Monday, April 17, 2017

Meet the 12-year-old girl who might very well be the next Usain Bolt

Brianna Lyston was used to being out in front at Champs in Kingston, Jamaica, on April 1. (Photo by Collin Reid)

If you're looking for the next fastest human alive, get acquainted with Brianna Lyston. After blowing by her competition, she has Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake weighing in on her potential. Read more on espnW.com

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Rio Olympics Preview

It's always such an honor to publish a story in Essence. In the August issue, check out my pick of athletes to watch in Rio for the magazine's Olympics preview. Open this link to read the articles.



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hamilton Knights 2014 Expo/Symposium & Job Fair

Gillian Rowlands, owner of Hamilton Knight Associates
and Francine Staple, 2014 Career Hall of Fame inductee.

Gillian Rowlands, the owner of Hamilton Knight Associates, a career and human resource company, had just finished a full day of job informational talks and presenting hall of fame awards. Now in the early evening, she sat on a bench outside the Grand Jamaica Suite at the Pegasus Hotel where the event was held last night with Francine Staple. The two have a long relationship. “I thought you were going to cry,” Staple said to Rowlands. The company owner gave a demure deflection to the statement, but it was clear Staple read her correctly. Rowlands knew better than most the hardships Staple has had to overcome in her life and the miracle she is currently.


Staple along with lawyer, Charlotte Lee Bernard and educator, Dr. Jean Thelma Small were Hamilton Knights 2014 Career Hall of Fame Inductees. They were part of the company’s 12th Anniversary Careers & Lifestyles Expo/Symposium & Job Fair in which representatives from organizations talked about their programs to students and those looking for work. Individuals from the Ministry of Labor talked about employment opportunities; educational institutions such as the Jamaica Library Services, the University of West Indies, Mico University, Jamaica Theological Seminary and Abilities Foundation (Skills Training for Persons with Disabilities) informed students about their programs and companies such as Fashionable Wigs & Hair Clinic, Hecoin and Club Kingston told everyone about their services.


Rowlands first met Staple when the inductee was 19 years old. Later Staple worked as her personal assistant. But as a teenager Staple had already overcome a lot in life. She was given away by her mentally ill mother who wondered the streets, at two years old; lived in a home for girls, became pregnant at 18 years old, and by 19 was living with her son under a tent in Kingston. Staple said living in a girl’s home was a great experience for her because she shared her life with other young women. But when she became homeless she often had no food to eat and remembers how badly she was sometimes treated. She told of going to an older woman’s house on a Monday hoping she'd be offered leftovers from Sunday dinner. The woman claimed to have no food but Staple had to go into her closet for something. While in the closet she saw the woman’s pots with the rice and peas, and meat inside. She didn’t take any of the food because it became clear she wasn’t welcomed anymore.


“Francine went through the mill. To be born poor, to be homeless and motherless,” said Rowlands. “I remember when she came to me, she had so many emotional strugles and sometimes bitter experiences of how people treated her because to be poor is like a sin. I’m not saying everybody thinks like that but you do have a lot of that still. Whereby [individuals say] ‘those people, a whole pile of poor people’ and ‘what are you going to do with them,’ but a lot of our talent comes out of ‘those people’ and when are you [going to invest in them?] You see we’re not long-term thinkers too because the return on investment and education takes a little time.



“There are some things that are still elitist in our culture,” she continued. “The things that are still seen through that lens of colonialism. The colonials have moved beyond it and are beginning to be more egalartarian. We’re still caught up in a lot of those things; those things, being a sense of privilege and social position and so on.”



“Working Local, Going Global,” was the theme for the event. Students from The Queens School, Rowlands’s alma mater, Greater Portmore High School and others were present. Throughout the day, Rowlands spoke of the practical approaches in finding employment but tried to encourage the students by letting them know that “success is right here in your DNA. You have to believe it and you have to demand it.” At the same time that she was talking about unemployment or underemployment she was also encouraging the students to begin to think of their choices which might be globally. “Expand our visions, dream beyond our shores,” she told them.

All the inductees met those standards. Staple credits Rowlands as “the one who guided my career path in terms of how to choose my career.” Now she has a Masters in Security Risk Management from the University of Leicester in England. Staple is the first Jamaican woman to receive the designation of Physical Security Professional. Currently she is the manager for Security & Safety at the Kingston Container Terminal where she has to guard against drug trafficking and corruption, among other nefarious activities. The terminal is the largest of its kind in the Caribbean.  

