Gamecocks fight for region’s talent

College athletics is very
competitive, especially in the United
States, as schools look to gain an edge in
every way.

Thus it is no surprise those
schools are ultra-aggressive in recruiting. That zeal resulted in many US
universities having scouts present at the CARIFTA Games in Cayman over the
weekend.

Among them was Stan Rosenthal, who
represents the University
of South Carolina Gamecocks.

Rosenthal, 58, said he had a great
time here. “It has been great. The plane ticket wasn’t expensive but the hotel
sure was.

“I didn’t see much of Cayman aside
from going to East End and having lunch at the Blow Holes and getting lunch at Liberty’s in West
Bay.

“The people here have done a great
job putting on such a world-class local and regional event. The atmosphere was
great, the athletes were great, the announcers were very entertaining and it
was a great turnout in the stands.”

A nine-year member of the Gamecocks
athletics department, Rosenthal was present for all three days of the Games at
the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.

In that time he saw many athletes
post remarkable showings. In fact he was impressed with a couple of Cayman
kids.

“Kirani James of Grenada was phenomenal,” Rosenthal
said. “It’s a pity he’s already at the University of Alabama.
We certainly want more Caribbean athletes on
our track team, just like everyone else in the country.

“It’s hard to say anyone else stood
out simply because NCAA and school rules state we (as scouts) can’t talk to the
athletes at this age; only the coaches.

“As far as the Cayman coaches go I
haven’t had a chance to talk to any of them because I haven’t seen them.
However I do intend to talk to them about some of the athletes.

“In every sprint the Cayman
athletes looked good. Obviously there are lots of good athletes here. To be honest
Cayman wasn’t on our radar up until now though it’s clear from being here that
all of the Caribbean is capable of producing
sprint and hurdle medallists.”

Rosenthal is well aware of the Caribbean’s potency in track and field. Before Usain Bolt
and Veronica Campbell-Brown hit the scene he had experience with world-class
Jamaican sprinter Aleen Bailey.

Bailey, 30, not only boasts two
Olympic gold medals in the 4x100m relay. She also can claim to be an alumnus of
South Carolina
and still trains there with Gamecocks head athletics coach Curtis Frye.

As Rosenthal says many US
schools are in the business of producing similar success stories.

“In addition to Aleen we’ve had
people from Trinidad and Tobago
and other athletes from around the Caribbean.

“Athletes from the Caribbean have been good in US schools across a number of
events. That is why at these games I’ve already seen six division one US schools (Florida State,
Tennessee, Western Kentucky, Arkansas,
Middle Tennessee
State and Alabama) represented here.

“I think a lot of the scouts here
are thinking the same thing. If an athlete is good in say long jump then
there’s a good chance he or she will excel in high jump. The idea is to see who
fits your needs.”

Ultimately whether or not Rosenthal
tries to recruit Cayman gold medallist Chantelle Morrison or any other local
athlete one thing is clear: he’s bound to be at the next Games searching for
talent.

“I’ve been in coaching since 1976.
Clean living has kept me going to this point. I’ve been to five other
universities, all division one schools.

“Basically for me it’s about
getting paid to do my hobby. I don’t get too many bad days out here. I might
get tired and be out here for days but that’s okay. It’s all about spotting the
next great talent.”

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