Dave Black believes in the power that basketball has to change lives. As a former National Jamaica basketball player who grew up in rural St James, his life is a testament to that. Now the 34-year-old is harnessing that power to change the lives of student-athletes at P.H.A.S.E.1 Academy at the Herbert Morrison Technical High school as its first Technical Director.
And as he settles into his new position, Black, who has more than 15 years of experience as a basketball coach said he’s excited to take advantage of the additional resources that P.H.A.S.E.1 Academy provides.
“My role as Technical Director is to learn how the other academies in Canada, Phoenix, and Africa operate and utilize available tools such as Elite1 recruiting, Flipgrid, and Google classroom to get the athletes in Jamaica to perform at their optimal level. As Technical Director, I also plan and execute the training sessions ensuring that the protocols set by the government are followed. I also ensure that the main ingredient of fun is also included,” he said.
Although the academy has only been established for a few months, he said he’s already seeing where players, who come from all over Jamaica, are benefitting.
"It has given them hope especially since the academy saw the revival of the sport,” he said. “For first-time players, they are really excited because they get a chance to learn the skills and play the game of the sport they only get to see on television that they love,” he said.
Adding; “For more seasoned players their confidence level is up and their interest has been heightened as they are exposed to new drills to develop the skills. They are showing potential in areas they never thought were possible.”
"It has given them hope especially since the academy saw the revival of the sport," Dave Black
The coronavirus pandemic has posed some challenges as it relates to how Black coaches his student-athletes.
"The biggest challenge is that because basketball is a contact sport there is difficulty finding activities that can get athletes to be as aggressive as they can be. Another challenge is that there are some talented players who are not allowed to enroll because of the fears of parents associated with contracting the virus," he said.
But he and his four-member coaching staff have found ways to maneuver that. "Online sessions have been implemented so that those who do not want to come to physical sessions can benefit. Additionally, training pads have been created to assist with contact that can improve the aggression in players," he said.
For Black, the job is quite fulfilling and he stays motivated by his student-athletes' passion and dedication towards improving their skills.
"They are showing potential in areas they never thought were possible.”- Dave Black
“The feedback has been good because coming to the sessions is pretty much the only time they get to be physical with all the restrictions currently in place.”
All that’s needed now is more infrastructure development, and then Black is sure that the academy will be producing future basketball stars.
“Provisions have been made for all the equipment needed for skill development, however, strength training equipment and an area for such training is needed to compete at the highest level. Even though this is not a quick fix, the court surface and covering is another major issue as when it rains there is little that can be done.”