him with an award of appreciation for their investment in South Eleuthera.

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