Friday, January 19, 2018

Stephanie Power One of this country's sporting greats


Stephanie Power. Photos Stephen Doobay

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Stephanie Power, former West Indies women's cricket captain and wicketkeeper and former West Indies women's assistant coach, is one of this country's sporting greats.

Power, who resides in Pashley Street, Laventille, comes from a large cricketing family of nine. She recalled during my interview with her recently that her parents and siblings use to play cricket. Power is also a secondary school teacher of Physical Education at San Juan North Secondary School. During my interview with her, I discovered a woman with a zest for life — a zest that has enabled her and continues to enable her to surmount seemingly impassable odds.

"I'm a happy person. I think everyone should know this, I am a cancer survivor. I had colon cancer. I enjoy life. I just love to be happy, to dance," Power said as we started the interview. "It was not by chance that I was diagnosed in Canada and had emergency surgery done. I had gone there as manager of TTU17 ladies on a tour." She concluded. Power's optimistic outlook on life is responsible for her getting through this situation in her life.

Power has now picked herself up and is back in the game. She revealed that she started off playing cricket just for the fun of it, but it was not until secondary school that she began taking the game seriously.

"I was indoctrinated into formal cricket playing while at St Francois Girls' College… John showed me how to bowl. 'I introduced you to cricket, I hope you mention my name' he told me." John is one of her siblings and a great encourager it seems; so much so, that Power eventually attained the title of West Indies women's cricket captain and wicketkeeper and then former West Indies women's assistant coach.

Between 1993 and 2005, Power played one Test and 34 ODIs for the West Indies women. During that time period, she also participated in three Women's Cricket World Cup events. Her stellar cricketing skills eventually gained her recognition by the Atlantis club of New York on November 3, 2012. "I really want to thank John Aaron. Aaron is the man who encouraged Atlantis to honour me. I do not know how else to thank him." Power has done a lot of work in women cricket in New York and attributes this to Lyndon Fraser, the former coach of the US women's cricket team. Fraser is actually a former trainee of Power and calls her frequently, whenever she is in New York, to help out with training. In 2005, she took the women's cricket team to the women's World Cup in South Africa.

Of course, involvement in so many different sporting events and her training as a coach has taken her across the globe, as suggested above. "I coach all over, New York and New Jersey, for instance. Whoever asks me to coach them, I coach them. I'm a trained tutor trainer who was trained in England. So I can train others to be coaches. I went to Bermuda; Fort Lauderdale, Bermuda; California and Barbados. Power is the only certified female trainer in the western hemisphere. She is a certified level II cricket coach.

This ever busy woman is mother to sons Stefan and Don. With a proud smile she said: "Stefan plays cricket in the States. He went to San Juan South Secondary where he was captain of the cricket team. He started playing again last year, after taking a break. Don is here." Cricket is a family affair for the Power family.

This woman whose plate is extra full of numerous committments said, "I am on the board of directors at Copos Credit Union and I'm a Pan Trinbago judge. I've been judging pan for the past 14 years, in Grenada, St Lucia, Antigua and St Vincent." In spite of this, however, somehow she is balanced and not overwhelmed by her busy schedule. In fact, when I asked her if, at any point, she had thought of retiring from all of this, she said, "When you stop living, you die. I enjoy doing these things."

As I left, I reflected on what she said and I think I know what she meant.

This is how I interpreted it. When you have a passion for something, it does not feel like work. It brings a sense of fulfillment. And it is like death, when you can no longer do that which you so love.

Power is an inspiration to everyone she encounters. When you talk to her she is certain to put a smile on your face.