The Lodge School continues to pay homage to their outstanding track and field athletes and last Friday, Sheena Gooding, one of Barbados’ outstanding middle distance runners was recognised during the school’s Track and Field Championships held on the school’s grounds at Massiah Street, St John.
Gooding, who still holds Barbados’ junior record of 2:06 in the 800m and is the former national record holder in that event, became the first female to be recognised during the school’s inter-house championships, which was titled the Sheena Gooding Interhouse Track and Field Championships.
A firm believer that “sports is life”, Gooding, who was accompanied by her parents Heather Bancroft and Greg Gooding during the special occasion, expressed her joy at being honoured.
“It brings back a lot of great memories. This is where I was made and it is really good to be back, so I just want to encourage the athletes, the parents, teachers, that sports is life. It brought me everything that I have and I am forever grateful.
“I just wish this generation of athletes would understand the opportunities that are out there, whether it is track, basketball, netball. I tell everyone I have no outstanding student loans, track and field got me everything that I have today. Free scholarship with my undergrad and my masters and that is all that you can ask for,” Gooding said.
The 38-year-old was treated to a win when her namesake Gooding House repeated as champions for the second consecutive year.
Reminiscing about the days spent at her alma mater, Gooding credited former and present physical education teachers, McDonald Fingall, Clifton Phillips and Anne Hinds- Butchers for the role they played in her development.
She also stressed the importance of a strong support system whether its family, school or otherwise.
“I definitely enjoyed my time at the Lodge Schools thanks to Mr Fingall [MacDonald], Hinds Butcher and Clifton Phillips. Mr Fingall was really tough but it was necessary. I remember many days during my long-distance training, I would run from here to Six Roads, up to Ruby Park, across to Thicketts, pass Three Houses and come back.
“That was our long run and Mr Fingall would always be behind us to give us water, making sure that we were doing ok. Some days I would joke and say it would be shorter for me to run home with the workout that he gave us, but like I said earlier today, he never took his eyes off me and for that I am grateful. Others would be in the caneground getting cane and he is looking for Sheena to live up to expectations, finish her work out and for that I am grateful,” Gooding said.
She added: “It doesn’t only take being able to run fast, you need a comfortable home setting. Not saying everybody has to be rich but at least if you could get two good meals a day. Granted people say corn curls aren’t good but then they say we came up on corn curls. I say everything in moderation, but you have to take care of your body, mind and mental health now is a big aspect of the sport. Back in my day people didn’t really focus on mental health but with all that is going on now, the brain has to be one hundred per cent for your body to respond.”
Gooding made her CARIFTA debut for Barbados in 1995 and went on to represent the country at the World Indoor Championships, Commonwealth Games, Pan American Games and the Central America and Caribbean Championships.
She also excelled academically and was the recipient of a track and field scholarship to Austin Peay State University in Clarksville Tennessee where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing. Gooding then went on to complete her masters in Sports Management at Illinois State University.
The Lodge School has always performed creditably at the Barbados Secondary Schools Athletics Championship (BSSAC) and has produced some of Barbados’ outstanding track and field athletes such as Olympians Seibert Straughn and Stephen Jones, Noel Lynch, Henry Inniss, Sade Sealy and Mara Weekes.
Gooding was part of the Lodge squad that dominated BSSAC, especially in the 4x400m relays, and her desire is to see the school return to those glory days.
“The students, in general, need to have that fight within themselves. Of course, the support is needed especially from the top; the principal, deputy principal, physical education department and parents. I could never forget the support from my parents. They would have been at every track meet that I competed at in Barbados and even some overseas. CARIFTA Games my mom and dad would travel to watch me compete and trust me when I say their support was tremendous.
“And I tell parents you may not understand what is going on, just show up. Let the child know that you are there for them and push them, especially when you know they are doing something positive,” Gooding said.