By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
During the most vibrant elections ever held in the history of the BVI Volleyball Association where 16 persons vied for six positions, Willis Potter was elected association president during a general meeting held at the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports on last Wednesday.
Potter who stated that the sport is ‘about to take off’ outlined the course he plans to take the sport on.
“We’ve been stagnant for quite a bit and I want to see Volleyball move to a higher level and when I say a higher level, we have to start from the bottom,” Potter said. “We have to have feeder teams. I want to have a primary schools league. I want to have a high school league and I want to have a collegiate league and we have to revive volleyball in the college as we have a number of players with potential to go off to college and university, so, if we can revive the program at the college, it can be an easier transition that can help them to get from the BVI to different schools.”
Potter said when he attended Missouri Southern, he met with the volleyball coach who gave him specifics that he’s looking for, particularly with women. A 6 foot player who can reach 9ft 8 ins is what he’s looking for.
“We have short people in the BVI and I believe if we train them well enough, our girls can touch 9’8” and if you can touch 9’8” and can play volleyball, he wants you,” Potter said. “That’s a full ride scholarship which is very important to me. What I’ve seen while in the states is training for volleyball at all levels from very small to 18 and in order for volleyball to move from one level to the other, we have to have community involvement and in order to get community involvement you have to include children.”
Potter added: “If you start with children, parents will come, if you have parents you’ll have people in the building and I if tell my friend my child is playing my friend will come, so, in order to grow the sport, we have to start with the youth—that’s where the power is.”
The new president noted that over the years, the association has not raised funds and even collecting at the gate didn’t happen. He said at the beginning of the season, bring in a team from St. Thomas, St. Croix or somewhere in the Caribbean to pull a crowd will start getting interest bubbling. A small fee will be charged for maintenance purposes.
“It’s high time that the association makes enough money to pay the gym in full—not partially. Volleyball should be able to support itself,” he said. “Volleyball in the BVI is about to take off because I understand what it takes to make volleyball grow. If you don’t have a feeder, you don’t have stability. We have to start increasing the physical fitness of our players in order for them to compete. Countries like Antigua and St. Kitts, those countries never beat us before but, they’re beating us now. And you know why? Volleyball is being played year round. Volleyball has to be played year round in the BVI for it to grow.”
The new head said he’d like to see a Men’s B Division added to the league similar to that introduced in the Women’s Division in 2016. The bottom team in the A Division is relegated to the B Division and the top B Division team is promoted to the A Division.
“What I’ve noticed over the years was that you would get some men in the league and you put them to play with the high level players and they become discouraged, so the initiative to start a lower division have been one of my Friday night initiatives,” he pointed out. “What I’ve found, is when you’re not good at the game yet and you’re forced to play with the guys at national level, it’s very discouraging because you play a whole season and can’t win a game and you feel defeated the first couple nights you play. What we don’t want is to turn people off. We want to groom you at your level and move you up as you progress.”
He added: “As your confidence grows, and we look at your ability as it grows, we say okay, I think its time for you to go up to the higher level, lets push it, like we did with the women.”
Potter got the nod for the top spot over Stephen Payne. He will be joined by Al-Aumin Nibbs as as vice president; Kisheba Sprauve-Callwood who ran unopposed is the General Secretary while Anabelle Skelton-Malone garnered the bulk of the votes for Assistant Secretary over Amadonna Creece. Former president Sabinah Clement is the Treasurer and wasn’t challenged for the post. Maria Drigo got the nod as Assistant Secretary over Natasha Marshall, while Desiree Farrington topped Tamisha Georges and Natrice Peters as the Public Relations Officer. Henrietta Alexander and Curtis Davis got the nod as Athletes Representatives from the field of seven entrants.