THE FINAL JUMPER
Jump Ball No. 135 (Part I). By Arlington James
The Jump Ball feature column of The Sun newspaper came about by accident, so to speak, in 2016, with an article on the famous Pros (Senior) basketball team from Grand Bay. The 'Kings of Sout' City Basketball' had bounced on the scene in 1973, survived over thirty years, grabbed a couple of league championships, and took their final 'jumpers' in 2014.
The column had its share of readership, and one article in particular, which featured Pioneers (July 2017) - Dominica's first-ever women's basketball team – received no less than 341 likes on The Sun's website! Another article, "Simon 'Toto' Joseph: Still Contributing In Basketball" (October 2016), placed a distant second with 220 likes. It should be noted, though, that while the number of likes of some editions was 0 or 1, that should not be interpreted as the level of readership of the particular article.
Sometime after Jump Ball first appeared, the columnist was asked, "So you're writing about everybody and all sorts of teams. But who is going to write the story of your involvement in basketball?"
I had no intention of blowing any trumpet, but on second thought, I changed my mind, first while producing Segment E of Jump Ball article No. 27, "Pens, Mics, Cameras, Baskets: Basketballers In The Media" in March 2018. So, I will now share my involvement in basketball with The Sun's readers in more detail in this article. I don't consider that to be blowing any trumpet, but rather blowing my whistle.
THE EARLY DAYS: The columnist first saw basketball being played on the St. Mary's Academy (SMA) court while attending Confirmation Classes on Sundays and afternoons at that school.
Initially, I thought that the game appeared somewhat rough! However, that same year (1965), I enrolled at the Dominica Grammar School, and the following year the "National" Basketball league bounced off on the SMA court. The league organizers provided several free tickets to the secondary schools to promote the games to encourage students to see this novel game. Of course, I was one of the young boys who seized the opportunity to be out at night.
In 1967, the Dominica Grammar School first fielded a team in the Island League. By 1970 some of the students in Fifth Form – including Roosevelt Yorke, Raymond Lawrence, Adolphus 'Saka' David, Joseph 'Friar Tuck' Russell, and yours truly – were on the DGS team. I must say that I did not receive much playing time, but notably, I wore the uniform, which was a brown dyed vest and white shorts.
AFTER SECONDARY SCHOOL: I completed Sixth Form in 1972, and in 1973 while serving as a teacher at the DGS, I joined 'Saka' David, Glen John, Alphonso Etienne, 'Charlie' James – now editor of The Sun newspaper – and others to form Raiders. I recall one Sunday afternoon when seven of us crammed onboard Charlie's Mini-Moke and journeyed down to Grand Bay to engage the then newly-formed Pros in a friendly.
In 1974 I also coached the DGS Junior team, with players such as Marcellus Lee, Irving Williams, Bobby Shaw and others.
Later that year, I left the island to pursue a Diploma in Forestry at the Eastern Caribbean Institute of Agriculture & Forestry (ECIAF) in Trinidad. While there, countrymen Claude Bellot, Michael Zamore, and yours truly became founding members of the first-ever ECIAF basketball team in 1976.
Upon my return to Dominica in 1976, I joined Ambassadors in the national league the following year. And I remained with that team until 1980, before I left Dominica to pursue studies at the University of Michigan (UofM) in Ann Arbor. While at UofM, I played with University Towers in the university's Intra-Mural League.
After returning from Michigan late in 1982, I did not get very much involved in basketball per se, then suffered a severe back injury in January 1984. However, come 1985, I became a founding member of M.E. Charles Green City. I played in DABA's Senior Division league with Curtis John, Bernard Joseph, Bradley Oscar and others. The team survived only one season, ending my fourth and final stint as a player in Dominica's National Basketball League. I continued off-and-on in competitive basketball when I helped organize the first-ever Pottersville Basketball League in 1987 and played with Jordan Wall. The Hoyas basketball teams of the late 1980s and 1990s began in that league.
Continues next edition