It is certain that the discipline learned on the field impacts your ability to do class work; it is also true that the curiosity that is encouraged in the classroom contributes greatly to the understanding of skill sets you will be required to learn on the field. So while you are young, don’t choose between sports and the classroom, do them both, and excel at them both. You can never predict where that combination will take you in life.
These are some powerful ideas coming from Jean-Saville Cummings, an athlete from St Vincent and the Grenadines who was fortunate enough o have been academically outstanding and found involvement in track and field athletics a wholesome means of utilization of his time and talents.
In an earlier Column we focused attention on Nickie Peters of Belmont, St Vincent and the Grenadines who took to athletics rather late in life but who nonetheless recognized that his involvement would have allowed access to an education for which he may not have been able to pay anytime soon.
Peters was not the first academic athlete this country has produced but he has distinguished himself more than most. Today he is considered one of the leading academics in his field in the USA, making St Vincent and the Grenadines and the local athletics fraternity very proud indeed.
In the previous Column when Peters was featured we expressed the hope that his is an example that other young Vincentians would readily strive to emulate.
Today we are proud to feature another Vincentian academic athlete – Jean Cummings.
Vincentians love the outdoors. Children always put their parents in much consternation when they seek every opportunity afforded them to be outside running around the house, engaging in the usual play.
Jean Cummings was no different. He was the typical Vincentian child in respect of his anxiety to play.
When the young Jean Cummings entered the Kingstown Preparatory School for his primary school education he was enthused by the interest shown by the teachers in the children’s participation in sports. Like all students at the institution he was always appropriately dressed in his white sports uniform on the designated days, taking part in the wide range of sporting activities undertaken.
The annual Sports Day was really a day of track and field athletics, the best organized competition at the institution. This did not, however, mean that much emphasis was placed on cricket and football.
At the Kingstown Preparatory School no one would have identified Jean Cummings as even potentially rich in the field of any particular sport, let alone track and field athletics. At the academic level, however, he was good. He easily graduated and moved on to the St Martin’s Secondary School.
St Martin’s Secondary School
Fortunately for Jean Cummings, Gary Thomas, a former student of the same institution, was the designated physical education teacher at the time he entered. Thomas was a hard taskmaster but was keen on identifying and promoting talent in all of the sporting disciplines. His youthfulness at the time also meant that Thomas was able to be as active on the field of play as the students he encouraged to participate in the sundry sporting activities.
At the St Martin’s Sports Day, 1993, Jean did well in his age category and repeated this feat at the annual Inter Secondary Schools Athletics Championships, the nation’s biggest annual track and field sports meet. His performances led to an invitation to train with Team St Vincent and the Grenadines (Team SVG) in preparation for the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Age Group Championships scheduled to be hosted later that year by the local governing body for the sport, the St Vincent and the Grenadines Amateur Athletics Association (SVGAAA), now Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines (TASVG).