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Coaching strong minds, bodies


Coaching strong minds, bodies

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WITH THE APPROACH of a drill sergeant and an avuncular nature, Alwyn Babb has helped hundreds of his adopted children to achieve their fullest potential in athletics, netball and a host of other activities over two decades.

While many people would point to the high flyers like Ryan Brathwaite, Rivaldo Leacock, jockey Jalon Samuels and netballers like Kizzy Marville and Lydia Bishop who Babb would have helped to shape and grow in their chosen disciplines, the coach is more elated with the success of his less talented achievers.

“Like a parent I want to create the best opportunities for my children.  However, my greatest joy is not in seeing the high-flyers setting the world ablaze but in those also-rans moving up to win events or to set personal bests,” said Babb, who is not a dad or father but holds the “father figure” title to many of his charges.

Born and bred in rural St Lucy, Babb embarked on a career of coaching accidentally when through his own fitness regime he was asked to help train the Half Moon Fort football team which was taking part in the St Lucy league.

Following a year of competing in the IDC Games Babb was invited to train with Freedom Striders and many evenings he would run the session until the late Tony Lovell arrived from work.

“Mrs [Esther] Maynard and June Caddle saw something in me and they suggested that I take the IAAF Level I course at BCC.  I then went on to the Level II which is now rated as Level IV and I got the highest marks where I advanced to the Level V to join another coach from Trinidad and Tobago as the only two coaches in the Caribbean to earn distinctions.

“During that period the head of the PE department at the Lester Vaughan School, Hyacinth Chandler, recommended me to the then principal Ezra Barker where I acted for two years.  Following a successful stint at Queen’s College based on Ms Maynard’s recommendation saw a tremendous improvement at that institution before I returned to Lester Vaughan for good, so to speak,” said Babb.

Although Lester Vaughan lost the BSSAC title to QC in 2014 after holding the advantage up to the final day, Babb does not consider that a bitter moment. “We had lost to The Lodge School previously by a much smaller margin and last year I had recognised that we had weak areas in one of our divisions.

“However, the greatest joy has been in seeing the 2015 team remaining focused after placing fourth previously to move up to the top of the podium,” stated Babb.

While the no-nonsense coach holds the record of being in charge of Barbados’ athletics and netball in the same year, he admits that nothing tops his commitment to church and leading the choir at the Berean Bible Baptist Church in St Lucy. “I do not allow anything to get in the way of my Sunday worship and my greatest moments are working with the choir or organising Christmas or Easter programmes at church or school,” said Babb.

Babb indicated that his ability to spot talent and help an individual to maximise that talent has to be God-given and he accepts that he is merely the vessel which God uses to chart a path for thousands of His children.

With a tremendous work load at Lester Vaughan and the Spooners Hill netball teams along with various Barbados squads, Babb still found time to create and build the Rising Stars athletic team, which is often the envy of many.

The consummate coach and the idealist, Babb has seen many of his children from Rising Stars helping other schools to thwart his Lester Vaughan in BSSAC.  “I see myself as a generous father and once I have helped my children to go along the path of success, it does not matter if they compete against each other as I consider that they are all winners and champions,” declared Babb.