For the first time since the 2018-2019 school year, the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA) was able to complete all of its sporting disciplines after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled events and modified the calendar. The president of the association, Varel Davis, was very happy to see competition completed in all their disciplines.
The association was able to get baseball, softball, cross country, basketball, track and field, volleyball and soccer completed this school year with champions crowned in the junior and senior divisions. This year, the body celebrated its 29th anniversary.
Davis said that she did not know what to expect after missing so much time and that this was some of the student-athletes first time competing for their school.
“The year went extremely well, I could not have asked for a better year. It went extremely well despite coming back after years off,” Davis said. “The last time some of these student-athletes did any sporting activities was in primary school or junior high school so I thought that the level of play might pose a problem. We started with baseball and softball while in the past we started with volleyball. I think the change was good and the coaches had the student-athletes prepared.”
Davis said she was grateful to the Minister of Education and Technical and Vocational Training Glenys Hanna- Martin for seeing the need to get the kids back to competing. She noted that the minister sat and watched the kids play almost every discipline. Davis said she was also happy to see the support the kids got from fans.
“After meeting with Hanna- Martin and the sports unit, the want, and the need for these kids to get back in some activities was there. She wanted high school sports to begin. It was a blessing to see how the kids responded. If you looked at the gyms and the fields, it was well supported by the administration, teachers, students and parents, especially basketball and track and field. Track and field surprised me because it was the first time in a long time that the west side of the stadium was almost filled. The comeback was exciting and it was great to see the kids enjoying themselves and having fun again,” said Davis.
She commended the coaches for their hard work in ensuring that it was a competitive season.
“We learned that anything is possible. Once we got those kids back into training and preparing them for their respective sports, that made the difference in the level of competition. I loved that the level of play straight across the board was even. We saw teams tied with the same record at the end of the season and a tiebreaker had to be determined in some instances.”
She thanked Hanna- Martin, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg; Dr. Virginia Romer, president of the New Providence Association of Principals of Public Secondary Schools; Director of Education Dominique McCartney-Russell; Floyd Armbrister, consultant in the Sports Unit of the Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training; parents; teachers; administrations; principals; coaches; and student-athletes for a successful year.
Looking ahead to the 2023-2024 sports calendar, Davis said that she expects it to be better than it was this past year as they prepare to celebrate their 30th anniversary.
“The student-athletes are enthused and are already asking when the new season starting back. They are ready to get back into sports. I love what I saw this year. We always try to be better than the previous year. We have a lot of plans for the student-athletes and the general public to get involved. We are going to let persons know what our plans are for the upcoming sporting calendar,” she said.
The association wants to add new sports to its calendar but it needs to be done in the right fashion where there are facilities and coaching.
“The problem with that is we don’t have the bodies to coach some of the new sports. We support anything to help develop our kids because not all of them want to play the current sports that we have. Any news sport that is introduced to the GSSSA, we welcome it and sometimes the issue is finding facilities or coaches to assist with these other sports that will be introduced,” said Davis.
One nagging issue Davis said they experience is payments for coaches and officials in a timely manner. She hopes to get the issue rectified soon.
“We are hoping that it is resolved going forward in terms of the timeline in which we are paid,” Davis said. “This year was an improvement, and we are getting better as things have changed in the sports unit. Going forward we pray that it does not be a nagging issue. It has been plaguing us for a very long time. I think it will be better going forward in terms of payment issue.”
Davis congratulated all of the champions in the various divisions. In baseball, the A.F. Adderley Tigers won the junior boys division and R.M. Bailey Pacers won the senior boys. The H.O. Nash Lions won the junior girls softball title while Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins won the senior girls title. In basketball, the C.I. Gibson Rattlers senior girls and boys won the championships. The junior boys basketball title was won by the D.W. Davis Royals while the C.H Reeves raptors won the junior girls title. The C.R Walker Knights won the senior division while the Raptors won the junior division for the track and field championship titles.
In volleyball, the Knights and the Rattlers lifted the senior girls and boys championship trophies respectively. In the junior division of volleyball, the Lions won the junior girls title and the Royals won the junior boys title. The final sport of the year was soccer in which the Knights were crowned the senior girls champions and the Government High School Magic won the senior boys champions. The Lions won the junior girls soccer title while the Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves are the junior boys soccer champs.
The Knights and the Lions ran away with the senior and junior divisions in the cross country championships, respectively.