“It was the door to a better life,” – 33 year-old Dave Black 33yrs old, former Jamaican National Team Player
Black who is the Head Coach and a Physical Education, (P.E) Teacher at the Herbert Morrison Technical High School in St. James, Jamaica expressed with passion that the sport changed his life for the better.
Deciding at an early stage that he wanted to be different from the crowd and rise up from his small, rural community of Vaughnsfield Housing Scheme, in St. James, to be something great, Black said he began playing Basketball at the start of high school, after being intrigued by the sport which he saw on television.
He became good at the game over time and while attending the Heart Trust NTA- a vocational institution- he was offered a scholarship to pursue his tertiary studies at the GC Foster College- a Physical Education & Sport, full-time residential institution, located in Spanish Town, St. Catherine.
This scholarship he declined at first, but then later accepted.
He reflected on the important decision he made, praising the sport for helping him to pave a new path.
“It is the thing that keeps me steady from following the crowd, sending me to college. Before basketball, there was no plan to go to college…I don’t know where I would be today without basketball.” – Dave Black
There was an even bigger victory for Black, he explained that the sport prevented him from engaging in illegal activities.
“There was no one from my community or my age talking about going to college, everybody was more of talking about becoming taxi drivers and hotel workers, you know, small thinking. And it was just around the time that [lotto] scamming was becoming popular, so basketball kept me from the negative things.” He said.
Lotto scamming has since put a dent in Jamaica’s reputation, with several international citizens, being defrauded out of their money. Several Jamaican nationals have since been extradited to the United States in relation to scamming and are serving prison sentences there. This is the life that basketball saved Black from, helping him to dribble pass the negativity, to score many goals in the game of life.
But this was only the beginning of a great successful journey for Black. He says basketball afforded him the opportunity to travel and represent Jamaica internationally, securing many awards.
“I represented the country as a national basketball player in Mexico. I played a practice game with the national females’ team in Montego Bay and the president saw me and decided that I was talented and had to play on the national males’ team.” He explained.
Black noted that since then, the success has only gotten better.
“Two years ago I was the Assistant Coach for the national under 16 team, then last year, I was the coach for the national under 17 male team.”
Under his guidance, the Herbert Morrison Technical High has also reaped success.
“Herbert [Morrison Technical High ] has been winning Western Champs for the past 5 years…and persons I have taught and coached have moved on overseas to pursue tertiary education on scholarships, and it feels good.”
Mr. Black says he has been travelling to China for training with students as well and has also started a basketball academy to develop basketball in the region.
Not only does basketball bring happiness but it changes lives, Dave Black now hopes he will be able to continue to impact the lives of his students positively, and help them to travel down a similar or even greater path than he did.
“I went to college at about age 24 and I want my students to make a decision earlier so that they can have a more successful career.” – Dave Black
The 33 year-old coach also notes that P.H.A.S.E. 1 Youth Association a non profit based out of Toronto, Canada, has been playing a great role in helping to make that vision a reality.
Black says he met the founder of P.H.A.S.E. 1, Wayne Dawkins at the Jamaica Basketball Classic in Montego Bay, some years ago. Dawkins had observed a match played by another team and the Black coached Herbert Morrison team and had expressed an interest in meeting the talented and exemplary coach.
That was where a new partnership was forged and a new journey began.
Dawkins has since visited Herbert Morrison Technical High School and has pledged to help to develop and improve basketball at the school as well as Jamaica on a whole.
The organization is slated to make well needed donations to the school, something from which Black believes the entire Western Jamaica will benefit.
He says Herbert Morrison Technical High School is seeking to be the first school, with an indoor court facility as the current area for training is in bad condition.
“Western Jamaica would benefit overall, because when it rains there is no basketball, with an indoor facility, we can train and hold matches anytime we want.” He said.
Black has lauded P.H.A.S.E 1 for its contributions and determination to change the lives of youths through basketball, assisting them on their Journey of an Elite 1.
“P.H.A.S.E. 1 is doing a great job!” – Dave Black