Sprott (right) has the full attention of members of his basketball
team just before a training session for the 2005 schools basketball
By Jovan Ravello
It is said that you never get a second chance to make a first
impression. But for coach Albert Sprott and the basketball
team at the International School of Port-of-Spain (ISPS),
first impression never mattered.
Instead they were focused on a more long-term goal as the
rest of the teams in the Schools Basketball League have now
come to realise.
When Sprott, a coach since 1984, took charge of the schools
basketballers, he already had a penchant for winning.
Last year, ISPS season ended on a disappointing note
as they were stopped by St Anthonys College in the semi
finals of the NGC/Express Schools Basketball Leagues
The mood at the schools post-season banquet was sombre
and the boys failure to advance to their first zonal
final was the evenings hot topic.
This, Sprott believes, was a major turning point for his team.
Sprott used St Anthonys success as a yardstick to measure
the success of his eight-year programme at the school, and
ISPS, now tired of years of knocking on the door, began their
preparation for 2005 with great enthusiasm.
When the season began on January 15, no one expected ISPS
to be a factor in the title race in any of the five divisions.
ISPS proved them all wrong.
They won the North Zone Under-17 Big 4 on an unbeaten streak,
only dropping points after they were forced to default a match
It is a situation which should be frightening since the players
have been together for a longer period of time than other
teams in the zone and Sprott noted that they should be together
for two to three more years.
Although they have been competing in the Under-20 and Under-17
divisions, all members of the team, exclusive of Hobie Temple
and Marc Mc Eachnie are under 15.
This means that National Under-17 MVP Nathan Wethington, a
well received addition to the team, and captain Luther Wilson
will be available to help the team defend its national titles
Sprott said It is nice to know you have a bunch that
is enthusiastic about learning the game.
The squads defenders stood out in their victorious season.
Sprott explained that scoring has never been a problem but
that his players failed to stop their opponents at the courts
Sprott began his coaching career with the Servol Life Centre,
(in his words) a good team that never peaked.
He soon found his groove with the Demerera Life All Stars
in the North/Western Zone, going on an eight-year winning
streak in that zone and a hat-trick of wins in the North Zone.
Sprott has also been in charge of his community team, Cosmic
Sign Raptors, formerly TransAd Betham Stray Bullets, since
Raptors are currently defending their North Zone Second Division
He coaches in an effort to show the other side of the Beetham
area, to keep the youth away from the negatives and, most
importantly because it is his passion.
Through success with the Raptors, he hopes to
win back the community and give his players a chance at a
ISPS will travel to the Hoop Group High School Basketball
Championships, which are to be hosted by Seaton Hall University,
in New Jersey during the July-August school break.
So far, the community-based programme coached by Sprott, NFM
assistant coach Jamal Duke, Morgan John and Rudolph King (among
others) has done well to hone raw talent through an intense
focus on the fundamentals.
In 2001 the programmes first year former
St Marys College star Kibwe Trim was awarded an athletic
scholarship to Sacred Heart University and Jason Sharpe and
Sherman Diaz of Fatima College and Tranquillity Government
Secondary respectively were offered packages the following
Two years ago, Makandal Daaga received a partial scholarship
to Underwood University, Missouri and last year, Persto Praesto
Youth Camps Donny Lyons was awarded a scholarship to
the Brooklyn Academy.
In 2003, Garvin Lewis was offered a scholarship by Bloomfield
College but without achieving a SAT score, he was unable to
succeed. This has effected a change and now the programme
is all-inclusive tests with the SAT exam as one of its major
Sprott expressed great appreciation to ISPS principal Barney
Lathan for his support.
He also thanked his "behind-the-scenes team" Ricardo
and Donna Lue Shue, Gwendolyn Pope, who is in charge of the
SAT aspect of the programme, Debbie Jacob and Stephanie Marfan.
Sprott, with characteristic frankness, revealed that his greatest
wishes are to participate in a higher quality Schools
Basketball League and that his fellow coaches band together,
much like those in the ISPS programme, in order to effect
growth in the sport.
In honour of the Under-17 teams historic performance,
ISPS was given a school holiday on May 20, as a symbol of
the importance of their achievement.
And while most may have been enjoying their day off, more
than likely the ISPS boys were on the gym floor working hard
on their seemingly flawless game because, as Sprott says "they
just dont want to stop."