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Imani Tate’s Golden Triumph: Elevating Women’s Basketball in the USVI

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In the world of women’s basketball, Imani Tate stands as an emblem of hope and perseverance. Recently adding a gold medal from the 2023 CAC Games to her repertoire, this Virgin Islands Women’s Basketball Team member aspires to elevate the sport’s profile, especially in regions where women’s basketball is often overshadowed.

Addressing the media, the star athlete shared her insights, “It’s undeniable that women’s basketball often finds itself in the backseat in many areas. But a victory like this? It thrusts the spotlight right on us. With tangible achievements like these, I’m optimistic that the next generation of young girls will find the inspiration to chase their basketball dreams. Realizing that with tenacity and focus, they too can reach these heights.”

At 27, Tate, who hails from the Bronx but proudly claims her USVI roots, has had an illustrious career. Currently showcasing her prowess on Spain’s professional basketball courts, her journey also traces through countries such as Argentina and Ecuador. A University at Albany alumna, she concentrated in communication, paired with a minor in art. Remarkably, during her academic years, she steered her team to 4 championships, stamping her mark on 4 NCAA tournaments.

Reflecting on her early days, Tate acknowledges her stepfather’s role in introducing her to basketball. It was towards the twilight of her middle school years and the dawn of high school that she started resonating deeply with the sport. Hailing from a sports-centric family, young Tate dabbled in multiple games. Basketball, which she initially embraced due to her father’s influence, soon became her passion, resonating with her like no other sport did.

Elaborating on the recent team’s milestone, Tate expresses, “This victory isn’t just another medal. Hearing legends speak of such triumphs and then being a part of this tangible achievement? It’s surreal. The ripple effect this has is monumental, transcending each of us as individual players.”

Tate’s philosophy is clear: the mental game is as crucial as physical prowess. This attitude was particularly evident leading up to the June championship clash. She reminisced about a pivotal moment, “Facing a setback against DR, followed by a victory over PR – a globally high-ranked team, transformed our trajectory. That singular defeat was a catalyst, propelling us forward. My mantra? Always play with heart, even amidst the surrounding hype.”

So, what’s the secret behind her relentless drive? Tate simply emphasizes the power of vision, focusing unwaveringly on her goals. As an individual, she thrives on disproving naysayers, drawing fuel from every doubt cast her way. Offering words of wisdom for those with athletic aspirations, she asserts, “Stay the course. Obstacles are merely stepping stones. Always find joy in your journey, and never, ever give up.”

With Imani Tate leading the charge, the future of women’s basketball in the USVI looks brighter than ever. Her achievements and sentiments encapsulate the essence of determination, proving that it is indeed ‘heart over hype’.

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Michelle Smith Shatters Records and Leads Global Rankings in 400m Hurdles

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The Virgin Islands Track and Field Federation proudly announced a monumental achievement by the territory’s esteemed sports ambassador, Michelle Smith, during the prestigious Louie Bing Invitational in Miami, Florida, on February 16-17.

Demonstrating unparalleled skill and determination, Montverde Academy’s senior standout, Michelle Smith, dominated the semi-finals in both the 100m and 400m hurdles, claiming the top spot and advancing confidently to the finals.

In a spectacular display of athleticism, Smith shattered the meet record in the 400m hurdles semi-final, clocking an astounding time of 57.11 seconds. She then outdid herself in the final, setting a new benchmark with an impressive time of 56.82 seconds. This remarkable performance not only cements Smith’s status as the premier Under-20 (U20) athlete in the 400m hurdles globally but also marks her as the fastest high school athlete ever in Florida for this event.

Smith’s excellence wasn’t confined to the hurdles; she soared to victory in the long jump, reaching 5.64 meters, and clinched a silver medal in the 100m hurdles with a time of 14.10 seconds. Her exceptional achievements earned her the Most Valuable Athlete trophy at the invitational, highlighting her as a multifaceted talent in track and field.

As Smith prepares to compete in her final indoor meet at the New Balance Indoor Nationals Championship in Boston, Massachusetts, from March 8-10, 2024, the anticipation for her performance is sky-high.

In related news, the Virgin Islands Track and Field Team’s Malique Smith showcased his talents at the USC Indoor Open in Columbia, South Carolina, on February 17. Securing third place in his 400m heat with a commendable time of 49.01, Malique Smith is gearing up to represent the Virgin Islands at the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, from March 1-3, bringing further acclaim to the territory’s athletic prowess on the global stage.

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Michelle Smith Sets New Records at Florida Track Meet, Leading VI Athletes to Success

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In an outstanding display of athleticism and determination, Michelle Smith, a distinguished senior from Montverde Academy and an esteemed sports representative of the Virgin Islands, secured a triumphant victory at the Florida High School Challenge Indoor Track and Field meet held in Gainesville, Florida, on February 3, 2024.

