BNAA: Focus On Academic & Athletic Excellence

October 17, 2022

[Written by Stephen Wright]

Eight of Bermuda’s former track and field stars will serve as guidance counsellors to the island’s young athletes as part of a new academic initiative.

The Bermuda National Athletics Association’s Focus Programme aims to bridge the gap between academic and athletic excellence and prepare athletes for the demands of college and university.

Allison Outerbridge, the BNAA vice-president, has recruited her former team-mates Taylor-Ashley Bean, Juma Mouchette, Jasmine Brunson, Henry Stevens-Carty, Alexis Bean, Trey Simons, Eulannae Douglas and Taijaun Talbot to become the driving force behind the initiative.

“We’ve always had high achievers in track and field, but we haven’t had a system helping them fulfil their potential [academically],” Outerbridge told Bernews.

“When we were coming up, it was more about figuring it out for yourself and hopefully getting an athletic scholarship.

“This programme aims to try and provide our high school athletes with academic resources for growth and achievement.”

BNAA Focus Program Bermuda October 2022

Athletes aged 14 to 18, who compete for the BNAA-affiliated athletics clubs or are unattached, will be invited to join the programme, which will assign two counsellors, one male and one female, to four different age groups from Grade 9 to Grade 12.

The programme is in memory of up-and-coming sprinter Clevonte Lodge-Bean, who died in a road traffic collision in November 2020. He was just 18 years old.

“We’ve recruited former athletes to give back to a community which once gave them so much,” said Outerbridge, who graduated from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s in Health and Human Sciences.

“We all came up as team-mates, and it’s awesome to have them onboard. They all work in different professional sectors and serve as an example to our current young athletes.”

Outerbridge, 30, said the mentors would act as an “eye in the sky” for the athletes, sharing their experiences juggling academic and athletic commitments while providing support and encouragement during quarterly check-ins.

The programme will follow NCAA academic guidelines for high school athletes to ensure they remain on track for college and university, with the athletes required to submit end-of-term report cards.

They will also benefit from tutoring resources and receive assistance in preparing for their SATs and ACTs and navigating the college and university application process.

“We want to motivate our athletes to pursue their athletic dreams while recognising that the academic component is just as important,” Outerbridge said.

“We want to create an environment for them to achieve on the track and in the classroom.

“It’s easy to fall between the cracks after graduation if you don’t quite have the right support. We want to try and alleviate that as much as possible.”

Although Outerbridge hopes the programme will help generate more athletic scholarships for the island’s athletes, she said the bigger picture is to develop well-rounded and productive members of society.

“We want to cater to the individual, their interests, talents and aspirations,” the former triple jumper added. “That may not always translate into an athletic scholarship. Not all of our young athletes may want to continue competing at college.

“We want to make sure the person we’re presenting at [high school] graduation is someone who will be of value in their next step into college.”

Information sessions about the programme will be held at the BNAA office on Cedar Avenue from 7 pm tonight [S1/Gr9], tomorrow [S2, Gr10], Wednesday [S3/G11] and Thursday [S4/G12].

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