By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
A former South Plains College athlete who won the 2019 National Jr. College Athletics Association Javelin Throw title, escaped being in the ravages of Hurricane Laura’s grasp as it tore through parts of Louisiana, last week, because of COVID-19.
Akira Phillip who like her fellow collegians didn’t have a 2020 outdoor season, is in the territory and started online classes with Northwestern State University on August 17.
Phillip told Island Sun Sports after not having a 2020 season, since she returned home, she has been working on the Javelin, Shot Put and Discus implements and playing Softball on the side.
“They got damaged. I don’t think it’s as bad as we did when we were going through Hurricane Irma,” Phillip said of her school that she hasn’t stepped foot in as yet. “They’re out of power and school’s closed till September 8 or so.”
She started five online classes on Aug 17.
“I don’t like online classes because I’m at home and I’m being distracted,” said Phillip, who is hoping to get to school perhaps later this month. “I can’t concentrate at home. I rather face to face classes over online classes any day. It’s boring to be honest and if I need help, I can’t even go to my classmate and say, ‘hey, you understand this?’ I have to figure it out on my own. It’s a task.”
Phillip, a catcher, has been playing in the BVI Softball Association preseason tournament with defending champions, That’s Ya Problem and has been playing since her Elmore Stoutt High School days.
“To get to play again, that felt good, because when I was in college, I did track for the whole year,” she said. “So, it was good to get a little break off track.”
Being the catcher however, offers Phillip a cross sport fertilization opportunity, as throwing the ball is the same arm action is throwing the Javelin. She said she got into the sport because of her uncle Tecius “TC” Frett, who’s now playing with the pirates and wanted to be like him.
Thad Lettsome sets sail in New Orleans
Further east of Phillip and wasn’t affected by Hurricane Laura, Laser Sailor Thad Lettsome wrapped up his first week as a freshman at Tulane University, on Aug 28.
“I choose Tulane because the sailing coach was pursuing me a lot more than other sailing coaches and showed a bigger interest,” Lettsome told Island Sun Sports. “The team was recently given a $5 Million donation, so they upgraded their facilities, got new boats and they’re taking the program very seriously. It’s a developing team, which is something I’m interested in being a part of. Then, New Orleans just seemed to be a great city to be in, it’s like a bit of a small Caribbean, everybody is nice. It’s a good place to be in and I thought it was a good mix of opportunities so I came here.”
For his classes, Lettsome who’s majoring in architecture, said it was made clear that they could stay at home and do them online, but in his situation, he chose to attend the institution, as several of his fellow sailors. He said all of his classes are online and he has one face to face class. “It’s a good mix because most of the time, you’re in your dorm, so I don’t mind,” he said.
Lettsome who hasn’t sailed in a while, said he was looking forward to practices that began on Sept 1. He said it’s something he was looking forward to.
“It will help bring back a sense of normalcy to things,” he said. “It won’t be much of a season, but practices. If there are meets, it will be one or two, but we’re in a position when we’re allowed to do regattas but it’s a question of whether other schools are able to and I don’t think many schools are able to.”
With the uncertainties because of COVID-19, Lettsome said that over the summer, they were beginning to plan going to the U21 World Championships which he says is a good steppingstone between Youth and the Sr. World Championships.
“But, we all know what happened over the summer,” he said. “The North American Championships would have been in California but that too got cancelled and that’s behind. Now, we’re looking on to the next thing, which we don’t really know what that is, but will probably be in January or February or whenever it is.”