LCA Making News
Coach Evans helping student athletes further their education (Freeport News)
September 09, 2011
By Andrew Coakley

FN Acting News Editor

With schools here in The Bahamas and in the United States preparing to reconvene, more and more Grand Bahamian students are being given the opportunity to advance their education to the next level. Some are even being given the opportunity to continue their high school education within the United States.

Coach Ray Evans is among the many local coaches who has used his contacts with coaches abroad to give local students a chance to study abroad.

On Thursday, Evans announced that Blazers Basketball (of which he is the head coach) have obtained some 10 scholarships for local student athletes to colleges abroad. These scholarships, some full scholarships and some partial, are for both high school and colleges. Two of the college kids, according to coach Evans, have already gone off to colleges. They are Picasso Knowles and Ramon "Shaky" Dames and they will be attending Carl Albert State, in Oaklahoma. Other students from coach?Evans' club headed off to college include Trent Cox (Ranger College in Texas), Charles Kemp and Vida Hepburn. High school students getting a chance to study abroad are Donald "Pro" Gibson, Lynroy Russell, Nathaniel Newbold Jr., Bejan Duncombe, Justin Smith, Kenaldo Johnson (out of Abaco) and the only female in the group, Paige Munroe, from Bishop Michael Eldon High School. The high school students will all be attending a Prep school in Canada, Life Christian Academy, where incidently, coach Evans has just landed a job as Athletic Director.

Getting the job in Canada is something coach Evans said started about seven or eight years ago when he was given

the opportunity to coach a school in Canada (Bishop Thomas Morrocco) and was able to take the basketball team to their first play-offs in 20 years. In their second year, they made it all the way to the Regionals. During the summers his team would travel to various tournaments within Canada to play. That's when he got a chance to network with many of the coaches there.

"When I returned home to The Bahamas, I would carry some Bahamians to tournaments in the Ontario area and we connected with many of those people," said coach Evans.

"I was trying to get two of my Bahamian boys to the school (Life Christian Academy) and that's when they told me that they were looking for a new Athletic Director and asked if I would be interested in the job. I told them that I would have to pray about it. I prayed about it and talked to some of my parents about the opportunity. It took about four months to get everything to where we would like to see it, but God has been good."

Coach Evans said that it was a lot of hard work trying to arrange everything and organise the scholarships.

"We had to decide whether or not to attend a tournament in Bimini or go away to play in a tournament there," remembers coach Evans. "I got together with the parents and we raised some funds and we brought down about seven coaches from high school and college to Bimini where we were playing in a tournament. They were able to see the talent that we have and the vice-president of the school in Canada came down and we got a chance to talk, and we moved on from there.

"They saw some of the kids they were interested in and when they offered me the job I told them that I would take a pay cut if they could give more opportunity to more of my kids. So, that's how we were able to get some more kids into the school. God is good and God opened the doors."

This year alone, coach?Evans said that they have arranged for some 14 Grand Bahamians to get a chance to study abroad. He said that there could have been more, but noted that because of some circumstances with finances some of the kids were unable to go.

"But also some parents didn't see the vision in letting their kids finish high school away, where they would have a chance to get into the system and increase their shot at a Division One College," said coach?Evans. "But we have to respect their decision and we're thankful for the ones who are getting the chance to go."

Coach Evans said that he's proud of the young men who are getting this opportunity and noted that each one brings something different and unique to the tabel and would make a big difference to the school once they get settled in.