By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Beneficiaries of the BVI Tourist Board’s scholarship to the IMG Sports Academy Camp in Bradenton, Florida, August 12-18, have capitalized on the opportunity to enhance their craft. The program that targets athletes between 12 and 18 years, saw Stephan Wilson-DeLeon (basketball), Anghel George, (tennis), Adaejah Hodge (track and field) and Nashawnta Smith (baseball), attended a week-long event.
Island Sun Sports spoke to three of the four camp participants who shared their experiences and how the experience has helped their development.
George, from Virgin Gorda, said that IMG is an excellent academy for all sports and he was trained by coaches who worked with world renowned players such as Maria Sharapova, who was also at IMG at the time. After waking up at 5 a.m., he spent seven hours daily on the court, followed by strategy sessions.
“I had to be punctual or I couldn’t take part in the lesson so I had to ensure to get 100% out of every lesson,” he said. “I listened to the coaches’ instructions to help improve my game. My experience included playing matches which I enjoyed, because I won most of them and I’m excited to return and show my coaches Amenia and Katrina, what I’ve learned at IMG, to help the younger children play tennis.”
Among things he learned, George said he didn’t realize how large his backswing was on his forehand and that he needed to shorten it in order to make a clean hit.
“Another piece of helpful advice the coaches gave me, was about my serve and how I needed to snap my wrist, instead of accelerating my arm when I came down with the forehand,” he said.
Fresh off competing in the AAU Jr. Olympics where she won the 200m in 24.37 seconds to break the 26-year old meet record and was second in the 400m in 56.79 seconds, Hodge spoke of the benefits she took away.
“Attending IMG was beneficial to me, because it helped me improve my start and I also learned about sport psychology,” she said. “The most important thing I learned was the mental side of the game that will help me defeat my opponents mentally.”
Hodge, who won the Gatorade Athlete of The Week for her characteristics of leadership, hard work, teamwork, determination and team spirit, said that her experience was great, she met kids from all over the world and learned new techniques that will benefit her. She even had to hit the gym.
“What I liked most about weight lifting is that the weight room was new, the equipment was up to date and I learned new exercises,” she stated.
Basketball guard Wilson-DeLeon, said the camp in which he met people from around the globe, was helpful in improving his craft.
“I think it helped me because it got me more focused on dribbling and helped me with my form in shooting,” Wilson-DeLeon said, noting that it was a great camp, starting with dribbling and shooting between 8-10 a.m., a one-hour break, then four hours of basketball, followed by two hours of gym. “I was up against people who I saw were as good as or better than me, but I didn’t let that overcome me, because when I play, I play from the heart.”