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UVI’s Call to Action: Fund the Revival of the Tennis Program in Honor of Fenella Cooper’s Legacy

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The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) is championing an ambitious initiative to breathe new life into its tennis program, a move spearheaded by its outgoing president, David Hall. During a compelling testimony before the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Veteran Affairs, and Consumer Protection, Dr. Hall made a passionate plea for the 35th Legislature to extend their support beyond merely renaming the Orville E. Kean Campus tennis courts in St. Thomas after Fenella Cooper, a cherished figure whose memory they aim to immortalize.

Dr. Hall articulated a vision for a future where the university’s facilities, including the tennis courts, receive the care and enhancement necessary to sustain them for generations. He highlighted the traditional practice of securing endowment funds in exchange for naming rights, urging the government to adopt a similar approach to ensure the upkeep of these facilities.

In a bid to elevate the university’s athletic offerings, Dr. Hall proposed the allocation of funds specifically for the restoration of the UVI tennis program. He painted a picture of a program languishing from a lack of resources, unable to support aspiring athletes in tennis—a stark contrast to the flourishing track and field and basketball programs currently at UVI. According to Dr. Hall, an investment of $69,000 annually would suffice to cover the costs of a coach, uniforms, and participation in competitions for both men’s and women’s teams, thereby fostering a competitive spirit akin to Fenella Cooper’s legacy.

Senator Milton Potter expressed optimism regarding the feasibility of Dr. Hall’s request, noting the proposed figure was surprisingly modest. However, Gerald Walters, a former UVI tennis coach, offered a cautionary perspective, suggesting that the sum might fall short of enabling the team to achieve its full potential, especially considering the high costs associated with travel and the potential need for additional facilities.

As Dr. Hall prepares to conclude his tenure at UVI, he remains hopeful that his proposal will come to fruition, enabling Virgin Islanders to pursue excellence in tennis and honor the legacy of luminaries like Fenella Cooper. This initiative represents not only a tribute to a beloved figure but also a strategic investment in the future of Virgin Island sports, aiming to inspire and cultivate the next generation of athletes.

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Michelle Smith: A Beacon of Excellence in Academia and Athletics Nominated for Esteemed Award

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The Virgin Islands have yet again marked their spot on the global map of extraordinary talent with Michelle Smith’s nomination for the Student-Athlete of the Year Award at Montverde Academy. This honor underscores her exceptional dual success in academia, where she shines with a Grade Point Average of 4.32, and athletics, where her prowess is unmatched.

Smith’s recent triumph at the Carifta Games, where she secured gold in both the 400m hurdles and 800m races, further cemented her status as an athlete par excellence. Her record-setting performance in the 800m has rewritten the Virgin Islands’ history books. Additionally, her time of 56.06 in the 400m hurdles has positioned her as the world’s front-runner in the event.

At Montverde Academy, Smith has been nothing short of phenomenal, setting benchmarks in various track and field events. She holds records in indoor challenges such as the 55m hurdles, 60m hurdles, 600m, and long jump, and shines outdoors with records in the 100m hurdles, 400m hurdles, 800m, and long jump.

The community’s support can propel Smith to victory in this nomination, with voting open until April 11, 2024. Participating is easy: visit the voting page, select the “Eagle Choice Award FEMALE Varsity Student-Athlete of the Year Ballot” or “Girls Ballot,” choose Michelle Smith’s picture, and submit your vote to honor her achievements.

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The Legacy of Aliyah Boston Elevates South Carolina to a Historic Victory

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In a display of dominant sportsmanship, the South Carolina Gamecocks women’s basketball team secured their third national title in the program’s history with an 87-75 triumph over the Iowa Hawkeyes. This victory, achieved on a Sunday, marked the pinnacle of an undefeated season, a testament to the team’s unparalleled dedication and skill.

The celebration extended beyond the hardwood, where a poignant story unfolded, highlighting the profound impact of familial bonds and spiritual faith on athletic excellence. Among the fans was Cleone Boston, who, in a heartfelt interview with WACH Fox 57, expressed seeing “God’s hand at work” in the Gamecocks’ remarkable journey to victory.

Cleone, the proud mother of Aliyah Boston, a celebrated Gamecocks alumna, has been a steadfast supporter throughout the season. Her presence at the SEC tournament and the national championship was driven by a promise to Coach Dawn Staley, a commitment rooted in the deep connection formed during her daughter’s tenure with the team. Cleone’s unwavering support underscores a fundamental belief imparted by Coach Staley: once you are a Gamecock, you are family forever. This enduring ethos, Cleone believes, played a role in the team’s latest triumph, viewing it as the fruition of “answered prayers.”

Aliyah Boston’s legacy continues to resonate, not only through her mother’s support but also in her burgeoning professional career. In her rookie season with the Indiana Fever, Boston has already made significant strides, finishing sixth in the WNBA Eastern Conference. Standing tall at 6’5″, her prowess as a center/forward was on full display, leading her team with 11 rebounds and scoring 6 points. Her remarkable debut season was crowned with accolades, including the WNBA Rookie of the Year and the Associated Press Rookie of the Year, a fitting continuation of her influential legacy within the sport.

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New Rule Accelerates Entry of Imported Horses for Governor’s Cup, Setting Cut-off at 14 Days

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During an emergency session convened by the St. Thomas/St. John Horse Racing Commission, a pivotal discussion unfolded, prompted by a morning email from 17 industry stakeholders including horse owners and trainers. The correspondence raised concerns about the eligibility criteria for the upcoming Governor’s Cup, particularly focusing on the advantage that newly-imported horses might have over locally-stationed, unraced horses.

Historically, the Governor’s Cup was open to horses that had either competed in the Virgin Islands or had been present in the territory for over 30 days prior to the race. This practice was intended to prevent newly purchased horses from overshadowing those already in the region, ensuring a fair competition. The email further addressed issues with the current system of classifying horses, suggesting that longstanding residents of the territory were at a disadvantage.

Hugo Hodge Jr., the Commission Chair, countered the classification concerns by explaining that horses are categorized based on their purchase price and win record, a long-standing method that he firmly supports. Hodge stressed the importance of offering spectators high-quality races, arguing that limiting entries to local horses could result in mismatched competitions that fail to satisfy public expectations. He highlighted his commitment to enhancing the racing experience for fans, despite his respect for owners who have maintained their horses during challenging times.

Echoing Hodge’s sentiments, Commissioner Sheldon Turnbull emphasized the need for flexibility in importing race-ready horses, especially as the territory resumes racing activities after a seven-year hiatus. He commended the dedication of owners who kept their horses active during this period, advocating for adjustments to past practices to reflect current realities.

Amid discussions, it was revealed that several owners were striving to meet the traditional 30-day threshold but faced unavoidable delays. This disclosure led to a broader conversation about adapting the cut-off period to accommodate such challenges, with Turnbull hinting at a potential change that some stakeholders might have anticipated.

The meeting progressed to a more inclusive phase, allowing attendees to voice their concerns and seek clarifications. Clinton Hedrington, President of the St. Thomas/St. John Horsemen’s Association, expressed support for the Commission’s forward-looking approach, despite being unaware of the letter’s distribution.

Ultimately, Turnbull proposed officially reducing the cut-off period for imported horses to 14 days, a motion that was met with approval from the attendees, marking a significant shift in policy aimed at revitalizing the racing scene in the Virgin Islands amidst its revival efforts.

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