Jean Bernard, mother of Charlotte, Diana McIntyre-Pike,
former Career Hall of Fame Inductee and Charlotte Bernard,
2014 inductee with award.
Charlotee Lee Bernard is the legal counsel and International Commercial Arbitrator for the Brady Corporation in Wisconsin, USA. Bernard spoke of her heritage of a Jamaican mother and American father and how her Jamaican grandfather who was a pharmacist inspired her to work hard. Her American  father was a naval pilot and Bernard spent her childhood living in numerous countries. “I stopped counting after 30,” she laughed. She attended John Hopkins University for her undergraduate degree and went to Wisconsin Law School.

 “It was incredible to see all the young people that turned out,” said Bernard. “It was also wonderful to see all of the vendors basically addressing all of the unique opportunities that are here in Jamaica. I feel very honored to have received this award and to be in such great company with so many amazing female professionals who have done so much to change the world. I’m really very humbled right now.” 

Dr. Jean Thelma Small 
When Rowlands presented the award to Dr. Jean Thelma Small she immediately said “there is nothing small about this woman.” At 80 years old, Small dressed in a relaxed black pantsuit, has a strong voice. She was born in Guyana but has lived in Jamaica from 1954. Small graduated from the University of the West Indies with a degree in Foreign Languages – French, Spanish and Latin and has been an educator since. But she has also worked as a playwright, actress, cultural ambassador and puppeteer. After she retired form teaching, she went on to get her Doctor of Philosophy and currently uses puppeteer to teach children. 

“I feel that after 50 odd years of working to still be recognized
for what I have done is just something, it’s indescribable the joy I feel today and the gratitude,” she said. Small stayed through the end of the event but then went to the Alliance Francaise where she was schedule to teach a French class.  

When everyone left and the cleaning crew was clearing out the room, Rowlands and Staple were still in the area of the bench talking. Stories of the past and present were shared. But Rowlands pointed out that when Staple was financially able to she found her mother, took her off the streets and placed her in a home. Amidst all the tales, Rowlands was clear about her mentees future, “Francine is going to go on to greater things,” she said. By all accounts that would be a true statement.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Renee Powell, Ginger and Robbi Howard share a day of golf

I wrote a story on African-American women and golf.  It's called "Culture Club," and profiles the eminent RenĂ©e Powell and rising starts Ginger and Robbi Howard. It's in the March 2014 edition of Essence.
Open this link to read the article.

Serena and Venus Williams Courting Jamaica


L-R: Serena Williams, Yohan Blake, Warren Weir and Venus Williams.
Courtesy of Breds, The Treasure Beach Foundation 
  The Treasure Beach Sports Park in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, has one tennis court. It's between a multiplex court used for basketball and a soccer field. The blue tennis court is clearly new, hardly worn by the stampede of feet at the baseline or lightened by the sun. Its color is striking against the acres of grass designated for cricket and soccer.


One must drive a lot of rugged roads to reach this quiet corner of the county. Yet here stood two of tennis' greats, Serena and Venus Williams, in town to conduct a tennis clinic for about 40 children.

"We really had a great time enjoying and playing with the kids and seeing how much talent there actually is in Jamaica," Serena Williams said to local media, including the radio station KLAS, ESPN's partner on the island. "There's so many sports going so well, obviously with track, and we would like to see tennis do well here, so we really feel honored to have a chance to come here and be a part of the community."

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Brenda Martinez's Sensational Run at the IAAF Track & Field World Championships in Moscow


At the recent IAAF Track & Field World Championships in Moscow, Mexican-American Brenda Martinez became the first American woman to win a medal in the 800m at the event. She ran her personal-best at (1:57.80) and won the bronze medal. Martinez, 25, is from Rancho Cucamongo, CA and is the only Latina on the national track and field team.
Martinez started running at five years old and became the first person in her family to go to college when she attended UC-Riverside. There she won the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Championship in the 1,500m and was a three-time NCAA All-American.
For her athleticism and amazing accomplishment, Brenda is this week's Inspiring Latina!

Go to Latina.com to read the interview I did with Martinez.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Peter Horrobin at the U.S. Open


Courtesy of the Jamaica Gleaner 

You gotta love a man who is all emotions.  Peter Horrobin became the first Jamaican to play in the U.S. (Senior) Open. He cried on the course and in the press conference but it was clear he was fulfilling a life's dream. He shot 70 on Thursday but missed the cut yesterday with 80.  Hopefully, he’ll qualify for more PGA events and get the sponsors he needs.  The island is already proud of his accomplishments.