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Roach makes hoop dreams come true

Lisa King

Roach makes hoop dreams come true

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The coach who has led Graydon Sealy Secondary School to basketball glory says the achievement is not his alone, but that of the family unit that supports the team, including the players, teachers, and parents.
“It is not just a one person thing,” said coach of the school’s girls and boys basketball teams, Orland Roach.
“From the time I started I worked with Derrick Lashley, who is also passionate. That started to spread throughout the school where persons would come and say Mr Roach I have a boy for you.” 
Roach, who has been coaching the team since 1994, teaches woodwork, technical drawing and technology education, but said he got into coaching because basketball was something he loved. 
He said that four years ago when he started the current team that has been performing well, it was almost completely a group of first-formers, but after two years and playing with the seniors, they got into the habit of winning.
Roach said basketball was not always supreme at the school and at one time the team had to walk to the Garrison Savannah to use the court there because the sole court at the school was used for the more popular netball.
However, for security reasons, it was decided that the boys would train at the school.
Roach said right now everyone wanted to beat Graydon Sealy given its recent successes.
“I remember our early days when we had some heartbreaking losses. We have finally reached the point now where everybody is looking to beat Graydon Sealy.”
He acknowledged that they were set to go through the rebuilding process.
“I told the guys coming down to the end of this recently-concluded competition that next year will be a very hard year because everyone is gunning for us, and I say that because if you look at the teams you would know that maybe next year you will not have a strong team.” 
Roach said the team effort was seen with teachers who gave free lessons to students to make sure they were up to scratch for the classes they missed. The players practice three times a week after school and some students miss a few classes to be able to attend games.
Additionally the parents also assist in shuttling the children home after practice and to and from games. Parents of former students still come and assist with the coaching or other ways.
“It is like a family,” Roach said.
He hopes that the basketballers get to tour other Caribbean nations at some time.  
“If I could get avenues possible to get the teams to play outside of Barbados, that would be ideal but getting the funds is the hardest bit,”?he said.
“Sponsorship has been so hard. Believe it or not in all this time and all the successes we would have had, we have written so many letters, begged almost on hands and knees for financial help and it is not forthcoming.
“Most of our teams need new uniforms; they’re still using the uniforms they had about four years now that still say Garrison School.” 
Roach said he had gained a lot over the years by seeing some children succeed, and do better. He said names that readily came to mind included John Jones, Justin Maloney, Jermaine Shaw and Sade Clarke.
He cited Jones, who he remembered seeing as a second form student and wondering “who is this big fella walking the corridor”, and how basketball became somewhat of “a saving grace” for the student.
“So many children in the school started to look up to him and there were times when he walked the corridors you would think a senior teacher or principal was walking, the children had that much respect for him, because of the amount of hard work and sacrifice he put in was phenomenal and he has always had a good work ethic,” Roach said.
He said that through the years he has learned to understand the game better.
“Once you understand the game you can play better so the children learn the game,”?he said.
“As a coach, I have picked up things with experience that when I look back at it now there are some games that we would have lost earlier on in coaching that had I known what I know now we would not have lost those games.”