St Vincent and the Grenadines does not seem to know when and how to acknowledge those who have come through sport to access an education and who have gone on to excel in academic and professional work.
We have had Alfie Roberts who made the West Indies team as a relatively young man. He was potentially rich in the sport. Once his playing days were over Alfie moved on to Canada where he excelled in his professional life, forever allowing himself to be at the service of his fellow men in as many ways as possible.
This week we take a look at a young man who has successfully utilised his athletic skills in combination with his tremendous commitment to academics, Nickie Peters.
Nickie Peters was first spotted by officials of the governing body for athletics (now Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines) while competing for the St Vincent Community College at its annual track and field championships at the Arnos Vale Playing Field. While running the 1500m Peters pandered to the crowd of students from the College. He knew he was better prepared than the other athletes in the competition and bided his time for the right moment to strike. Going into the final lap he looked at his fellow students in the P H Veira and Michael Findlay Pavilions, waved at them and indicated that it was his time to take control on his way to victory. He won both the 1500m and the 800m at the competition.
At the conclusion of the Meet, an athletics official asked Nickie how he had prepared for the particular competition. He responded, “I live at Belmont and I frequently run from home to the beach and back.” The distance would have been several miles and the athletics official thought that if he was willing and able to engage in such a stretch of distance running then there was a possibility that he was possessive of the requisite potential to make a relatively good athlete. St Vincent and the Grenadines has not had a relatively good 800m runner since Sebastien Warner.
The athletics official then asked Nickie about giving due consideration to engaging himself in track running in a very serious manner. Nickie readily responded, “No sir. Running is too hard.”
After about two weeks had passed by the same athletics official met Nickie at the University of the West Indies Extra Mural Department. Once more he approached Nickie on the subject of taking athletics seriously to begin training on a regular basis. The response from the young man was the same.
The athletics official then asked what he was doing at the facility and he responded indicating that he was a student at the Community College and was using the Library to study. It was then that the athletics official asked Nickie whether he would like to have the opportunity to access an athletics scholarship that would relinquish him of having to work before going off to study or burden his parents to pay for such study.
Nickie quickly asked, “How is that possible? Are you serious?”
Once Nickie had seen the seriousness in the eyes of the athletics official he gave then and there a commitment to begin training. He turned up at the Arnos Vale playing field the very next day, indicating that he was ready to work for his scholarship. There began in earnest the athletics career of Nickie Peters.
Nickie Peters took his training very seriously. He trained as frequently as he was directed by the athletics official who worked with him as his coach. His times improved as he focused on running the 800m rather than the longer 1500m.
Nickie made the national representative team to the Central American and Caribbean Games in Maracaibo, Venezuela, in 1998 and followed this by making it to the Commonwealth Games later in the same year in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
It was while at the Commonwealth Games he met an NCAA Division-1 college coach who saw some potential in him enough to assist his own college performance. The coach offered Nickie a full athletic scholarship to Coppin State University in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.