Smith’s performance was nothing short of spectacular as she dominated the 60m Hurdles, setting a new Virgin Islands National U20 and Montverde Academy record with a blistering time of 8.65 seconds. Her prowess continued on the track as she shattered another VI National U20 record in the 400m, securing third place with a time of 54.15 seconds. This remarkable feat positions her as the 8th fastest U.S. high school athlete in the category, as recognized by the Virgin Islands Track & Field Federation.

Previously, at the Legends of Alachua County Meet in Gainesville, Florida, Smith had already showcased her growing skill set. On January 27 and 28, she set a personal best in the 200m at 24.48 seconds, clinched the 60m hurdles, and earned a second-place finish in the 400m. Her next challenge will be at the prestigious Millrose Games in New York, scheduled for February 10 and 11, 2024.

Virgin Islands Athletes Excel on National Stage

Smith’s achievements are part of a broader trend of exceptional performances by Virgin Islands athletes in the indoor track and field season.

  • Malique Smith kicked off his season with a bang at the Celebration Pointe Indoor Classic in Gainesville, FL, leading his heat in the 200m and capturing second in the 400m.
  • Rachel Conhoff, an Indiana State University graduate student, emerged victorious in the mile at the Blue-White Classic in Terre Haute, Indiana, with a time of 5:08.02. She looks forward to competing at the Marian Indoor Invitational in Indianapolis, Indiana, on February 9, 2024.
  • Nicola Peters, demonstrating her skills at the AHSAA State Indoor Meet in Birmingham, Alabama, finished 6th in the 60m and contributed to her team’s 7th place in the 4x200m relay.
  • Sofia Swindell made her mark at the UC High School Invitational in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, with a 3rd place in the 55m and a team second in the 4x200m relay, achieving New Jersey’s 11th fastest time. She is set to compete in the Garden State Invitational in Staten Island, New York, on February 16, 2024.
  • Osaze DeMund Williams set a personal record at the New Mexico Team Open 2024 in Albuquerque, finishing 8th in the 800m. He will participate in the Don Kirby Invitational on February 9 and 10, 2024.
  • Brandon Pemberton showcased his talent at the Washburn Rust Buster in Topeka, Kansas, securing 3rd in the 60m and 2nd in the 200m. He anticipates competing in the Tyson Invitational on February 10, 2024, in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Local Meets Highlight Virgin Islands’ Emerging Talent

The local track and field scene continues to thrive, with the 2nd SCIAA Track and Field Meet highlighting upcoming stars from middle school to varsity levels. Held at the St. Croix Educational Complex Track facility, the event showcased talents like Faith Eatmon, Juvante Hurst, Sarah Raglin, Jarl Oversen, Naomi Crawford, and Nasir Saldana.

Additionally, the 2nd Champion Track Club developmental meet in St. Thomas unveiled promising athletes in the U17 and U20 categories, including Chaya George, Micah Dominique, and Christol Braithwaite, further proving the depth of talent within the Virgin Islands’ athletic community.

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Anticipation Builds for Historic Carnival Horse Race at Revitalized Phipps Racetrack

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As the vibrant hues of Carnival season approach, the Clinton E. Phipps Racetrack is abuzz with activity, poised for its first major horse racing event since 2017. This much-anticipated race, scheduled for May 3, right after the Children’s Parade, marks a significant milestone in the revival of St. Thomas’ equine sports.

During a recent meeting of the St. Thomas/St. John Horse Racing Commission, key figures including Southland Gaming’s David Edmonds and the Department of Sports Parks and Recreation Commissioner Calvert White shared exciting updates on the racetrack’s progress. Mr. Edmonds highlighted the completion of the grandstands last October and the ongoing work on accessory buildings, which are now approximately 40 percent complete. The project is set to intensify from mid-February, with expanded work schedules and multiple crews tackling various aspects such as utilities, stormwater drainage, and grading.

The commission was reassured by Mr. Edmonds about the steady pace of the construction, expressing confidence in the contractors’ performance. Additionally, Southland Gaming has committed to financially support local horsemen, offering subsidies for racehorses and pony horses training at the track, with distribution of these funds happening imminently.

Asked about the timeline for the project’s second phase, Mr. Edmonds humorously remarked that efforts will continue relentlessly up to the day of the Carnival race. A realistic completion target is set for mid-April, allowing ample time for inspections and final touches before the big day. Following this event, the focus will shift to the third phase of development.

Commissioner White then shared insights about the race day, tentatively set for May 3. While acknowledging potential concerns about the date, he explained that safety considerations, particularly concerning the availability of VIPD officers post-J’Ouvert celebrations, influenced the decision. He reassured that the Department of Sports Parks and Recreation is coordinating closely with the Division of Festivals to ensure a seamless transition from the Children’s Parade to the horse race, slated for a 1:00 p.m. start.

White expressed confidence in the event’s success, barring any unforeseen circumstances, and assured that attendees could enjoy both the Children’s Parade and the horse race on the same day.

This upcoming race not only signifies the return of horse racing to St. Thomas but also represents a symbol of resilience and revival, as the island community eagerly anticipates the return of a cherished tradition, last experienced before the storms of 2017.

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